Authenticity and the Gay Identity

Many years ago, when I worked in education, I spent my summers directing outdoor park district activities for kids. The children would come from the neighborhood to play various games. One year I recall a teenage boy coming to the park with a desire to talk with me. He would attend a youth group at his church (which was located nearby) and then meander over to the park facility. At some point in our conversation, he told me that he was gay and that he felt ashamed as a result his church’s anti-gay sentiment. He felt very alone because he had told no one in his youth group of his sexual orientation. His parents were not informed, and would have been mortified had they known of his gay identity. Each time he came to the park we would talk about his struggles with being gay. Because I had trained student leaders to work with the park kids, I was able to devote some attention to this troubled young man. This was my first exposure in conversing with an individual who professed to be gay. I learned a great deal about a segment of society that played out their lives in agonizing silence.

I learned that gay people, like other minorities, are used to being stereotyped. Those of us who are straight, perceive gays to be effeminate, flamboyant, impulsive and artsy. Most of the gay people I have met do not fit that pattern. They typically feel isolated because their behavioral patterns are actually heterosexual in nature with the exception of their sexual affinity toward others of the same sex.

With the advent of multicultural thinking, gays are beginning to feel more comfortable and accepted. Their level of confidence affects their relationships and style of relating to the world. The acknowledgement of being gay takes supreme courage. The odds have been stacked against those who choose to make their gay identity known. Many adults, now in midlife, are just beginning to acknowledge their true sexual identity. With such exploration comes the awareness that “I feel a stronger sexual connection with those of the same sex.” Such a realization may signal the emergence of terror – “I am not who I pretended to be.”

When you listen to the stories of those who are gay, you get a sense of the conflict and tension they have experienced in their struggle to be authentic. Most have known from an early age that they felt different about their sexual identity. In an attempt to conceal their feelings and behavior, many gays worked feverishly at removing any vestiges of gay traits from their behavior.

Adolescence is a difficult time of turmoil for most youngsters. Add to that the issue of sexual identification and it certainly makes the process of navigating adolescence that much more strenuous. Many schools are afraid to acknowledge their gay students and provide little or no support for those in need. Ideological and political pressures play a role in keeping school administrators and school board members from stepping up to the plate in support for gay youth.

In my professional counseling practice, I have personally witnessed the anguish and conflict experienced by those individuals who have professed to be gay. I have also observed the courage that many patients have demonstrated in the process of emerging from their silence over their sexual orientation. Learning to be authentic is an important component of counseling and to honestly identify one’s sexual identity may be apart of that process.

Although there is little evidence to support its efficacy, many counselors surprisingly continue to espouse reparative treatment for gay clients. Counselors, who many times disguise their intentions, choose to subscribe to the archaic notion that sexual orientation is a learned pattern or choice rather than a lifelong identity. Reparative therapy views the gay individual as disordered and in need of transformation. Generally, counselors who conduct reparative therapy for gays look for deep-seated traumas as a causative factor in the “identity conflict” of those they serve.

Counselors who insist on touting reparative therapy for gays typically maintain their own biases regarding homosexuality. They carry these biases into treatment and negatively affect the self-worth and integrity of those they serve. Their insistence in curing gays creates a climate of self-doubt and defectiveness among those they treat.

Many in the religious community are unable to reconcile their beliefs and faith and are reluctant to identify with those who define themselves as being gay. This fact causes many gays to reject their faith or live in a constant state of religious conflict. Years ago, a friend of mine decided to spend a weekend of solace at a religious retreat center. This was to be a time of isolation and reflection. However, her time quickly took on a new meaning. Gay men from churches throughout the country flew into this retreat center. Many of them were board members, elders, and pastors of their congregations. No one knew of their sexual orientation with the exception of the hundreds of Christian colleagues who met at this retreat center to worship together once a year. Every year, these men got together in the freedom of their true identity and worshiped God. They talked with my friend, expressing their sense of liberation and love for the God they embraced. My friend said it was a moving experience as she was asked to join them in their religious services which were filled with energy and passion.

