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.


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. 

As a country, we are facing a resurgence of overt racism (and sexism among other things, but these are topics for other articles). Racism has never not existed within our nation; however, the latent racism within many Americans came to life with the election of an African-American man to run our country. Eight years later, the racism that has risen to and stayed at the forefront of so many Americans’ psyches has allowed for our current state of affairs. The Republican candidate for president — who, by the way, I will refer to as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in an effort to spare you from seeing that name any more than necessary — is our racist response to Barack Obama. We have allowed a blatant racist, sexist, xenophobic man to get this close to the most powerful office in the world because we are a racist country that couldn’t fully tolerate a black president. In turn, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is getting closer, with each and every speech and tweet, to normalizing racism in America.

Among the most common topics I’ve discussed with clients during typical sessions are relationship issues, career dissatisfaction, familial conflict, a poor relationship to alcohol, drugs or food and issues relating to sex. However, since June 12 when 49 people were senselessly killed at Pulse Nightclub, a distinct shift occurred in the types of topics being discussed during an average client session.

When our editor asked me to write something for this week’s paper on the tragedy in Orlando, I was immediately struck by the anxiety of trying to decide the absolute right things to say. Like so many others, I felt compelled to express my immense feelings of grief and sadness but, because my hope is to offer valuable information, I quickly moved beyond that idea to a whole slew of topics, all of which were seemingly equal in value to the next one. I asked myself, What are the perfect words to say in the aftermath of the untimely deaths of 49, mostly young, LGBT people?

Last year was the first Philly Pride where we were able to celebrate national marriage equality. And it was a really great Pride: triumphant and joyous. This year, as we find ourselves in the midst of Pride week, we are living in a country where conservatives have been and continue to launch bill after bill aimed at tearing away the progress made toward LGBT equality.

A friend of my partner and me invited us to a concert a couple of weeks ago. I'm not typically much for concerts. The crowds, lack of seating and overpriced drinks generally cause me to prefer other forums for live entertainment; however, this particular friend is in her 60s and came out as a lesbian-identified trans woman last year after 40-something years of upper-class male heteronormativity.

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