Gaydar*
Archive
2009

Psychotherapist Joe Kort, MA, MSW, has been in practice since 1985. He specializes in Gay Affirmative Psychotherapy as well as IMAGO Relationship Therapy, which is a specific program involving communication exercises designed for couples to enhance their relationship and for singles to learn relationship skills. He also specializes in sexual addiction, childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse, depression and anxiety. He offers workshops for couples and singles. He runs a gay men's group therapy and a men's sexuality group therapy for straight, bi and gay men who are struggling with specific sexual issues. His therapy services are for gays and lesbians as well as heterosexuals. His articles and columns have appeared in The Detroit Free Press, Between the Lines Newspaper for Gays and Lesbians, The Detroit News, The Oakland Press, The Royal Oak Mirror, and other publications. Besides providing therapy for individuals and couples, he conducts a number of groups and workshops for gay men. Now an adjunct professor teaching Gay and Lesbian Studies at Wayne State University's School of Social Work, he is doing more writing and workshops on a national level. He is the author of 10 Smart Things Gay Men can do to Improve Their Lives. www.joekort.com or E-Mail

* Gaydar (gay'.dahr, n.): (1) The ability that lets gays and lesbians identify one other. (2) This column--where non-gay readers can improve their gaydar, learning more about gay men's psychology and social lives. Also, (3) a regular feature where gay readers can discover the many questions and hassles their straight counterparts--and themselves--must face!

The Turtle and the Hailstorm


Relationships take on many forms for couples, families, friends, co-workers, parents, and children. This month I want to focus on two common types of people in these relationships; the turtle and the hailstorm.

This is a fictional story originated by Dr. Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. creator of Imago Relationship Therapy. Some people say that in some relationships they are a turtle and in other relationships they are a hailstorm. Most people feel they are mostly one or the other. As you read this, which do you think you are?

This month I will write about how this affects your relationships whether you are a single, partnered, a parent, child, siblings and even work and school relationships. This story will set the tone for the month. I hope you return to the site to learn more of how this tale works in relationships!

The Turtle and the Hailstorm
Created by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D, author of "Getting The Love You Want"

Once upon a time there was a hailstorm and a turtle that fell in love.

They knew that they were very different from one another, but resolved to love one another and to help each other, they had three children. One was a turtle, one was a hailstorm, and one was a little of both.

When things were doing well, the hailstorm and the turtle were quite happy. But things didn’t always go well. If there was strife, there was a strong likelihood that the turtle would withdraw into its shell, or the hailstorm would hail with fury. Whichever one acted first, the likelihood was that the other would resort to its normal defense—hail or withdraw.

After several years, the hailstorm could sometimes sense that the turtle was in the process of withdrawing. This would make the hailstorm angry and hail was immediately forthcoming. Usually, this would accelerate the withdrawal process by the turtle. Likewise, the turtle could sometimes smell hail in the air. If so, the turtle would not wait for the thunder, but would withdraw immediately.

Over time, this resulted in the hailstorm hailing and the turtle turtling on a regular basis. There were fewer days where the two could be friendly and cooperative, and more days where they found themselves in their stereotypical roles. This angered and disappointed both. Each thought that the other was at fault, and that the other should change. The Turtle said, “If only the hailstorm would hail less frequently, I would not have to withdraw so much, and I could enjoy the hailstorm’s company.” Similarly, the hailstorm complained “If that turtle would stop withdrawing at every raindrop, we’d both be much happier.”

Just when it seemed that there was no solution to this dilemma, a Wizard appeared. The Wizard was very knowledgeable about the ways of the heart, especially in regard to turtle-and-hailstorm relationships. (It turned out that there are many such relationships, and the Wizard had seen dozens of them.) He explained that the two were in a relationship to one another for a reason and discovering that reason would unlock many blessings and opportunities for the two.

“Thank God you’re here!” said the turtle. “Perhaps you can tell the hailstorm to stop hailing on me.”