Denial is a dangerous thing. Those who choose to ignore their true sense of self pay a price for their own personal deception. It takes courage to live with the way things really are. There are pitfalls along the way, but it is more honest and authentic. Those in the gay community have the right to define themselves the way they wish. Unfortunately, for openly gay people, there are consequences for living with an identity they did not choose.

 

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Is Plies’s Single,”Shawty” A Love Song Or The Perfect Soundtrack To A ‘Hood Porno Flick?

There’s a guilty pleasure I get when listening to “Shawty” by Fort Myers, Florida native Plies. On one hand, the musical track, the catchy hook sung by R&B’s hottest singer of the moment, T-Pain and the complimentary music video-complete with cars, jewelry, celebrity cameos, thick attractive females and a pool, fits what seems to be the perfect formula for a hit record on the radio, on the charts, on cable music networks and in the streets these days.

On the other hand, many listening to the song would find the lyrics offensive and demeaning to women (that includes the music video), and yet every time it’s played on the radio I turn up the volume and whenever I catch the music video on cable let’s just say that it’s “must see TV”.

I’ve said before that Hip-Hop, whether it’s uplifting, militant, political, comedic, ready-made for the nightclub, “gangsta”, or “audio pornography” is very seductive. Even the “anti-Hip-Hop” listener will find it damn near impossible to not tap his feet or bop his head to the beat. And if he doesn’t know or even understand the lyrics within the verses of the song, he’ll be able to pick up the words (or at least be able to hum the tune) to the catchy choruses.

But I’m not an anti-Hip-Hop listener. I love Hip-Hop. I’ve always been sort of an old soul greatly influenced by the 60’s and 70’s R&B/Soul music and yet my generation and much of my own identity has been shaped from the lifestyle of Hip-Hop culture and the sound of its music. Being that I’m a loyal fan of Soul music in which most of the themes center around love and romance, the Hip-Hop love song has always been a favorite of mine. There have been a lot of love songs in Hip-Hop but of course the most well-known, documented and celebrated one is “I Need Love” by L.L. Cool J.

Well, “Shawty” isn’t “I Need Love”!

L.L. is a master of the Hip-Hop love song. First of all, as his name indicates, Cool J gets much love from the ladies. But he lived up to their appeal and developed a reputation for writing and performing romantic, heartfelt songs about love and relationships. The lyrics to many of L.L.’s love songs could have been sung as R&B songs by Marvin Gaye or Luther Vandross without any reservation. L.L. knows how to make the kind of songs that will have mass appeal to the ladies regardless of race, age or geography.

But to keep it all the way real, L.L. has made “love songs” that are more about lust than love-“Back Seat” (“In my jeep….let’s swing an episode”) immediately comes to mind. Plies’s “Shawty” is more “Back Seat” than “I Need Love”. The song is basically about a guy that’s fooling around with another man’s girl. The relationship is far from serious and the lyrics to the song details Plies own episodes of raw, uncensored and unadulterated sex…

“First Time I Caught Her Shit, She Aint Even Know How To Throw It Back
Now She An Animal, I Got Her Sex Game Right
I Taught Her How To Talk To Me While She Take Pipe
& Opened Her Up & Showed Her What A Real Nig*a Like
I Told Her I Don’t Usually Do This, I Don’t Fu*k On The First Night
Cause After I Beat Ya Baby I’m Liable To Fu*k Up Ya Whole Life
I Got her Trained, Now She Suck Me With Ice
I Call Her My Lil Bust It Baby Cause She Keep It Tight….”

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a love song!

“Shawty” is a perfect song to play in the background during the freaky sex scenes in the average bootleg, ‘hood porno flick! It’s not exactly the kind of song that a newlywed couple puts on to set a romantic mood on their wedding night. The song is made for the late night booty call. As you can tell from the above excerpt, the lyrics are explicit and not appropriate for the ears of junior high school kids. Of course, let’s not fool ourselves, junior high school kids are likely Plies’ biggest fans!

