Handling Restimulations About Gay Policy in Co-Counseling

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

Harvey's recent report to the conference of world Co-Counseling leaders (ed.: see Report To The World-Wide Leaders' Meeting in Present Time No. 101) has restimulated many people's feelings about the approach taken in RC to the re-emergence of Gay, Lesbian, and bisexual people. Assisting both Gay and non-Gay people to discharge this restimulation is an important part of keeping Gay liberation in RC moving forward. It is also a great opportunity to get practice at the larger challenge Harvey's report is pointing towards, which is how we as a Community and a species can figure out better policies towards and ways of including people who carry patterns for which they have been heavily oppressed.

So how do we give people a hand here? The first and most important thing is to recognize and gain agreement that what is needed is discharge. Very much argument, "clarification," or refinement regarding the policy has not proven to be helpful when so many people are so restimulated. Here's what I have seen getting restimulated, and how I've been handling it. For Gay, Lesbian, and bisexual people:

  • The policy sounds sufficiently like the oppression that many undischarged feelings about being oppressed are coming up. This is a great opportunity, since most Gay, Lesbian, and bisexual people are numb to the oppression most of the time. We need to give people space to talk and discharge about what it has been like to be oppressed, invalidated, controlled, and manipulated by the oppressive society regarding our sexuality and our decisions.
  • Counselors need to be clear about what the policy does and does not say. The policy does not say people may not choose to be Gay. It does not say people may not choose to be Gay if they are to lead in Co-Counseling. It does say that every Gay, Lesbian, or bisexual person who is going to represent RC in any kind of leadership role needs to be willing to work from the perspective that their sexuality and/or identity could be based entirely in distress. Many Gay, Lesbian, and bisexual people get caught here, wondering why we are being "singled out" and told to work on our sexuality. This policy regarding Gay people exists precisely because there is an oppression which sets Gay people up to defend our distresses. Everyone who leads in Co-Counseling needs to take a good, long look at his/her sexuality and how it may be based in distress. The point of our policy is that we refuse to abandon Gay people to the distress - that is, Gay people have to take this long, hard look at ourselves as well. Any less of a requirement would be an abandonment of Gay people to the distresses. We cannot shrink from challenging distress just because society is using those distresses as an excuse to target and mistreat people.
  • Any counseling approach that does not recognize the goodness of Gay people, the remarkable achievements that have been made by Gay communities, and the genuine and profound human connections that many Gay people have been able to make with people of the same gender through our relationships with each other, is unlikely to be successful.
  • In general, it has not worked well for Gay people to move out of the Gay identity and Gay distresses because they want to please other people, or in order to escape from how badly the internalized oppression has made them feel about themselves. People need a strong hand in contradicting and discharging the internalized oppression as well as moving on the sexuality. 
  • Any counseling approach that involves enforcement of the policy ("You must agree with this," "As long as you don't agree with this we will view you as a lesser member of our Community," etc.) will not work. Such attitudes can not only be oppressive, but can also render Gay people largely unable to work on some of the distresses that most need working on. Gay people cannot move out of their distresses by being forced to do so. Many Gay people took on the Gay identity and/or behaviors because there was a survival recording involved. Early hurts around sex came in in such a way that the survival instincts around sex and closeness that we have inherited from our pre-human ancestors got attached to sexual contact with people of the same gender. Thus, to consider not being Gay literally feels like dying, like it will be impossible for the Gay person to survive. People need help discharging these recordings. Being told that they cannot be Gay pushes them into a corner where it will feel like they are fighting for their very survival. Most people cannot discharge much from this corner. Counselors need to figure out how to help Gay people look at and discharge these recordings. A course needs to be charted that lies between enforcement and "liberal" neglect.
  • In counseling people on both the policy and the statement that homosexuality is based on distress, counselors need to relaxedly hold to the position as stated and not slip into arguing with or trying to convince people that these things are correct, or into sympathizing and agreeing with the client's feelings about them. People need lots of space to discharge their feelings about the policy, and about considering that homosexuality is based on distress. They will not have a chance at discharging these feelings if the counselor cannot firmly but relaxedly hold to the position.

For non-Gay people:

  • Again, people have lots of feelings that are stirred up by the policy. Some of these are about this policy. Some are about the existence of policy itself, about leadership and authority, and about how people feel when a strong stand is taken about anything. People need space to discharge whatever feelings are coming up, without being disrespected on the one hand, or agreed with on the other. Requiring that people discharge, rather than act on the restimulated feeling that something terrible is happening and that something must be done, is appropriate and necessary.
  • Virtually everyone in these societies has had his/her ability to think about his/her own or anyone else's sexuality interfered with by adult interventions into sexual experiences and exploration as children. As far as I can tell, most people, Gay or not, feel defensive about sexuality. (Just try to talk to a group of adults about most masturbation being based on distress, and you will see how widespread this defensiveness is.) Heterosexuals who have not looked at and discharged this defensiveness are set up to collude with the defensiveness dramatized by Gay people. If we are going to re-emerge, we have to agree that every area of human activity is open to the process of discharge and re-evaluation, no matter how embarrassing or humiliating it may feel to open things up. 
  • People need to discharge so that they can be flexible in how they apply the policy. Undertaking "crusades" to make every Gay person in one's class, Area, or Region look at their Gay distresses, because for years one has been "liberal" and not pushed people to look at this material, is just flipping into the other end of an unthinking pattern. Yes, please do not continue the "liberalism" of the past, which has led to many heterosexual RCers "opting out" of even thinking about RC's approach to the re-emergence of Gay people because they felt uncomfortable, or confused, or like this issue did not concern them. But please remember to take each person where he or she is and to figure out how to create the conditions and contradiction in the context of your relationship with her or him that will enable him/her to look at the distresses.
  • Part of our responsibility as a Community is to provide the resource so that Gay people can re-emerge from the distresses attached to their being Gay. It is very difficult to understand how to work with people on these distresses without having done thorough work, not only on one's own early sexual memories and distresses related to sex, but also on one's own sexual and other identities, on later hurtful sexual experiences, and on feelings in general about sex. The huge load of embarrassment that sits on top of sex for most people is a great impediment to assisting other people to client and discharge about sex.

In a certain way I'm quite pleased that there is some upheaval over this issue in RC again. We have tried for years to get heterosexuals to take on Gay liberation and understand how to counsel Gay people in a fuller way. Harvey's clear statement of the policy is doing a nice job of forcing people to look at what they think and where they are able to function as counselors. To the extent that it is kicking up restimulation for non-Gay people, it serves notice regarding the discharging that has not yet been done.

I am excited by what is happening around me as people discharge about these issues. For the first time, I think people are beginning to understand how much we have allowed distresses around sex to go unchallenged in general. In most Western societies, defensiveness frames most of the conversation around sex, resulting in a prevailing attitude that virtually everything connected to sex (outside of certain basic cultural taboos like incest or the abuse of children) needs not only to be defended, but celebrated. I think if RCers can make a decisive movement in thinking about and standing up against Gay oppression, and at the same time assisting Gay people to re-emerge from their distresses, we will also find ourselves making major strides against society's irrationality about sex in general and the many ways in which sex has been and is being used to oppress and confuse us and to distract us from our basic unity and our deep commitment to transforming the oppressive societies in which we live.

"David Nijinsky"
California, USA

Reprinted from Present Time No. 102, January 1996

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