Shine is the new name for my specialist services that I offer to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning+ (LGBTQQ+), Shine is the new name that my LGBTQQ+ one to one affirmative psychotherapy, group-work and group therapy, supervision and networking services. As a psychotherapist I have decided that I no longer can sit on the fringes of our sector and I’m coming out. This year marked 50 years since the Stonewall Riots where a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the LGBT community against the police raid that began in the early hours of June 28th, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood. We need to remember that the transgender and queer community were the community that lead the fight at the Stonewall Riots. Throughout the world these are widely considered to lay the foundations that lead to the Gay Liberation Movement and the modern fight began for LGBTQQ+ rights in the United States of America and then this motivated change across the world.
As I embody my change of professional tittle from counsellor to psychotherapist. I realise what an important and complex journey it is to take on the title ‘psychotherapist’. Our mental health system has not got a good history of treating gender and sexuality minority groups with dignity and respect. The International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its diagnostic glossary of mental disorders in 1992. The DSM mental health classification to mental illness is still unkind to those that may have different ways of expressing sexually, sadly. In May 2019, the World Health Organization officially decided to stop classifying transgender people as mentally ill.
There are still many countries across the world where gender and sexuality diverse people are murdered. Many ask if we still need Pride to march through London. With LGBTQ hate crime on the increase what we need is to put the politics back into Pride. I miss my HIV+ brothers and sisters that are no longer here to celebrate how far we have come. There is still a lot of healing to be done within our own community and a lot of work to do in our wider community.
Many of the LGBTQQ+ legal rights in the UK have changed and for me this has brought a sense of acceptance and healing. Though, for many of my LGBTQQ+ clients, they have grown up in a time where you consciously are seen by society as bad, mad or sad. In my therapy room, I ask the client to think about the messages they received from their: community, culture, faith, family, the legal system, media, race and work-life. I am conscious that there are two of us in the therapy relationship that sometimes share a similar narrative. So sometimes the sea of the work can feel like choppy water, other times the tied has gone out and I have to remain the grounded warm steady land for my clients.
As a therapist that identifies as genderqueer (non-binary) and formally identified as queer (gay), it has taken a lot of healing to reclaim this quite medical sounding terminology to define who I am as a therapist and what I do with clients. As I realise that my genderqueer identity has been there for longer than I and in society, we had a name for it.
Following 20 years of working in the LGBTQQ+ community, I no longer see gender or sexuality as a cycle, linear or a spectrum. I believe we are a baby we develop into a child and we may develop a better understanding of our gender and sexuality as we get older. I am more interested in what it means to my clients, our community and us as individuals. I sit in a place of enquiry, not to learn through my clients, more to see how I can support them to cope with their everyday. I also have the language they use; they do not have to explain it to me as I believe if therapists put their clients in this position are not working ethically.
Clients that come from the LGBTQQ+ community need and want an affirmative and experienced therapist like me. I look forward to welcoming you to Shine LGBTQIA+ Psychotherapy and Joel Korn Psychotherapy, where the language may change, but the attentive, proficient and warm service continues.