“Shawty” is a song for grown folks however and I know I’m not the only adult-30 and over that enjoy this song. What is it about “Shawty” that has appeal? Is it the musical track? Is it the catchy hook sung by the “electronic” sounds of T-Pain? Is it Plies’s swagger?

There are many listeners that can relate to the kind of sex-talk rhymed in “Shawty”. Like it or not, there are more relationships based entirely on raw sex than those based on serious, long-term true love. People, young and old, are deeply and sometimes dangerously involved in affairs that revolve around late night wild, sex-capades. The details of these kinds of bedroom activities are often left secret or reserved for the men’s locker room.

But Hip-Hop artists are going to say what no one else is willing to say, right?

Yes and no.

“Shawty” actually follows a long line of songs, from Rock, Pop, and Blues to Hip-Hop that are filled with explicit, raw, down-and-dirty lyrics about sex. Some of these songs are celebrated as art while others are rejected as smut. I’m not one to make that kind of distinction. I will say that songs that speak of “love and happiness” (like Al Green would say) are universally accepted and respected because they reflect what most of us supposedly claim we want out of our relationships.

Musically there is nothing better than a beautiful, well-written, well-arranged and well-performed love song. I’m not knocking Rock, Pop or any other genre but I personally believe that the greatest love songs have come from R&B and Soul music, songs recorded by singers like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, The Isley Brothers, etc. But I also think that some of the best Hip-Hop songs ever made have been about love and romance.

I have to be honest in saying that the love song just isn’t what it used to be. I almost feel bad for younger generations of music fans who don’t hear enough well-written, well-arranged and well-performed heartfelt love songs unless they “dig in the crates” of their parents’ old records or listen to “old school” radio stations. For example, there are lyrics to some of today’s so-called R&B/Soul music that are just as explicit or sometimes more so than anything you’d hear on a Hip-Hop record.

Though the lyrics to “Shawty” are undoubtedly a turn off to fans of more conventional romantic love ballads, the fact that the hypnotic song is in heavy rotation on radio stations across the country and is quickly becoming one of the most downloaded songs on the Internet, shows that there is a rather large audience for music more about wild, crazy, and freaky sex with no strings attached than those songs about passionate and committed genuine love.

Dating Tips For Women – All the Good Guys Are Either Married Or Gay

“All the good guys are married, gay or idiots.” How many times have you heard or said that lament? I’ll bet it runs a close second to, “Have a nice day.” Fortunately, it’s not true.

Believe me; I know how tough it is for singles. I’ve heard some gruesome stories from some pretty terrific women. But keep looking, that special guy is out there.

There are lots of single men at large in this world, men who may not meet your qualifications – looks, intelligence, and personality, sense of humor, financial status, philosophy, and education. You have to mix and match the items to suit yourself. But if men were forced to guess could head a women’s list most often, it would be money, and we act accordingly by playing the part of big spender in an effort to make a good impression in the early stages of a relationship.

Money generates intense anxiety in men. For starters, there’s never enough of it, and I don’t care if your name is Donald Trump. I’ve watched guys make complete fools out of themselves trying to prove to women that they commute to work in a convoy of armored vehicles, and then turn around and wonder why their lovable, warm, intelligent personalities seem to take a backseat to their bank balances.

Anxiety aside, many times it actually is income or professional status or power that qualifies or disqualifies men from the dating game. Male nurses are a perfect example, I watched an episode of the Today Show on men in nontraditional occupations, and the male nurses – guys who you’d think would be working in a bachelor’s paradise, given the lopsided male-to-female ratio in hospitals – said it is more hell than heaven. The women, these men contended, are all more interested in the doctors. One of the male nurses said, “Here I am, I’m single, I’m heterosexual, not bad looking – but it’s a no go. All I get from the female nurses are about what jerks the doctors are. And at the end of the day they’re climbing into Mercedes with M.D. license plates.”

