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.


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.

Love is one of the most important elements of our human existence. It is vastly written about in novels and in poems, is sung about in all sorts of music genres, is the topic of many movies and serves as central inspiration for art of various forms. It compels some of the most intense emotions and is perhaps the most sought-after experience in the course of a lifetime. But, what is it that makes love quite this important?

The most commonly expressed definition of insanity is doing the same thing time and time again and expecting different results. As a society, there are likely several ways in which we are “insane” according to this definition; however, one abundantly clear behavior most of us engage in as individuals relates to the New Year’s resolution. Every year we set goals and every year we abandon them, and then every next year we look fondly ahead to the opportunity to start anew at the chance to finally accomplish the goal.

Last month, I discussed the value of effective listening and offered some tips for listening for the sake of understanding, versus listening for the sake of generating a response. This month, we’ll focus on the inverse of that: how to present your thoughts, feelings and overall experience to your partner in a way that is conducive to being understood.

I, along with most of my couples, have a love/hate relationship with couples counseling. It can be immensely challenging and can result in feelings of frustration, stagnation and hopelessness for all parties involved. Alternately, couples work can also be deeply rewarding, exciting and, in moments, full of laughter.

While many Philadelphians planned long-weekend getaways in an effort to escape the all-but-certain mayhem of Pope Francis’s visit to our city, others chose to stay in town either to bear witness to said mayhem or to get a chance to be in close proximity to His Holiness.

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