Counseling on "Gay" Distress

For RC's most recent perspective on issues related to this article, see: Human Connections, and Sex

In the October, 1995 issue of Present Time (ed.: see Report To The World-Wide Leaders' Meeting in Present Time No. 101), I renewed a discussion about combatting the oppressions of Gay men, Lesbians, and bisexual people and our policy about handling their counseling. This was in the printed report to the world-wide RC leaders' meeting of July and August, 1995. It was as an introduction to the main "frontier" question proposed at the meeting. This was the working out of a policy and following actions about the groups of people "marked out by the society for destruction" for the hurts which have been imposed upon them.

In this introduction I summarized our long-standing (but, in recent years, unemphasized) policy about Gay oppression as follows:

  1. Re-evaluation Counseling opposes the oppression of Gay people as completely wrong.
  2. Participation in same-gender sex arises only out of experiences of the individual having been hurt and left with a distress pattern by those experiences.
  3. We in Re-evaluation Counseling have a responsibility to find ways to successfully counsel the individuals saddled with the patterns that lead to this activity in order to help them discharge and be free from such patterns.

(See the October, 1995 Present Time, pages 40-45.)

The response of the Communities to the main, new challenge about "people marked for destruction by the society because of having been hurt" has been slow, and understandably so. The conditioning of the society has been so total in these areas that we will necessarily move slowly in our thinking at first, but this process will gather speed as our thinking progresses.

The response to the challenge to clarify and update our policies about the oppression and counseling of Gay individuals, as a necessary preliminary task, has been immediate and satisfactory. A great deal of discharge has begun to take place. A few individuals have been temporarily confused, but not many. The challenge to counsel as clients in their sessions with the temporary assumption (if not yet the conviction) that the Communities' policies are correct has proven very workable. It has held up to view some places in RC where the non-RC notion of letting one's feelings substitute for one's logic had been "hiding out."

Hard, sharp thinking is taking place everywhere, not least among our RC leaders who had identified themselves as "Gay." Much discharge seems to be occurring and new, sharp thinking resulting, especially among the RC leaders, who often have seemed relieved that their identification of themselves as "Gay" was challenged and they were thus motivated to dig out and discharge on the many very early incidents "connected with sex in any way at all," to use a famous phrase. Previously unchallenged assumptions are being challenged widely with excellent discussions as well as with discharge sessions.

The following pages contain the beginnings of these discussions. Marvelous writing is arriving in almost every mail. It's plain that there will be some extremely lively issues of Side by Side (the RC Gay liberation journal) being published in the near future.

Some reminders I would make to Co-Counselors (nominally "Gay" or nominally "straight") who will be offering the necessary good counseling to people who have thought of themselves as Gay:

  1. When counselor, your own conclusions about the rationality of Gay behavior have no place in the session at all. You are there to listen with full attention and complete delight to anything the client wishes to say.
  2. If the client insists on rehearsing opinions or conclusions, it will be a test of your counselorhood to listen with delight until he or she feels certain of her or his safety with you. Then, at some time or other, request the story of what actually happened long ago when he or she was very young (or younger than that, or younger than that even). When the client is actually telling the stories of these early incidents (dreams?, fantasies?), look to what contradictions you as the counselor can suggest or furnish that will allow the discharge to take place.
  3. Remember that the patterned pull towards sex or towards sexual feelings often becomes a cover for the deep pain of isolation, or loneliness, or the failure to feel cared for, or the failure to be liked. These deeper distresses are the ones that are likely to need contradiction, even though they are masked by a thin covering of sexual feelings.
  4. Remember that, as in all counseling, the "attractiveness" of a pattern is based on the addictive pull of the pattern itself. No one really wants to stay a prisoner of a pattern no matter how much she or he seems to have become attracted to it, resigned to it, or hopeless about it.

All this, of course, is still a preliminary (although a necessary preliminary) to the forging of a policy for beginning the struggle to rescue the larger groups of people that have been, until now, marked for destruction simply because of the patterns left on them from having been hurt by the operation of the oppressive society. See pages 8-9.

Harvey Jackins

Reprinted from Present Time No. 102, January 1996

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00