The moment we hear the word, homosexuality, we may feel uncomfortable , not happy.
As counsellors, unless we know what actually homosexuality is, we can not make justice to the clients.
Homosexuality refers to acting or desiring to act sexually or having romantic attractions/relations with the same sex. A female has romantic or sexual act with another female is called Lesbian. In the case of male, it is known as Gay. We can describe this phenomenon as a different kind of sexual orientation.
Whenever human mind finds something unusual, we tend to find out the causes relating to difference from the common.
But as of now, Scientists so far could not find out exact cause for homosexuality. However , we can say It is a complex interplay of genetic, hormonal, environmental influences.
When we refer to environmental factors, we try to build up some relation to early childhood experiences or way of parental up bringing which may cause this variation in sexual orientation. But here no evidence is found for causing homosexuality.
It is only a variant of sexual orientation.
In 1886 a psychiatrist noticed this different sexual orientation. Kinsey developed a scale to decide a person, gay or not.
kinsey scale 0- 6 scale 0 being heterosexual , 6 being homo on this rating scale .
What is the view of American Psychological Association ?
Only in the year 1973, American Psychological Association considered this phenomenon as normal. DSMMD- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has declared it is not a Mental Disorder and appealed to medical fraternity in 1973 to remove the stigma attached to homosexuality .
1990 WHO has concluded homosexuality is not an illness.
International scenario :
North America, European union , Latin America have accepted this as a variant in sexual orientation.
In US in 2004 in 1 state, marriage was legalised and extended to all States in 2015.
In Indian scenario:
Prior to 1860, this phenomenon was observed in Indian society also. Even we can see many pictures in ancient times in India also. Kama Sutra , Sanskrit text written by Vatsayana had recognised this practice. It was a known fact in ancient India.
In 1860, British had criminalised the homosexuality as it is against the nature. Indian Penal Code 377.
In 2009 or so, Delhi HC has struck down IPC 377 criminalisation of homosexuality.
But in 2013, SC of India has reversed ruling of HC and restored status quo to IPC 377 criminalisation of homosexuality.
In 2018 , SC of India has decriminalised the act of homosexuality, but Marriage among same sex is not permitted in India.
Still stigma about homosexuals are very much prevalent in India. Public do not know that it is only a variant of sexual orientation, biological one. It is by chance not by choice.
Why should we study the homosexuality as counsellors or psychotherapists? What is the speciality in this for counsellors and psychotherapists?
As many have believed, many health workers and counsellors may have similar belief that it is unnatural to have sexual relation with the same sex. Homosexuals do this activity out of choice only and have adopted this by choice. But it is not so, it is a biological one, by chance only. It is only a variation of positive sexual relationship.
Prerequisites for Therapist.
Psychologists are supposed :
To be knowledgeable and self explore about the phenomena of different sexual orientations,
to self educate about the different types of sexual orientations viz., LGBT ,
Bisexual means, one will have a sexual orientation towards same sex as well as opposite sex.
T means transgender – a person feels he/ she differs from those natural feelings of his / her biological gender and will have a strong feeling that he/ she should have been of opposite gender wants to change from the gender at the birth.
to identify preconceived ideas about homosexuality, e.g.., trying to bringing a change.
Be able to recognise conflicting cultural norms,
Be able to visualise what the sexual minorities undergo like stress by stigma, chronic daily hassles, emotional distress, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts,
Homosexuals undergo intense mental disturbances :
- Chances of rejection by family and punishment by parents.
- Maintaining anonymity difficult.
- Stress related to disclosures, anxiety of loosing family, friends, community support,
- lack of confidence, self hatred, shame, low self esteem,
- depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts.
How to counsel the sexual minority.
- Facilitating Self acceptance of homosexuality.
internalised homophobia. The counsellor should not show any prejudice, discomfort or stigma which will make the client withdraw and will be a setback in the process. Client’s experiences must be validated then client feels accepted , does not feel alone. When Being gay is not pathological and more information on gay people are given , the acceptance process starts.
2 Thus counsellor needs to provide, affirm, validate mirroring experiences to gay clients in counselling. More space with respect to their sexual and gender expressions is very important. This can provide the clients with an emotionally corrective experience that may be vital in self acceptance.
- Clarify the situation: Putting the source of guilt not inside the client but outside the client. Being homosexual is not your fault, but you are having trouble being a homosexual because of the situation you are in. So the locus of the problem is outside you.
Heterosexuality is visible, accepted and celebrated. On the other hand, homosexuality is invisible, unacceptable and stigmatized.
Take for e.g., Heterosexual privileges. Married heterosexuals can be together, need not hide their relationship. They are being acknowledged as a husband-wife couple at all times, having extensive support system in the form of relatives and friends, having access to multiple material benefits and resources.
On the other hand, sexual minorities may have to lead a double life in order to hide their sexuality from significant others.
Invisibility also means that they may have no knowledge of any spaces, resources or people to mirror their realities. No body is there to affirm one’s existence which results in a feeling of isolation and a deep sense of loss.
- The clients and their families rely on the opinion of the counsellor. Hence when counsellors provide basic information about homosexuality, like non-pathological, affirming it as normal and information about resources for gay people.
- Stigma, discrimination, internalised homophobia and difficulties with self acceptance is a vicious cycle. The more the number of negative life events and experiences of violence and discrimination related to one’s sexuality, the more the individual is likely to be isolated, feel ashamed, inadequate and unsupported and the more the number of difficulties with self acceptance. It is important that counsellors recognise this cycle in the counselling sessions.
7 Coming out from the closet
Acceptance at client’s level
second level a family member father or mother or responsible caretaker , they may be called to the session and explained…
Third level friends/ work place / relatives. And to the public at large.
- Therapeutic group is another effective strategy to enhance self acceptance in clients who have high degree of internalised homophobia. Many clients may have faced while growing up the isolation. Group sessions will help to reduce isolation. They also provide safe ventilation spaces. When we listen to each other’s stories of struggle, the resilience can be cathartic as well as healing.
8 Relationship issues relating to their partners.
Just imagine how can a homosexual or a heterosexual choose their partner for expressing their sexual desires or for their sexual satisfaction.
We know what happens in the case of heterosexual…identification is very easy. Establishing contact through friendship or through marriage of the opposite sex.
In the case of homosexuals, identification is difficult, many hide their sexual orientation. Finding a friend or partner for sexual satisfaction is a big task. In this Information technology era, through net chat is possible, an app is available , once one down loads and logs into the app, one can find the suitable partner. It is fraught with risks as well.
Even if a Gay finds out relationship , it may not be possible to live together, fear of losing one’s partner, chances of multi partners, open, non monogamous. Some may become jealous, may be suspicious about partners, worried about abandonment. Dual relationship will cause additional stress. If one looses a relationship , experience will be traumatic.
We , as a counsellor, are not supposed to suggest anything in choosing or having a relationship. Some good associations for sexual minorities are there in metros, nowadays they can contact through net. What we can say is “ one can choose and have a relationship but for a responsible romance or sex “.