“That’s not the problem!” said the hailstorm. “The problem is that you keep withdrawing and that hurts me.”

Each turned to the Wizard for a verdict. But he smiled and remained silent fro a moment. After a diplomatic pause, the Wizard spoke. “Each of you thinks that if the other will change, everything else will sort itself out. If the hailstorm will stop hailing, Or if the turtle will stop turtling, them the other will be happy. But it’s not that easy – and yet it is!”

Now they were both confused. “Well, what good are you, then. I see only two options – one or the other of us must change, and neither of wants to. As a turtle, I don’t see why I should become something else just because the hailstorm says so. After all, it’s my hard turtle shell that protects me from all that hail.”

“Well, my hail is just as much a part of me as your shell is of you. Why should I have to stop being my full, uninhibited self?”

“The solution,” responded the Wizard, “is not either/or. It is both/and. Turtle, your hailstorm is in your life to help you grow out of your limitations and withdrawing. And hailstorm, your turtle is in your life to help you learn to contain your hail from doing damage. Each of you is as you are for a reason having to do with your survival. But somehow, each of your survival actions has gotten out of hand. Instead of making you happy, they deprive you of the happiness to which you are entitled.”

“Who goes first?” they asked.

“Both go first,” responded the Wizard. Every day and in every way, Turtle has to begin finding occasions to come out and stay out of its shell. And Hailstorm must begin containing the hail. As each progress, that on helps the other to continue progressing. Turtle, by staying out of your shell, tells Hailstorm that it doesn’t require a barrage of hail to get Turtles attention. And Hailstorms holding back the hail makes it safer for Turtle to stay out of the shell for increasingly longer period of time.”

“Now no one needs to do anything. You can both go on as you have. Or you can both make the necessary move toward growth, and each will benefit from the mutual transformation that occurs.”

“So now the secret is out. I have no magic. I am not a wizard. You two have all the magic needed at your disposal. You can choose to grow by overcoming you instinctive actions, and instead choosing to cooperate. In doing so, you each grow, as does your relationship. So have it all.”

“Not so fast,” said the turtle. “You’re still saying that I must change my instinctive reaction in order to make Hailstorm happy and…”

“No!” said the Wizard, emphatically. “You don’t change to make Hailstorm happy. You change to make YOU happy. You become more fulfilled by being able to experience the world more fully. Hailstorm is simply here to help you do that. And Hailstorm, Turtle is in your life to tell you that not every situation calls for hail. You thus can conserve your energy for when it’s truly needed. It just so happens that, in the symmetry of things, you will each become happier both because you have changed and the other has changed. But neither of you will be happy if this mutual transformation does not occur.”

“So where do we begin?” asked the Hailstorm.

“By doing! There’s nothing to wait for. Turtle, you begin sticking your neck out right now, and at every opportunity, without waiting for your partner make the first move. And Hailstorm, you begin by deliberately choosing to curtain your hail, without waiting for Turtle to extend all the limbs. And both of you must resist the temptation to blame the other. You got here together.”

“Each of you – together – begins by beginning. NOW! There is no further signal that will be forthcoming. Just do it!”

Story from a metaphor by Harville Hendrix, PH.D.

Why Do Gay Men Love Their Divas?


I joke that if you are what I call "Gay Orthodox," you can consider it a Gay High Holy Day when a diva comes to town. If Gay Orthodox, you must commit to closing your business or taking the day off. Treat the day as a Sabbath or consider yourself a sinner. Gay neighborhoods will be ghost towns as we flock to stadiums-our places of worship-for any Diana Ross, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Madonna, Janet Jackson, or Dolly Parton concert. Today's younger gay men flock to Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Beyoncè, and Christina Aguilera.

I, of course, am Gay Orthodox and must follow the Gay Bible, which is to close shop at sunset on these days to pay respects to these beautiful gay icons! We even saw Jack from Will & Grace briefly die and go to heaven, where he found that Cher was a goddess. "It all makes sense," Jack said on meeting Goddess Cher. "Elijah and Chastity are the names of your children, it's true you are!"

