Tag Archives: courage

Orlando Shooting, June 11, 2016 — In the Shadows of Disney World

Orlando Shooting
by Rami Henrich
When I think Orlando, I think of sun filled days,  blue skies, parents and grandparents offering up days of fun and excitement, showering their children with the time of their lives at Disney World. But from yesterday on, I will think of Orlando in a different way…I will think of the shadows. I will think of the mom whose son is still unaccounted for.

A night of death and life threatening injuries, of never ending pain and grief for the survivors of the tragedy that ended the lives of so many gay brothers, sisters, children, partners, and spouses has displaced those sunnier Orlando thoughts.

Today, the shock of yesterday’s news is sinking in.  When I awoke this morning I set out on my daily routine…meditate, shower, stretch, walk…but this a.m. I couldn’t get it done. My hour walk turned into a ten minute stroll — only enough for Herbie, my dog, to relieve himself. My legs were too heavy, my heart and mind pounding with sadness and grief and outrage.

On my walk, I thought about my work as a therapist, my commitment to working with all who experience them self as marginalized, and I felt deflated and defeated.

On the one hand, it makes sense to me that as more freedom comes forward, (i.e. marriage equality, trans advocacy, and more), the other side (including hatred, intolerance and limiters of freedom) surfaces with vehemence. On the other hand, why would anyone want to kill another? That has never made sense to me.

Today, I grieve with us all…those of us who knew someone at that club, those of us who knew someone who knew someone, all of us who are gay, who are related to someone who is gay, and all those who have fought for freedom.  And I grieve for those who hate, whose hearts have hardened and are unable to see or feel the commonality of being human.

Lastly, I grieve for the shooter, for the family of the shooter and those who knew him.

So many broken hearts. My heart is with yours.

Communication Challenges: Yes, That Again!!

communication challenges

by Rami Henrich, LCSW, Dipl. PW

Have you ever fallen into the pit of communication challenges? Or should I say miscommunication? What an interesting phenomena it can be, if and when you have the detachment to notice you are in the pit and are able to name it as interesting!

More often it is experienced as a quagmire, an endless spiral into the depths of frustration and at times hopelessness.

Here are a few tips to keep from falling, or at least to catch yourself when falling, into the pit.

1. First, tell the person you’d like to talk.  Ask if now is a good time, or set up a time that isn’t rushed to have a chat. Don’t just launch into your frustration or complaint without the agreement of the other person.

2. Begin your interaction by bringing forth good will. Start by letting them know your big picture intention.  Hopefully, you want to work through the current issue to improve the relationship, or to expand the feelings of closeness between you.  Say something like, “I’m bringing this up because I really care about you and would like to get closer.”

3. Agree together that one person will be the speaker and one will be the listener. And that you will switch back and forth so each will have a chance to speak and be heard.

4.  Speaker take your side fully…by that I mean say all you need and want to say.

5. Listener tell the speaker what you’ve heard them say. You can ask for short communications as too much can feel overwhelming. This is an incredibly important step as we all, at least the all that I know, crave being heard and understood.

5. In addition to hearing what the other has said, the listening partner tries to express back to the speaker what you’ve heard, venture a guess as to how the speaker is feeling. Being vulnerable, sharing yourself deeply, calls for feeling responses too. Not just the “I heard you say” responses. Both very important.

6. Then switch. Speaker become listener, listener become speaker.

Keep going until you feel a shift in the atmosphere between the two of you. I know the pit can feel bottomless but there really is hope!

How To Be a LGBT Ally

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by Hayley Miller

This post originally appeared on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) blog on October 5, 2015,  in advance of National Coming Out Day.  It was written by Hayley Miller, Senior Digital Media Associate.  We think it contains valuable information for anyone wanting to become more affirming and supportive to LGBT friends and family members.

For a lot of people, learning that someone they know and care about is LGBT can open a range of emotions, from confused to concerned, awkward to honored. It may be hard to know how to react, leaving you with questions about what to say, how to talk about being LGBT and wanting to know what you can do to be supportive.

An “ally” is a term used to describe someone who is supportive of LGBT people. It encompasses non-LGBT allies as well as those within the LGBT community who support each other, e.g. a lesbian who is an ally to the bisexual community.

Here are five ways you can be an LGBT ally:

  1. Be honest:  It’s important to be honest with yourself — acknowledging your feelings and coming to terms with them. And it means being honest with the person who came out in your life — acknowledging you aren’t an expert, asking them what’s important to them, seeking resources to better understand the realities of being an LGBT individual so that you can be truly informed and supportive.
  2. Send gentle signals: Showing and sharing your acceptance and support can be very easy. Many people often don’t realize that LGBT people keep watch for signs from their friends, family and acquaintances about whether it is safe to be open with them. It can be as subtle as having an LGBT-themed book on your coffee table.
  3. Have courage: Just as it takes courage for LGBT people to be open and honest about who they are, it also takes courage to support your LGBT friends or loved ones. We live in a society where prejudice still exists and where discrimination is still far too common. Recognizing these facts and giving your support to that person will take your relationship to a higher level and is a small step toward a better and more accepting world.
  4. Be reassuring: Explain to a someone who came out to you that their sexual orientation or gender identity has not changed how you feel about them, but it might take a little while for you to digest what they have told you. You still care for and respect them as much as you ever have or more. And that you want to do right by them and that you welcome them telling you if anything you say or do is upsetting.
  5. Let your support inform your decisions: It’s about working to develop a true understanding of what it means to be LGBT in America and trying to do your part to help break down the walls of prejudice and discrimination that still exist — for example, by supporting businesses with appropriate anti-discrimination policies, saying you don’t appreciate “humor” that demeans LGBT people when it happens or learning about where political candidates stand on issues that have an impact on the LGBT community.

HRC’s Coming Out as a Supporter resource, made in partnership with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National, is intended to be a welcoming guide for supporters to build bridges of understanding when someone they know comes out to them as LGBT. The guide answers initial questions and shares facts, strategies, and ways to show your support as an ally in the fight for LGBT equality.

Read the guide in full here.