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.


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.

I, along with several other fortunate women, had the honor of spending the better part of an evening with Edie Windsor last weekend while she visited Philadelphia for the 50th anniversary of the Annual Reminders protest. The anniversary celebration couldn’t have come at a better time given that, as we all know, the legalization of same-sex marriage occurred just one week prior. Windsor, whose lawsuit against the federal government led to the fall of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), was honored for her huge contribution to our community.

It’s not difficult to get wrapped up in the excitement of Pride weekend in Philadelphia: the start of summer, the glitter, the rainbows, the feather boas … what’s not to get wrapped up in?! Quite simply, it’s a definite formula for fun; however, the Pride events that take place all around the country surely don’t exist just for the sake of fun. What is the impetus for thousands and thousands of people to attend?

I had the opportunity to see “Kinky Boots” earlier this week at the Forrest Theatre. I knew going in that there was a drag-queen component that had our community especially engaged with the show. What I didn’t expect was the excellent job that “Kinky Boots” does of presenting the challenges of the trans experience.

As we all suddenly find ourselves existing in a reality of a proposed act to execute gays and of same-sex couples being legally denied service at a pizza shop, the assumption that the conservative right wing in this country is distinctly anti-LGBT feels like a safe one. In fact, their disdain for the LGBT “lifestyle” is far from a secret. Instead of quietly containing their hateful feelings with the awareness that it is conventionally wrong to express hatred towards an entire group of people, their hatred has been legitimized with religious justifications. The Bible and God have become your average homophobe’s first line of defense for explaining their phobia. Without further exploration, perhaps such defenses could sound justifiable but upon taking the slightest bit of a closer look, it’s easy to see the only real defense in play is hate.

Most of us identify as a part of the LGBT community. In more recent years, a “Q” has been tacked on to the end of that. For those who are really progressive, our community is summed up by the letters “LGBTQIA”: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer/questioning and intersex, with the “A” commonly thought to represent our straight allies, but also being representative of asexuals, aromantics and those who identify as agender. Is this suddenly sounding complicated?

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