homophobia · Mental Health Stigma Suicide

Queer-phobia in Mental Health Care

My practice website is pretty gay. Rainbows and Queer stuff all over the place. My job posting that I have up for therapists links to my website- it also explicitly says “LGBTQ experience preferred but not required,” and goes on to explain that the majority of our patients fall under the Queer umbrella. We certainly have hetero-cis patients- many of them. But around 60% or more of our clients are Queer (And I’m Queer. The owner).

Therefore it continuously surprises me in job interviews that the people applying have no experience with LGBTQ affirming care and also do not seem that interested in expanding their skills to include being an LGBTQ affirming and competent provider.

I’ve heard some crazy stuff in job interviews. Around four months ago a therapist who supervises the therapists in my practice commented on how slow we are to on board people- one every 4-6 months. I sort of rolled my eyes and said we don’t have a large qualified pool of applicants. She remained skeptical. She also intimated that maybe I scare people. I have been told I am intimidating. I thought maybe she wasn’t wrong. But I really do try to smile and be kind in job interviews.

So I had her start to join me.

After 6? interviews she said, “Okay. You were right.” People will literally say transphobic or homophobic statements in the interview with a Queer practice owner.

The entire experience of hiring has opened my eyes to the rampant homophobic and transphobic attitudes that are ever-present among mental health clinicians.

I always preface my Queer competence question with- “it’s okay if you have no experience with the LGBTQ community. It’s important that you are open to learning about it though.” Because I can hire some one with no experience and teach them to be Queer competent if they are teachable. Teachable/coachable are incredibly important qualities in employees. One therapist I hired had no experience with BDSM and minimal experience with trans clients.

Now she knows the lingo and declines to take new patients who are not Queer and/or in the BDSM community. Because she asked the questions and was open to feedback and learning and took CEU courses and did supervision with me around Queer stuff.

I’ve heard bad stories from my LGBTQ clients about therapists saying homophobic and transphobic stuff. I’ve definitely heard stories of kink-shaming and BDSM-shaming. In fact I asked a therapy group who I referred to and they referred to me frequently about seeing clients in the BDSM community and they got all squirrelly and were clearly not okay even mentioning BDSM.

I could say to therapists who are interviewing that we will accommodate their experience and desires and not give them any Queer clients. I thought about it. But then I thought. Fuck that.

I’m not going to own a practice that I founded because of the 2016 election and because of Pulse and because Queer people don’t have safe spaces…and not have every clinician working there be 100% comfortable with treating Queer clients.

I will say the hiring process teaches me as an employer. It teaches me that I do not want to rush the hiring process and hire the wrong person. It teaches me that homophobia and transphobia are rampant even among therapists who claim to be “LGBT friendly”. What does that even mean these days? What I’ve found is it means I’m okay if your a lesbian and we do not ever need to mention internalized homophobia or your sex life. It means that being trans is fine as long as we do not need to address micro aggressions that you face even within this office space.

It teaches me that I’m even more dedicated in my mission to create a safe space for minority employees and clients. It teaches me that being selective is okay. That I should wait for the right fit. That I should trust my gut because even people in the “helping profession” can have their discriminatory views that they are bringing to the table.

I am still going to ask about Queer experience. I am still going to require if not experience an openness to learn and to accept. I always thought I would have to protect my practice from hate among hateful people. But I picture those people more as potential clients or client’s family members or random people who come across our website. I did not think, in my naïveté and sheltered bubble of acceptance, that I would need to protect it from those within my own profession.

But I do. And I will.

If anything it’s also made me even more grateful for the employees I have. Because every single one of them is LGBTQ affirming. Not just friendly. But affirming. Accepting. Loving. There is no bone of hate or discrimination in the practice as it is now. I will continue to strive and work to keep it that way.

homophobia · Uncategorized

Homophobia & Corinthians. It’s getting old people…My response to a Comment.

Normally I delete these comments. But I thought I’d share this one so people can understand the bullshit that Queer people deal with on the daily. Some one tried to post this comment on one of my blog posts that actually had nothing to do with being Queer. It was commented on my blog post titled “The Scent of Grief” which I then read, as I hadn’t read it in awhile, and ended up crying because it’s about the loss of my Dad.

Guess what the loss of my Dad has to do with being Queer? Nothing. My dad loved me for me, he loved my ex-wife, and he danced as long and as hard as the rest of us at our wedding. But these lovely humans who will never even post under their true blog name for me to go onto their page to respond to…Germiner….felt the need to post a bible verse. Here’s my response Germiner and every other homophobic person who hides behind bible verses because that makes it what? less homophobic? In my opinion it’s worse. Here’s why-

  1. I love how straight Christians think Queers have never read the bible. You asshat I wrote a paper at my religious undergraduate college entitled “Homosexuality and the Bible” and that was one of many religiously themed papers that I wrote in college because I took a religious based course every semester in my undergraduate. I also was raised Missouri Synod Lutheran. Church weekly and during some parts of the year twice weekly. I was baptized, confirmed, and attended confirmation class weekly for two years in addition to once or twice weekly church. I am fully aware of 1 Corinthians. It was written by the Apostle Paul- you know what else he preaches against in that very verse? Lawsuits. You know what happened to a Rugby Player Israel Folau, who quoted Corinthians on social media? He lost his contract for being homophobic….then he sued the rugby organization that fired him. So pardon my skepticism for anything relating to the bible. Christians notoriously and continuously pick out what works for them and when it works for them. How can he in one breath be homophobic “spreading the word of God” and in the next sue the organization that fired him for being homophobic when literally in the SAME verse the SAME voice says Don’t sue people.
  2. It’s not a “preacher” speaking in 1 Corinthians. It’s freaking Paul the Apostle. He’s writing to a community of Christians that he founded/converted in Corinth. Get your damn facts right and don’t assume that I do not know the facts. Because guess what- I confirmed my information after I wrote my first draft of this blog post. But I didn’t have to look it up to write this to start with. Because yes….I have studied religion and Christianity and the bible that much.
  3. There is an assumption that you think I think God doesn’t love me. I do not believe in the orthodox Christian version of God. The version I believe in has fate, a higher power, and love.
  4. Do you think you’re the first homophobic person to read a Queer person Corinthians? You’re not. You’re not even the fifth. I think I’m in double digits now. The first was a boy in my homeroom in tenth grade. Shoved the bible under my nose and said it says homosexuality is wrong. I smiled and said, “It doesn’t specifically say two women having sex is wrong. It seems to focus more on men.” Later my ex-mother-in-law also tried to read me the bible. I’ll tell you what- to assume a Queer person has not read the bible and does not have more education on it than you is insulting to my intelligence and ignorant AF.
  5. I’m 37 now and I attended a religious undergraduate college. I also attended church as I mentioned. This is not a novel idea. How about you quote the whole thing though. 1 Corinthians 16 vs 13 “Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done IN LOVE”. Tell me what about being homophobic is done in love? ‘Splain it to me Lucy! Because you see I can find all the quotes about love “written by a preacher” (eyeroll) and throw them right back at you.

So to all the homophobic Christians who come creeping on this page. Bring it. I’ll be happy to do a point by point response.

Sincerely, A Smart, Irritated, Queer woman who is loved by her God and has read the bible.