One can never forget, of course, dearly departed divas such as the late, great Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and the original grande dame of divas-Judy Garland. While not every gay boy or man worships divas, a good many do. Why is that?There are many theories. In The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture, Daniel Harris suggests that "at the very heart of gay diva worship is not the diva herself but the almost universal homosexual experience of ostracism and insecurity." Harris feels that we gay men live vicariously through divas who snare the handsome heterosexual men and that we like to imagine ourselves in their place. He equates diva worship to watching football and says that it's actually just as unfeminine as football: "it is a bone-crushing spectator sport in which one watches the triumph of feminine wiles over masculine walls of a voluptuous and presumably helpless damsel in distress single-handedly moving down a lineup of hulking quarterbacks who fall dead at her feet."

Time magazine even addressed diva worship in a review of Judy Garland's final concert on August 18, 1967, at New York's Palace Theatre. The article read, "A disproportionate part of her nightly claque seems to be homosexual. The boys in the tight trousers roll their eyes, tear at their hair and practically levitate from their seats, particularly when Judy sings ['Over the Rainbow'] . . . Judy was beaten up by life, embattled and ultimately had to become more masculine. She has the power that homosexuals would like to have, and they attempt to attain it by idolizing her."

On closer examination, we can see there is something decidedly masculine about these divas. They have a hardened, sometimes aggressively feminine side. In their performance mode, they are almost as hyperfeminine as drag queens-Diana Ross's big exaggerated hair, for example, and Cher's heavily beaded gowns and overly glittering eye shadow

Mommy Queerest

Another theory I hold strongly is that these divas are our stand-in mothers. Jewish clients and friends of mine have told me that Barbra Streisand saved their lives! Without her movies and songs, they couldn't have survived their childhoods. Many of these men had self-absorbed mothers who were unavailable emotionally, so what better surrogate Jewish mother than Streisand? She is already unavailable in many ways, so clients can worship her and fulfill some needs that their mothers cannot. These divas mommies will never let us down-they are whoever we want them to be. They're our mother shadows.

I am not putting down these divas! I adore and love most of them. My home and office are filled with dolls that celebrate these divas from Cher to Lucille Ball. While growing up, my divas were Diana Ross and Cher-which, if you believe my Mommy Queerest theories, tells you a lot about me and my maternal figures. Perhaps these divas' narcissism is a way to celebrate the narcissistic mothers and female caregivers in our lives.

In our early lives, our inability to attach and identify with men may prompt us to try to escape into the feminine realm to avoid the shame and fear of being compared unfavorably with other males. Although this is true of both gay and straight men, straight men bring these.

Setting the Gay Record—Straight! - American Psychiatry and Homosexuality: An Oral History

By Jack Drescher, MD and Joseph P. Merlino, MD

As we grow up gay or lesbian, one of our greatest losses is not having any rich stories and instructive tales passed down to us by those before us. Usually our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other elders pass on family jokes, fables, and stories about their own pasts—and our own, when we were younger. They tell us things like where nicknames came from, why they changed their last names after arriving from the old country, how their parents behaved in the old days—family lore like that. But now bookstores are offering an increasing number of titles archiving past events and the recent evolution of homosexuality. As a gay psychotherapist, I have always been interested in the history of how my profession handled—and mishandled homosexuality. American Psychiatry and Homosexuality: An Oral History provides one excellent resource for gaining this knowledge. This book contains numerous interviews of those who pioneered the depathologizing of homosexuality and helped remove it as a mental disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which mental health professionals use to diagnose the clients we treat.

Each time I sat down to read this book, I chose to imagine that I was sitting at the feet of those being interviewed, and that they were telling me stories the way my grandmother and other family elders did with me as I grew up—stories that intrigued me, angered me, made me cry and made me laugh out loud.

Without this kind of oral history, our pasts would be lost, individually and collectively. This book sets the gay record straight.

