March 9, 2007
Volume 35
Issue 10
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Sunday, Jan 24, 2021



Ask Michael
Ask Michael
by Michael Raitt, MA, LMHC - SGN Contributing Writer

Professional Comments about Coming Out: As most of you have heard by now, NBA player, John Amaechi, publicly announced that he was Gay. This created a firestorm of negative, hostile, despicable reactions from some people across the country.

First, I applaud Mr. Amaechi for his decision to come out and how he is facing the people who hate him with integrity and respect and embracing the people who love him. I applaud each and every one of us who has gone through the coming out process to build lives that are in concert with who we really are. There is NO shame in coming out! However, I'd like to briefly talk about issues I think are important when coming out.

During all this controversy, I could not help but think of all the people - particularly our Gay, Lesbian, Transgender youth -- who are facing coming out now and who struggle with the fear of the very real repercussions of this decision.

First and foremost, your safety is paramount! If you are in a place where physical and/or emotional harm could come to you, it is okay to be discreet. Eventually you will find places and people who you can be safe with. Look for those if you can.

Your decision about whether to come out or not also influences your mental health. For many, finally accepting and embracing our sexuality was a relief. We weren't as unhappy or depressed as before. This doesn't necessarily mean it made things better and our lives magically changed - we still experienced hostility and rejection from some around us. However, we were relieved to not have to have the internal battle which causes a whole different level of depression and anxiety. I have known many men and women of all ages, and in all stages of their lives', who have successfully and happily come out in the face of huge obstacles.

Hope is an important piece of the coming out process. Our youth have to realize and believe that they can achieve their emotional, relational, and financial goals. Being Gay/Lesbian/Transgender doesn't mean you have to give up on your dreams. It may mean that some of the characters in your dreams may change but the dream can stay alive. You will still face on-going challenges.

With hope, comes action. This means you will take steps that bring you closer to living a happier, more fulfilling, integrated life. You have to know that it is very possible to have the loving relationships you desire. You can pursue the careers and the financial freedom that reflects your integrity and pride. You will have a life that is meaningful and purposeful and that touches those who love you. Living an "out" life is different for each of us depending on our individual circumstances. Design it and live it with your individual circumstances and best interests in mind.

Yes, there will be real challenges and fear. Don't get bogged down by those challenges. Don't give up in the face of that fear. Don't despair. When it is safe to do so, access resources to help you in your process - competent therapists, friends, certain family members, books, etc. Get professional help if you need it!

The coming out process is very individual and very complex. My intent is not to make it seem cookie-cutter or simple. It is not. I want to provide hope and a sense of reality for people who struggle with the idea of being Gay/Lesbian/Transgender. I'd like them to perhaps think about things a little differently than they have before and to accept that coming out can contribute to a sense of well-being. Being Gay/Lesbian/Transgender is not a horrible thing! Living "openly" - as defined by each individual - can be a rich, rewarding, exciting, healthy experience. It's your life. Live it well!

Michael, I have a full-time, well paying job. I have a boyfriend and his psychiatrist gave him DHEA and now he is losing the hair on his head and developing body hair. What do you know about this and what should I do? [Editor's Note: This question has been paraphrased]

It sounds as though you are concerned about possible side-effects your boyfriend is having from the DHEA. Wikipedia gave the definition of DHEA as, "Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), is a natural steroid prohormone produced from cholesterol by the adrenal glands, the gonads, adipose tissue, brain and in the skin (by an autocrine mechanism)]. DHEA is the precursor of androstenedione, testosterone and estrogen. It is the most abundant hormone in the human body."

Aside from what is explained above, I am not familiar with DHEA or why your boyfriend's psychiatrist has put him on it.

As with anything that you ingest, if you have any unusual reactions or concerns about what is happening, you should contact your doctor immediately. Your boyfriend should call his psychiatrist and talk to him about the changes in his body. He should not go off of, or change, the medications until he has consulted with his psychiatrist.

I encourage patients to take an active role in their healthcare - be an informed consumer. Know as much as possible about what you are taking and how it may effect you. Part of being active is maintaining good, clear communication with your medical providers - they are the experts and can give you the information you need for you to make an informed decision. Please talk to your boyfriend about contacting his psychiatrist. I hope he does. Good luck.

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