GLBT National Help Center Blog

Helping the LGBT Community

What it looks like…

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This Australian commercial perfectly captures the acceptance that we at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center strive to achieve for everyone in the queer community.

Written by glbtnhc

December 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Romantic Relationship Problems

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While the majority of our calls, chats and emails deal with coming-out and the related feelings that arise from this process, we also receive a large number of contacts from people who want to talk about problems they are having in romantic relationships.  These callers often are not out to their friends and families or have been rejected by their families for being gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgendered, and so they can feel extremely isolated.

These callers want to talk about issues that can arise in any romantic relationship: In-laws, household chores, miscommunications, etc.  But because of the pronouns (he/she/his/her), they are unable to share these otherwise run-of-the-mill discussions with anyone in their lives.  It is a true reflection of how alone individual members of the queer community can feel when they cannot share with others such a fundamental aspect of themselves like sexual orientation or gender identity.  It results in not being able to discuss one’s partner, spouse, date or boyfriend/girlfriend.

Do you need to talk about a problem you’re having with a significant other or romantic interest?  Please get in touch with us.  Our volunteer peer-counselors can help.

Written by glbtnhc

November 21, 2011 at 7:59 am

Legal Resources for GLBT Job Discrimination

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In many places, job discrimination remains a big issue for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.  Many people are afraid to be out for fear that they will be fired and/or subjected to a hostile work environment.  According to our callers, bullying for being different doesn’t necessarily end at high-school graduation.  No one deserves to lose his/her job or have an uncomfortable workplace because of sexual orientation or gender identification.  As incredible as it seems in 2011, the majority of states have NO state-wide law the prohibits discrimination in the work place because of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Nor does the U.S. have a federal law the provides equal protection.  In some places, individual cities have provided protection, but if you travel outside of that city, you might just have lost your ability to work.

That’s why it is so critical for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that will protect all members of our GLBT community.

For legal advice, the following organizations can be helpful:

For more links, please also see the Out & Equal website.

Although they cannot dispense legal advice, our peer-counselor volunteers are happy to listen and discuss the feelings surrounding a discriminatory work environment.  Please let us know if we can help.

Written by glbtnhc

November 14, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Discrimination

Elections and the GLBT Community

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The next Presidential election is now one year away, but already things seem to be in full swing.  Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered issues (including “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Defense of Marriage Act, marriage equality in general, etc.) remain hot-button topics for political campaigns, and that can be emotionally troubling for members of the queer community.

Many GLBT people intellectually recognize the importance of having discussions about inequality and acceptance on a national scale.  But intellectually knowing this doesn’t stop them from experiencing hurt, anger, and sadness when politicians openly discuss their equality rights and whether or not their sexual orientations or gender identifications are choices.

In one study, University of Kentucky psychologist Sharon Scales Rostosky, PhD, surveyed more than 1,500 lesbian, gay and bisexual adults across the nation and found that respondents from the 25 states that have outlawed same-sex marriage had the highest reports of “minority stress”—the chronic social stress that results from minority-group stigmatization—as well as general psychological distress. The negative campaigning that comes with a ban is directly responsible for the increased stress, says Rostosky. Past research has shown that minority stress is linked to health risks such as risky sexual behavior and substance abuse.

See the American Psychological Association site for the full article.

If political events are making you feel anxious, or if you just need to talk about what you’re feeling, please call us, start a chat, or send us an email.

Written by glbtnhc

November 7, 2011 at 5:48 am

Posted in Media

Android’s New “Is my son gay?” App

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Android recently released an app called, “Is my son gay?”   It features twenty questions for a mother to answer about her son, focusing on the son’s reading habits, musical tastes, clothing choices, etc.

This app is absurd.  Its intention might be humor, but even that falls flat.  The only thing that determines whether anyone is gay is whether or not that person is primarily physically and/or romantically attracted to people of the same gender.  Masculinity or femininty have nothing to do with it, nor does one’s interest in Lady Gaga’s music (which is appreciated by ALL sexual orientations).

We do understand that some parents feel that they need answers about their children’s sexual orientation, but these are answers only your children can provide, and they need to do that on their own timelines.  The discovery of one’s sexual orientation is not based on one encounter, but has to be considered over time with the evaluation of feelings for people of the opposite gender versus people of the same gender.

So sadly, when it comes to tacky technology, there’s an app for that!

Written by glbtnhc

October 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Posted in Coming Out, Media, Parent

It’s Never Too Late

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We have heard from men and women of all ages who are discovering their sexual orientation.  And regardless of whether the caller is 17 or 77, he/she will say something like: “I feel silly figuring this out at this age.  I should have realized sooner.”  While the media may make it seem like everyone is coming out at 12, the reality is that people come out at all different times in their life.

While it can seem obvious once a person has discovered his/her sexuality, the road there is not always easy.  Often there is not a supportive environment for someone to even explore feelings that might not be consistent with society’s “norm,” and sometimes the environment can be downright hostile and makes those feelings almost impossible to think about due to a real concern for self-preservation.

No matter what the age of discovery, it is the right time for that person.  And when that time comes, give us a call, send us an email or chat with us online.  We’re here for you.

Written by glbtnhc

October 3, 2011 at 8:49 am

Posted in Coming Out

Chaz Bono

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By now most of America has heard that Chaz Bono, the son of Cher and the late Sonny Bono, is on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”  This has been deemed a controversial move for the show as Chaz has transitioned so that the outside of his body reflects the gender that he knew he was on the inside.  Click here for a definition of transgender or transsexual.