The front cover illustration is haunting, bearing a photo of a man wearing a mask that resembles something from the horror movie, The Hills Have Eyes. Under the mask is Dr. John Fryer, M.D., a psychiatrist who in 1972 spoke at a psychiatry panel on homosexuality, appearing as “Dr. H. Anonymous,” disguising his true physical identity—and even his voice. In those days, to come out as a gay psychiatrist meant a ruined career.

Fryer came to this meeting to depathologize homosexuality, telling about those gays and lesbians who were not troubled and did not seek out therapy. John Fryer took the first public step for us all, clinicians and laymen alike.

I knew that homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973, but was not aware that gay political pressure played no role in the APA’s decision to have it removed—as anti-gay therapists Drs. Irving Bieber and Charles Socarides later claimed. . In reality, the decision was “influenced by the weight of scientific studies” and a vote by the APA’s Board of Trustees, with two abstentions.

I first learned about Bieber when I was in college, writing a paper on why homosexuality was a disorder and should be considered so. I was then in my own early stages of coming out and, not wanting to be gay, sought out literature to support my denial and write that paper. I still have that paper, to keep and archive my own personal journey.

Just as s the pioneers transcribed in this book have something to teach those of us coming up—and out—behind them, so do we, the younger generation, have something to teach them as well. In an interview, Charles Silverstein, Ph.D., psychologist and well-known author of The Joy of Gay Sex, speaks out against other gay therapists who, he says, “condemn other gay people’s sexual behavior” by diagnosing sexual compulsivity. He says that gay therapists using that diagnosis are doing the same to other gays as heterosexual therapists did, which is to “diagnose these people as suffering from some illness because you’ve identified with society’s rules.”

On this area of expertise, Silverstein could not be further from the truth. As one who specializes in treating sexual addiction and compulsivity, I use this diagnosis very carefully with men and women, both gay and straight, who suffer from compulsive sexual acting out, without experiencing pleasure. This is not based on my “moral views” as Silverstein claims, but my recognizing compulsive, dangerous and life-threatening sexual behaviors resulting from trauma in early childhood, not on being gay. But I appreciate Silverstein’s concern and hard work to restore homosexuality to its rightful place of normalcy.

There are also details in this book that will make you laugh, at how insane things were in the 1970s and before. For example, one interview subject—Robert Jean Campbell III, M.D., well-known for Campbell’s Psychiatric Dictionary— recalls how anti-gay analysts Bieber and Socarides were at it again, trying to keep homosexuality diagnosed as a disorder in the DSM. Asserting that some homosexuals underwent an “identity crisis,” they invented a diagnosis called “sexual orientation disturbance” until someone pointed out that the acronym for “sexual orientation disorder of male youths” is sodomy.

For me, one very enlightening interview was the one with author and psychiatrist Dr. Richard Isay, M.D. who helped openly gay men and women to be accepted in Analytic Institutes to learn psychoanalysis. Before that, you were rejected if you were openly gay. Early in my career, Isay’s books, Becoming Gay and Being Homosexual inspired me in developing my work with gay men, providing psychotherapy to and facilitating retreats, workshops and groups for gays. I enjoyed reading how his beliefs about orthodox psychoanalysis changed, and how he let himself grow and re-think the assumptions he had learned and used for years—creating change not only on the outside, but on the inside as well. Isay lived what he preached.

All of the pioneers in this book paved the way for me so that today I could be an openly gay clinician, publishing books on being gay by both gay and non-gay publishing houses. I feel honored and proud to stand on their shoulders, knowing the pain they went through to help us get to where we are today—liberated!

How Tony Orlando and Dawn Saved My Life


When I was in middle school, I fell in love with a singing trio that protected me for the rest of my school years. Nowadays, I have to wonder how Tony Orlando and Dawn (hereafter, TOAD became such a strong interest of mine and why I was so obsessed with them ---and I do mean obsessed-- throughout my young school years.

