Thinking Queerly by Kristina Furia

At present, LGBT teenagers and adults experience mental illness at higher rates than the general population. This imbalance is due to the additional adversity that members of our community are likely to face at various points throughout both childhood and adulthood. Thinking Queerly is a mental-health column written by Kristina Furia (www.lgbtphillytherapy.com), a local psychotherapist, that focuses on the unique psychological and social experiences of LGBT individuals, couples and families. Each month's column highlights a specific aspect of being LGBTQ in the United States and the various effects it has on our mental health and overall experience in society.


Americans are stressed out about politics. We are stressed about the future and we are stressed about surviving Donald Trump. Within the last year, I have so often found myself having if-these-walls-could-talk moments as client after client comes into my psychotherapy office wanting to discuss politics instead of their own lives. Of course, the content and types of talk vary from person to person: Trump, North Korea, Russia, racism, LGBT rights, health care, taxes, the environment, white supremacy — to name a few. 

In the last several weeks, we’ve watched in horror as Puerto Rico experiences crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. We’ve seen building upon building in shambles alongside countless uprooted trees and roads and bridges that can’t be crossed. Satellite images of the tropical territory show that nearly 85 percent of the island is still without power. People are struggling to find enough food and water to sustain their families, and luxuries — yes, luxuries — like ice and solar-powered lights are very difficult to come by at this point. 

 

While it is becoming increasingly common for LGBTQ couples (and singles) to have actual human children as opposed to just furry ones, it is no less true that, both historically and presently, we queers love our animals as if they are our children. They are our children.            The singular problem with this is that no parent should have to mourn the loss of a child. As pet moms and dads, though, we have no choice. If we’re lucky, we get 10 or 15 years with our babies and then we are forced to say goodbye. Even though we know to expect it, this knowledge does nothing to ease the pain when the time comes.

Maintaining healthy communication skills in a long-term relationship is of paramount importance to the continued success of your relationship. While a few couples out there may naturally communicate effectively and in ways conducive to both parties feeling understood and fulfilled, most of us have to put in the work to avoid getting stuck in negative patterns. 

 

Apps like Grindr and Scruff have become the gold standard for men to meet men. These apps, and others like it, use geo-locational technology to connect users to other men currently logged onto the app within a certain physical range, creating easy opportunities to both meet and hook up with new guys. While some men aren’t necessarily meeting up (just) to have sex, it is generally understood that Grindr, Scruff and the like are used for casual sex.

Upon Hillary Clinton losing the election, a distinct grim tone to people’s sharing immediately cropped up in my therapy practice. Expressions of overt sadness, anger, disbelief and fear were par for the course during the first couple of weeks after the results. Although, interestingly, these feelings were not just about Donald Trump and the onslaught of poor choices to come politically. Many people expressed a variety of increased negative emotions related to their personal lives as well as their overall outlook on being a human being in ways that would not have been typical just a few weeks prior. 

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