Sadly, and somewhat incredibly, there has been quite a bit of backlash about this casting choice.  Some Americans have expressed disapproval of Chaz, simply because he is transgendered.  Here at the Help Center, transgendered callers tell us that they hear many of the same criticisms in their day-to-day lives that Chaz is experiencing on a national scale.  And although we are barely into the season, Chaz is handling the pressure with strength and dignity.

We at the Help Center applaud Chaz’s willingness to be public, and know that he is helping other trans youth and adults learn that they too can live their lives in a way that is healthy and honest for them.  And oh yeah, we also admire his dance moves.  Chaz is certainly his mother’s son!

If you are transgendered and want to discuss other’s reactions to your gender identity, call us, email us, or chat with us.

Written by glbtnhc

September 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Media, T

“Why Won’t My Child Come Out to Me?”

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We previously discussed things to consider when coming out to one’s parents, but what if you’re the parent and you think your child is gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgendered and want your child to come out to you?  We receive calls from some parents who believe or even know that their children are gay, yet have not heard it first-hand from their kids.  They sometimes experience feelings of hurt that their children might not trust them.

If this describes you, first of all congratulations for being receptive to the possibility of your child being something other than straight.  We applaud that you want your child to feel free to be open about who he/she is.

It might be frustrating that your child hasn’t come out to you (if, indeed, he/she is GLBT), but please be patient.  While your son or daughter’s GLBT status might be clear to you, keep in mind that it might not yet be clear to your son or daughter.  Coming out is a very personal process, and your child may not be ready to face all of the feelings that come with it.

Here are some things you can do or say to ease the process for your child:

  • Discuss current events that affect GLBT people.  Give your positive opinion readily, and ask what your child thinks.
  • Have conversations about any GLBT people you may personally know.  Talk about their experiences with your child.
  • Let your child know that your love is unconditional.  You might even go through various scenarios of what your child could do or be and let him/her know that it wouldn’t change your feelings.
  • If you feel your child is struggling and it’s a financial and/or scheduling possibility, arrange for counseling for your child.  It’s less important that your child talk to you than that they talks to someone who lets your child know that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered is normal and okay.  We can help you find a gay-affirming therapist in your area.

It really all boils down to patience, love and understanding, something that parents tend to have in spades.  And if you want to talk, we’re here.

Written by glbtnhc

September 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Coming Out, Parent

Things to Consider When You Want to Tell Your Parents You’re Queer

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If you are living with your parents and/or are dependent upon their financial support, here are some things to consider if you are thinking about telling your parent(s)/guardian(s) that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgendered.  But before going further, step back, take a deep breath, and congratulate yourself on wanting to do this.  We know it’s not always easy, and we hope you give yourself the credit you deserve for thinking about such an important decision.

  • Is there a potential for danger or abuse to you, physically or emotionally?  Your safety is the most important concern.
  • Are you in danger of being kicked out of your home?  If yes, do you have an alternative place to stay?  Have you asked how long you could stay with them?  Is it a short term offer, or could you stay there for many months or even years?
  • Have your parents made any comments about GLBT people that could give you an indication of how they will react?
  • Go through the various ways you think they will react.  How will you feel about the potential reactions?  If you think they’ll react badly, do you think that the initial reaction will be lasting, or will things calm down?  How will you be able to deal with that reaction?
  • Is now a good time?  Are there other factors at play that will affect reactions?
  • For those with more than one parent/guardian, do you want to tell them together?  Apart?  Who should you tell first?
  • How do you want to start the conversation?  Do you want to preface the news by telling them you’re nervous of what they’ll think, or dive right in?  Or do you want to write it down in a letter, and let them read it while you sit with them?
  • Often, family members take their cue from you.  If you start off by telling them, “I’ve got some news I know you’ll be upset about…” you might get a different reaction than if you started the conversation by saying, “I love you very much and want to share something about my life with you that I feel good about  …”

This is not intended to dissuade anyone from coming out, but merely to make sure that all things have been considered in this decision.  We find that most GLBT people have a pretty good idea of how their parents will react, but it’s good to think through one’s approach.

Coming out to one’s family can be a big moment, and even if parents have a negative reaction that is not extreme (i.e. abuse or kicking the GLBT person out), many newly-out people find that there is a sense of relief that comes with not having to hide such a large aspect of themselves.

If you do decide to speak with them, give us a call afterwards.  We’re here to offer you support.

Written by glbtnhc

September 12, 2011 at 8:54 am

Posted in Coming Out

The “B” in GLBT

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We get lots of calls and chats from bi folks.  And there’s still a lot of misinformation out there.  Those who are bisexual have the wonderful gift of being physically and/or emotionally attracted to both women and men, simply depending on the person.  It’s a sexual orientation just like heterosexuality or homosexuality, and is just as normal.  Bisexuality has appeared throughout history, in humans as well as animals, and is a recognized sexual orientation by all reputable medical and psychiatric organizations.

It is a common misconception that bisexuality does not exist, and those who identify as bisexual often face discrimination from both the straight AND queer communities.  They get told to “pick a side,” and can have additional issues finding long-term companionship due to the mis-guided idea that bisexuals are more likely to sexually stray.

These misconceptions about bisexuals are just that: Misconceptions.  The bisexual callers we hear from on the hotline are striving to find themselves as well as love and companionship like those of any other sexual orientation.  You can get in touch with us if you have questions, need to talk, or if you’d like us to see if we know of any local bisexual resources in your area.

Written by glbtnhc

September 5, 2011 at 7:22 am

Posted in B, Definitions