The 1970s were a time for iron-on decals pressed onto your t-shirts. I went crazy and purchased every TOAD decal and differently-colored shirt I could find and even wore a different one to school every day. My peers—and even some teachers—made fun of me for wearing them. But I wore them proudly. I would tape their audiotape their shows on my tape recorder and listen to them shows over and over at night until I fell asleep. When their albums and records went on sale, I was the first in line to buy them. I became a card-carrying TOAD groupie.

Even back in the 1970s, their biggest fans were adult women and the elderly. In fact, when the group finally reunited in the 1980s after a long break-up, their audiences’ average age was 65 and above. So why was I, a young gay male teenager, so taken with them? They weren’t even gay icons—except that by ironic coincidence, they renamed the second season of their TV show “The Tony Orlando and Dawn Rainbow Hour.” The opening segment to the show featured various rainbows as did the set.

You cannot get gayer than that! But I digress.

After much reflection, I’ve come to realize that at the tender age of 11, my very public, outspoken interest in TOAD drew my peers’ harassment and ridicule off my homosexuality and onto my love of TOAD.

I was laughed at, bullied, spat at, and beaten by my peers,(both male and female—and even some teachers—for being gay. I had effeminate mannerisms and, played only with girls. I was very much a gay little boy, and everyone knew it—even me.

In order to survive their childhood, children unconsciously make decisions on how to adapt to those who care for them—or neglect and abuse them. In my case, I now see, I made an unconscious decision to become obsessed with TOAD—to draw people’s fire toward that and not my homosexuality.. Let them heckle and abuse me over my love of TOAD, but bullying me over my homosexuality was too painful and traumatizing, and too close to my core.

Today I am a proud member of the TOAD fan club and yahoo Web site. Alerts from Yahoo and Google tell me everything that’s going on with them. It’s so much fun watching these three group members—Tony Orlando, Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent—sing together, then and now. They’re often criticized for their songs being mostly bubble gum and pop, and that they’re a group for the “older folks.” But say anything you want about this pop group, it will never change that for me, they were my saviors.

Recently they released a DVD of their 1970s TV series and have re-released their albums on CD. Now reunited, they and are coming out (no pun intended) with a Christmas album. I am in TOAD heaven! I cannot get enough, and if they decide to tour, I’m taking the first flight to wherever they perform their first concert together.

Who were your “shield heroes” from childhood and what did they mean to you? What do they mean to you still today? I would love to hear from you through email to tell me your stories.

How the Grinch Stole Marriage with apologies to Dr. Seuss Joe's Archived Articles by Mary Ann Horton, Lisa and Bill Koontz


Every Gay down in Gayville liked Gay Marriage a lot......

But the Grinch, who lived just east of Gayville, did NOT!!

 

The Grinch hated happy Gays! The whole Marriage season!

Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.

It could be, perhaps, his Florsheims were too tight.

But I think the most likely reason of all was

His heart and brain were two sizes too small.

 

"And they're buying their tuxes!" he snarled with a sneer,

"Tomorrow's the first Gay Wedding! It's practically here!"

Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,

"I MUST find some way to stop Gay Marriage from coming!"

 

For, tomorrow, he knew... All the Gay girls and boys

would wake bright and early. They'd rush for their vows!

And then! Oh, the Joys! Oh, the Joys!

 

And THEN they'd do something he liked least of all!

Every Gay down in Gayville the tall and the small,

would stand close together, all happy and blissing.

They'd stand hand-in-hand. And the Gays would start kissing!

 

"I MUST stop Gay Marriage from coming! ...But HOW?"

 

Then he got an idea! An awful idea!

 

THE GRINCH GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

 

"I know what to do!" The Grinch laughed in his throat.

And he went to his closet, grabbed his sheet and his hood.

And he chuckled, and clucked, with a great Grinchy word!

"With this beard and this cross, I look just like our Lord!"

 

"All I need is a Scripture..." The Grinch looked around.

But, true Scripture is scarce, there was none to be found.