Ok, revenge is sweet. We all get what we deserve, and perhaps guys who have chased after the perfect “10” deserve to have their checkbooks leered at and fondled. But I’m less concerned about this sort of rough justice than I am about men and women losing out on what might have been a solid relationship because the dollar signs obscured the love signs.

Mating ritual seems to require the male of the couple to prove he’s got money to burn. We’ve been stoking the fire since we were teenagers. It’s those ideas and attitudes left over from adolescence that tends to trip us up as adults. Which stereotype came first, Mr. High Roller, or Miss Gold Digger? While there is no way to know for sure, they probably hatched simultaneously out of the same egg, the one that’s all over our faces when we refuse to grow up and look at other people as people, not objects – sex objects or success objects.

If good men are hard to find, rich good men are even harder to find. The search restricts women to a small pool of available men whose life-style and values may be at odds with a capacity for loving, sharing and commitment.

How Pornography Addiction Affects The Sex Lives of Couples

If one half of a couple is addicted to pornography in a monogamous relationship, it is a certainty that over time, the amount of sex that couple will have will reduce significantly (and eventually disappear altogether) and that any sex they do have will gradually become less loving and more perverse or aggressive as time goes on.

Many partners of porn addicts explain how at the start of their relationships their sex lives were breath-taking and about emotional and sexual intimacy but that over time – as their partner’s porn use increased – sex became less tender, more aggressive and far less frequent.

As this happens, many partners gradually begin to feel nothing more than objectified tools for the instant gratification of their porn addict – and totally interchangeable with porn – and cry inwardly at this. Some feel like punching their addict in the face when they are reduced to body parts to be mauled and assaulted during sex. They know their partner’s minds are with the porn images and porn performers they have seen and that they are – in effect – just pseudo sex dolls. They cease to feel cherished as a result. For many, kissing vanishes too – both from sex and their relationship as a whole.

Many loved ones feel that their partners would rather be having sex with “perfect” porn performers and not with their imperfect selves and this makes them feel ugly and undesirable which slowly but surely chips away at their self esteem more and more every day. This is made all the worse when porn addicts ask their partners to re-enact porn scenes they have seen or to act like porn performers during sex. Knowing their partners can only keep an erection if they do, they comply but then feel cheapened afterwards. Sex soon becomes utterly devoid of any real intimacy as a result. Sometimes, partners are not even asked for sex but are just taken roughly from behind. Others are groped whilst they sleep. This is probably because their addict has been watching “unconscious porn”.

As their partner’s addiction escalates, loved ones are often asked to do increasingly disturbing sexual things such as: remove all body hair so they look like the barely legal/ teenage bodies their partners are viewing; engage in S&M and bondage; have pain inflicted on them; have other people involved in their sex (which include “lesbians”, “shemales” and prostitutes); dress like porn performers or strippers; allow themselves to be slapped or strangled and are asked to have rough anal sex – amongst many other things and usually dependent upon what the porn addict has been viewing.

Their porn addicts soon begin to scare them. At first loved ones believe their partners behavior is simply sexual experimentation but soon realise something seriously untoward is happening yet loved ones can still be plagued with the feeling that it is they who are over-reacting and their partner usually agrees – telling them it is they who are “prudes”. Many loved ones do not want to be giving their partners what they often term “the nastier stuff” because it feels like a sort of rape to them but often do not have the strength to say no because they fear their addict will do porn all the more – and this is one of their worst fears as the porn is “competition”. One woman in my research wrote “Porn to me is like him having a lot of different mistresses – all of which my husband prefers to me. My husband has something that I can’t compete with – a never-ending stream of women who will do whatever he wants and ask for nothing in return.”

Often, porn addicts will go to porn for their arousal prior to sex leaving their partners naked in bed waiting for them. This hurts partners deeply. Sex then usually lasts only a few minutes and then the person leaves them immediately after climax (that is if climax is still possible due to the erectile dysfunction issues addicts have due to escalating porn use which is often the case).

