Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgendered (GLBT) Issues
Atlanta is one of one of top 10 cities in the country for the number
of same-sex couples, and has one of the largest concentrations of GLBT populations in
the Southeast. The city is known throughout the region for being an
overall safe and accepting place to be a sexual minority.
However, many GLBT individuals in Atlanta have moved here to find acceptance, and have experienced
prejudice and discrimination in their previous residences. As youth in particular, sexual minorities are subjected
on average to a higher level of verbal and physical harassment than are their
heterosexual peers – often from multiple sources, including classmates, family
members, and members of the community. As
a result of this discrimination, sexual minority individuals often experience higher
rates of substance abuse, depression, and anxiety than the heterosexual
Each sub-group within the sexual minority population also
experiences unique stressors, apart from the overall discrimination that faced
by those who fall outside of society’s “norms” with regard to sexual and gender identity:
Gay males are often stereotyped as promiscuous, drug-abusing, and
responsible for the initial spread of HIV/AIDS. Although stereotypes are fading with an increasing
number of individuals' coming out, and an increasing presence of gay figures portrayed in
the media, gay men are still subjected to the vast majority of hate crimes
against sexual minorities, according to FBI statistics.
Lesbian women often confront dual discrimination, in the form of
sexism as women and heterosexism as lesbians.
Lesbian women can also face special issues around child care and family
building, including creating a “family of choice” or “gay family” which may take
the place of family or origin. Unique legal issues are also present if a
lesbian couple chooses to have a child.
individuals often experience
discrimination from within both the straight and gay communities. Although recent literature has begun to point
to the positive aspects of embracing a bisexual identity (freedom to define
oneself, ability to develop intimate relationships with either gender),
communities for bisexuals can often be difficult to find, with few heterosexual
or gay and lesbian communities offering full belonging and acceptance.
individuals are often the victims of
confusion and prejudice on the part of even the most well-intentioned of counselors. The term “transgendered” has evolved to
include cross-dressers, transsexuals and transgenderists, male-to-female
transsexuals (MTF’s), female-to-male transsexuals (FTM’s), and two-spirit and
intersex people – though not that all members of these groups would use the
term to describe themselves. Transexuals
are best described as individuals who believe their physical body does not
represent their true sex. Not all
transsexuals choose to have surgical modification, however. Requirements that a
mental health professional “sign off” on sex reassignment surgery are also
being called in question by clinicians and activists. Although any individual
would benefit from counseling before serious surgery, research suggests that it
is rare for those who have been approved for treatment to have regrets about
the decision afterward.
Finally, there are those individuals who are “questioning” and are still coming to
terms with their sexual identity.
Although the process of accepting one’s sexual identity has been found
to proceed through similar stages regardless of the individual, progress with
coming to terms with one’s sexual minority status is not guaranteed. Some individuals are unable to accept themselves due to
real and perceived expectations and discrimination from family members, religious
figures, co-workers or classmates, and society in general.
Fortunately, the fields of counseling and psychology have
been, for the most part, ahead of the curve in dealing with sexual minorities
not as individuals with “mental disorders,” but as individuals with problems
just like any individual, which may or may not be exacerbated by their sexual
minority status. Counseling theories
have begun to acknowledge that – just as with women and other minorities – previous discrimination
can also have a dramatic impact on the current mental well-being of
If you are dealing with issues related to your sexual
identity, or are just seeking a counseling environment that is welcoming and
safe for all sexual minorities, feel free to call Will Mahan, LPC at 404-229-6177 or e-mail email@example.com to
schedule an appointment.
Additional Resources in Atlanta (and nationwide) for GLBT individuals include:
Atlanta Pride Committee
The Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Life at Emory University
Human Rights Campaign
Offering services to the GLBTQ community through a compassionate Jewish
National Gay and Lesbian Task
GLSEN - Gay, Lesbian,
Student, Educational Network
Youth Advocacy Coalition
Youth Guardian Services
The CHRIS Rainbow Program
Struggling with issues of sexual identity, or with living life as a gay man, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered individual? Counseling can help. Call 404-229-6177 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment or free phone consultation.