Visibility of lesbian partnerships has seemed to rocket lately. In addition to the “The Kids are Alright”, the July 25, 2011 cover of the New Yorker Magazine portrayed two lesbians strolling hand and hand, clad in opulent wedding gowns, apparently crossing over the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey to New York. While the right to marry is historical and wildly pleasing for many in the lesbian and gay community, it is essential to leave room for diversity in the right to choose marriage or not. Some of my lesbian clients have been dismayed about the attention marriage has received in the gay and lesbian agenda. They have expressed that they don’t wish to marry, perceiving marriage as non-essential to their bonds, even deeming it as a “heterosexual construct.” At the “unofficial Dyke March”, a 20-something year old toted a banner which read, “All I wanted was liberation, and instead I got this lousy marriage.” Peer pressure often ignites the fire of conformity—the belief that if some behave a certain way, others have to follow. Therapists need to explore questions about marriage—both in terms of the client’s right to self-determination, as well as in terms of possible issues around intimacy—in this way equalizing the attention we pay to a heterosexual’s wishes and questions in this area. Finally, the ugly fact remains that homophobia still reigns supreme over our country and globally. This will continue to impact a lesbian or gay’s decision to come out (further) as a married couple, which may be a glaring distinction between heterosexuals and homosexuals marrying in the State of New York. The need to be attuned to the pervasive and often traumatic impact of homophobia, remains a central concern in treating lesbian, gay, and bi-sexual clients.
Gwenn A. Nusbaum, LCSW, BCD, CGP
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live or let live