Title: Gender Outlaws: Exploding Normalcy
Location: Widener University
Description: This presentation is part of Widener University’s Sex in the Library Week, a week long celebration of sexuality.
Start Time: 13:00
End Time: 14:00
For the second time this year the queer community in Philly has lost someone. Both deaths were people that I knew from “around”, but not close friends of mine. However, it still totally sucks. Last night, talking with a friend, he mentioned feeling like we need to talk more about both mental health and grieving in our communities. And he said, “This is kind of your thing.” And it is my thing. Many consuming years of school gave me a great opportunity to distance myself from others as I dealt with my own feelings and issues and helped me to learn how to be a healer in my own communities. I’ve been on committees, done organizing, ran groups, worked with people individually – and it still can all feel so hopeless when I mourn the loss of life of people who were suffering. I’m not so conceited that I feel like it’s my job to “save” people – I don’t really feel like that’s how the world works and I don’t want that job. I know there are some things in life I’m really good at (writing blogs at a picnic table) and other things I’m not so good at (meeting strangers) and I try to use the things I’m good at to help folks who are having a hard time because I know what that feels like.
My friend was right, we do need to have more conversations about mental health and about grieving in our queer communities. But what does that look like? How do we acknowledge the diversity of experience and feelings that people feel without judging and pathologizing? Where is the line between brilliance and mood swings? What if someone doesn’t want help? What do you do when everybody already knows that living in a homphobic and transphobic world fucks us up, but that doesn’t really stop it from happening?
I often write and talk to people about finding the parts of the world that are brilliant and magical and finding ways for those parts of the world to be the ones we turn to when feeling low. And just to really be as gay as possible, I have this Indigo Girls lyric running through my head, “Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.” And so in these moments of sadness I can talk all I want about hope, but I believe that first we need to look at the darkness, sit with it, and acknowledge it. Because it’s sad when someone we love dies. And it’s sad when we no longer see the face of someone we recognize in the crowd like we once always depended on in a way we didn’t even understand.
And so I write this, thinking of my friends words last night, and making a visible space for us to think about and acknowledge our loss and our grief. I’ve seen people come together to support each other in amazing ways, so I know that this is happening over and over again. And it’s gonna need to happen over and over again. And I’m going to write about it and talk about it and make art about it over and over again so that it stays visible and we keep supporting each other even when life flows like a dream. Because anyone who’s been there knows, that even when you’re surrounded by love, you can still feel alone. And I don’t want to “save” anyone, but I do want to be a voice that speaks up and says that it’s ok to ask for help, and it’s good to need other people, and we’re all doing the best that we can. Take care of each other.
This three week workshop will give you a chance to identify what you want in a relationship and learn some ways you can get it. Sometimes dating seems impossible or just isn’t fulfilling, it doesn’t have to be that way. This workshop will be fun, low stress, high humor, and is designed for single folks of all gender identities and sexual orientations and all levels of dating experience. Instructor Damon Constantinides, PhD., LSW has a doctorate in Human Sexuality Education.
(Oct. 4, 11, 18)
$60 members/ $95 non-members
Min. registrants 5, Max. 15
Registration Deadline: Sept. 27
Finding a therapist can be scary, hard, and confusing. Just because I am a therapist, does not mean that I think I’m the best therapist for everyone. I believe that finding the right therapist is as important as finding the right pair of shoes. Not every pair fits, even if the tag says that they should.
Finding a therapist can also be complicated by the insurance system. Many people have some mental health coverage in their insurance plan. To find out if your plan includes mental health coverage call the phone number on your insurance to find out. If it does, and you want to use it, you can do your own research and then look to see if any of the therapists you find are listed on your health insurance website. Many therapists do not take health insurance for a variety of reasons. These therapists may charge a full-fee or have a sliding fee scale.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself:
1. What problem am I going to therapy to solve?
2. Who in my life do I find it easiest to talk to, or, what did I like best and least about my last therapist?
3. Am I looking for a person familiar with a specific issue or community? For example, do I need a therapist who specializes in grief and loss?
4. What am I most worried about? What am I least worried about?
5. What is my budget?
These five questions will help you narrow down your search for a therapist. They will help you have an idea of what you’re looking for. Writing down the answers to these questions can help you figure out how you want to talk about it to a perspective therapist
5 Questions to Ask a Perspective Therapist:
1. Are you licensed? What is your license in?
2. Do you have experiencing working with ___________(whatever your specific need is)?
3. Have you worked with clients who are ______________(any specific population you belong to, for example: “LGBT” or “Jewish”)
4. What is your fee? Do you offer a free consultation? (Many therapists offer an in-person consultation. This consultation gives you a chance to see if they’re someone you want to work with – to learn if it “feels” right.)