The partners of porn addicts become obsessed over time with trying to get closer again to their loved ones as well as doing all they can to control or stop their partners porn use and will often go to great lengths to try and accomplish these things. In the process they often end up abandoning all their inhibitions and do things they do not want to be doing. But even “spicing things up” (like being filmed, photographed, going to adult or swingers clubs with their partners or adding more people to the sexual mix) does not keep their partners attention for long. More is then expected sexually of the partner. And whether the loved one gives the addict sex or not, the porn use never stops regardless how many times a day sex is given. Often, partners find their partners doing porn soon after having sex with them.

Often loved ones will start off being “the cool wife/ partner” by watching soft-core porn with the person, getting them subscriptions to porn magazines or porn channels as well as doing the whole “strip club” thing with them but none of these things bring the couple closer together. Quite the opposite in fact. It pushes them further apart because the loved one is enabling the addicts addiction and sex eventually becomes non-existent. Instead the addict just ends up just wanting to do porn on their own as their addiction progresses and the loved one is always thrown on the sexual scrap-heap feeling like just a room-mate to the person. If sex happens at all, it is usually the partner who initiates it and even then, there’s no foreplay or warmth and the addict has trouble orgasming or simply just staying erect/ aroused. Often addicts will fake orgasm then masturbate to porn whilst their loved one is asleep next to them. Addicts cunningly cover their backs by asking for sex only when their partner is too drained to be able to do it. Begging for sex starts to become humiliating for loved ones.

And so it goes on and on… Sometimes loved ones sleep on the couch to try and get the person to see sense but their addict simply does porn more now they don’t have to think of their partner being in the bedroom. Or the porn addict says they have erectile dysfunction due to being on an anti-depressant only to then be caught by their partner downloading porn and masturbating. Porn addicts end up complaining to their partners about being hounded for sex which leaves the self esteem of the loved one in shreds. This is the same for gay and straight relationships and where the porn addict is male or female.

Missing Persons Investigations of a New Age

George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was first published in 1949. You’d have thought that his vision would no longer be up-to-date 65 years later. The world he described was a world where Big Brother was watching people, constantly seeking information about crime think or any other kind of offence against the glorious super state of Oceania.

Edward Snowden showed us, that what Big Brothers these days are doing is not all that different from what Orwell described. Sure, the technology is quite different from what he had envisioned, but Orwell’s novel is not about science and technology, but about the horrible world where governments might monitor our every move, observe us in our most intimate moments and know about everything we do. Modern day supercomputers, satellites and all sorts of technology make that easily possible for various government agencies.

Yet there is so much information out there that is easily accessible without any spying satellites, supercomputers or without bugging mobile phones. It’s the information millions of users are putting online every day of their own free will, just to get some likes, re-tweets or shares. People tell themselves that they are doing this to stay in touch with each other, but they fail to realize how much of their personal information they are giving away every moment of every day.

With more than half of Australians being active on Facebook, it seems like this would be the most promising social network to start an investigation. The information found on Facebook is truly varied. There are photographs, comments as well as check-ins that give away a person’s current location. Furthermore there is a time stamp on everything, which makes it easy to create a collage of events a person went through at a certain time. No special equipment is needed for all of this with much of it capable of being performed with a simple smart phone.

Of course people tend to forget, that social media doesn’t mean just Facebook and Twitter. Apart from other household names like LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest, there are dozens of other smaller, niche websites that cater to all sorts of profiles. Finding information across all of these platforms can turn into a large investigation on its own.

Investigating social media is not only about snooping either. People tend to forget, that Facebook is first and foremost a platform for communication. As many people from the younger generations no longer even have a landline and choose not to publicly reveal their mobile number, Facebook and other social media may be an easy way of tracking them down for communication or to even serve court documents.

Being a private investigator and not knowing anything about social media is something that has become unimaginable in this day and age. While traditional methods such as surveillance are still very effective, they are considerably supplemented with comprehensive desktop investigation based on extensive social media profiling and as the next generation moves more of their life onto the internet the value of this brand of profiling is only going to increase.