Did that stop the old Grinch...? No! The Grinch simply said,

"With no Scripture on Marriage, I'll fake one instead!"

"It's one man and one woman," the Grinch falsely said.

 

Then he broke in the courthouse. A rather tight pinch.

But, if Georgie could do it, then so could the Grinch.

The little Gay benefits hung in a row.

"These bennies," he grinned, "are the first things to go!"

 

Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most uncanny,

around the whole room, and he took every benny!

Health care for partners! Doctors for kiddies!

Tax rights! Adoptions! Pensions and Wills!

And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, with a chill,

Stuffed all the bags, one by one, in his bill.

 

Then he slunk to the kitchen, and stole Wedding Cake.

He cleaned out that icebox and made it look straight.

He took the Gay-bar keys! He took the Gay Flag.

Why, that Grinch even took their last Gay birdseed bag!

 

"And NOW!" grinned the Grinch, "I will pocket their Rings."

And the Grinch grabbed the Rings, and he started to shove

when he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.

He turned around fast, and off flew his hood.

Little Lisa-Bi Gay behind him sadly stood.

The Grinch had been caught by small Lisa-Bi.

She stared at the Grinch and said, "My, oh, my, why?"

"Why are you taking our Wedding Rings? WHY?"

 

But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick

He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!

"Why, my sweet little tot," the fake Shepherd sneered,

"The judges are evil, the other states weird."

"I'll fix the rings there and I'll bring them back here."

 

It was quarter past dawn... All the Gays, still a-bed,

all the Gays still a-snooze when he packed up and fled.

"Pooh-Pooh to the Gays!" he was grinch-ish-ly humming.

"They're finding out now no Gay Marriage is coming!"

"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two

then the Gays down in Gayville will all cry Boo-Hoo!"

 

He stared down at Gayville! The Grinch popped his eyes!

Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Gay down in Gayville, the tall and the small,

was kissing! Without any bennies at all!

He HADN'T stopped Marriage from coming! IT CAME!

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

 

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"

"It came without lawyers, no papers to sort!"

"It came without licenses, came without courts!"

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!

 

"Maybe Marriage," he thought, "doesn't come from the court.

Maybe Marriage...perhaps... comes right from the heart.

Maybe Marriage comes from all the words the Gays say.

Words like Husband, like Wedding, and Spouse who is Gay."

And what happened then...? Well...in Gayville they say

that the Grinch's small brain grew three sizes that day!

 

And the Gays had their Weddings. They promised for life.

They swore to be faithful, to Wife and her Wife.

The Husbands were happy, to each other they vowed

To be Out and be Honest, be Gay and be Proud.

They told all their neighbors and friends of their Spouse,

They told of their Marriage and sharing their house.

They said "We got Married." They shouted it loud.

Their marital status was "Married and Proud."

 

And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,

He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light.

And he brought back the rings, cake and Gay birdseed bags!

And he... ...HE HIMSELF... hung the Gay Rainbow Flag!

 

The Lord looked down, at the proud and the tall,

and said "These are my children, and I love them all."

The moral of this story is that we don't need a piece of paper and the approval of the state to get married. We can just get married. Instead of having a committment ceremony, we can have a wedding. Instead of partners, we can have husbands and wives. Instead of calling our relationship a Domestic Partnership or a Civil Union, we can call it a Marriage. Whether any government recognizes it is separate from what we call it. It's a free country and we can call ourselves what we like.

In 5 or 10 or 20 years, with plenty of visible same-sex married couples, the world won't see us as strange or scary, we're just the married couple down the street that happens to be gay. Eventually, the legal recognization of our marriages will follow.

If we allow ourselves to voluntarily sit in the back of the bus, we'll never make any progress. Rosa Parks had to sit in the front of the bus to make a difference. We must as well.

Copyright (c) 2004 by Mary Ann Horton. Permission granted to copy in whole, with attribution. This is a parody of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Thanks to www.christiangays.com/humour/grinch.shtml for this holiday story!

©2009, by Joe Kort



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