5. What is most important to you when working with a client?
The most important thing to remember is that you have a choice and often the first therapist you meet is not the best one for you. When we have to do things we don’t want to do, we often put them off or try to get them over quickly. Although finding a therapist can be difficult, you have the right to take your time and make the decision that is best for you.
Damon M. Constantinides, LSW, M.Ed.
The holidays are almost over and the New Year is right around the corner. What do you want in 2011? If you’re single and frustrated about it, 2011 can be a new year and a new start. First dates can be especially stressful. Here are some tips to help you on your first first-date of the new year.
1. Be yourself
It is possible that you are not what your date is looking for. And that’s ok. You want to go on a date with someone who likes you for who you are. If you’re looking for a relationship, then you’re going to want someone who accepts and loves you, all of you.
2. Know what you want and be honest about it
Are you looking for a long term relationship? A short-term relationship? Someone to have sex with? There’s no right answer to the question, “What do you want?” But having some kind of idea allows you to tell you to be straight forward and honest. If you don’t know what you want make a list. Maybe you know what you don’t want – start there and works towards what you do want.
3. Communicate openly
Practice ahead of time saying what you want and what you’re looking for. If you don’t know, that’s ok – just be honest and focus on what you do know, “I’d like to get to know you better.”
4. Don’t be afraid to say no
If you don’t feel turned on by someone then they’re not the right person for you. You don’t need to be mean about it but you do need to be honest with yourself.
5. Don’t be afraid to say yes
If you want things to change then they need to be different. Take a risk and say yes. If it feels uncomfortable it means you’re doing it right.
6. It’s an adventure
Have fun! Try a new restaurant or coffee shops. Think of dates as mini adventures.
7. “a bad date” isn’t that bad
A bad date does mean that you failed. A bad date does not mean that you will never have a good date. A bad date is just a bad date.
8. Stay present
Try not to think about what happens next or what you’re supposed to do. Instead just pay attention to having fun and having an adventure.
9. Stay open
Adventures do not always go the way we think they will. But that doesn’t mean we don’t like them. Maybe you need to date someone different than you usually do. Maybe you need to try someone new to find what feels good.
10. Learn from your experiences
Dates are not only adventures they are also experiments. What worked well? What didn’t? Take a minute to think about it and make a mental note.
Damon M. Constantinides, LSW, M.Ed
Updated profile on Psychology Today: http://Therapists.PsychologyToday.com/rms/78556
I Heart My Genderqueer Papa
For me, it was the birth certificate; there it was, in black and white (well, black and light blue): my wife of 3 years as the Mother, and me as Father/Parent, with sex “F”. Myself being genderqueer, the need for my sex on the birth certificate of my child was problematic, but there was something undeniably vindicating about opening that envelope. Here our marriage is only recognized in a few states, and even here in New York, only recognized in some institutions, but we didn’t have to go through any special applications or appear in court to have this document issued correctly.
Clink link for full story:
When the “It Gets Better” campaign started hitting the internet I had mixed feelings about it. I was excited about the coverage it was getting, the visibility it was bringing to youth suicide in the LGBT community, and the activism it was inspiring in queer youth communities. However, I did not make a video. I felt like something was missing – a conversation about how sometimes it doesn’t get better. And sometimes it gets better for some people and not to others.
Below is an article for the Guardian that takes a critical look at the “It Gets Better” campaign and brings up some of the same concerns that I found running through my head. I don’t believe that “It Gets Better” is harmful, bad, or not useful – but I do believe that it’s important to look at it from multiple perspectives. And that it cannot be the only movement towards normalizing queer experiences.
In the wake of It Gets Better
The campaign prompted by recent gay youth suicides promotes a narrow version of gay identity that risks further marginalisation
Link to full Guardian article: http://gu.com/p/2y5bz
Check me out on Youtube talking about The Attic Youth Center where I work part-time:
Sex Matters: Tips and Tools for Talking About Sexuality in Your Family
This workshop will provide basic information about healthy child sexual development and age-appropriate family based sexuality education. Talking with children about sex and sexuality can be daunting for many families. For LGBTQ families living in a culture permeated with homophobia and heterosexism talking about sex and sexuality can bring additional challenges. This workshop will answer the questions : What does healthy sexual development look like? How do I decide what information is age appropriate to share? Where can I get more information?
Damon M. Constantinides, MSW, LSW, M.Ed. is a queer therapist in Philadelphia specializing in working with folks around gender identity, sex therapy issues, sexual orientation, and relationships. He is also a trained sexologist and has presented at regional and local conferences; you can learn more about him at his website, www.dmcconsult.net.