Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Pre-order Book!
Pre-order Book!



Psychologist talks sexual orientation, LGBQ-affirmative therapy
by A.J. Smuskiewicz

This article shared 876 times since Wed Jun 21, 2017
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Richard H. Reams, Ph.D., is a teacher, psychologist and associate director of counseling services at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where he has worked since 1994.

He specializes in sexual orientation and the development of sexual identity, teaching undergraduate, predoctoral, and doctoral students and providing guidance for individuals struggling with these issues. In June 2013, Dr. Reams launched an informational website, "Am I Gay?" ( ), to offer guidance regarding sexual orientation and identity. The site features a comprehensive seven-step guide that he developed based on a course he has taught at Trinity since 2004.

Reams also lectures and provides symposium presentations on LGBQ-affirmative therapy to help psychology professionals treat their patients who have depression, anxiety, stress, relationship problems, substance-abuse problems, and other mental health conditions related to conflicts with sexual orientation.

Windy City Times: On your "Am I Gay?" website, you define sexual orientation, based on a definition developed by Ritch Savin-Williams, PhD, of Cornell University ( author of The New Gay Teenager ) as "the preponderance of one's emotional and physical attractions—whether stable or fluid—to males, females, both, or neither."

You explain how each word in that definition was selected carefully to account for the enormous complexity, diversity and non-binary nature of human sexuality and gender identity. How widely and deeply would you estimate that this complexity is understood and accepted by the general public—as well as by LGBQ/LGBT individuals themselves?

Richard Reams: Among the general public, I suspect that the complexity of sexual orientation is little understood. Most people—perhaps 70 percent to 80 percent of the population—experience physical and romantic attractions that are exclusively directed toward either men or women. For these folks, sexual orientation would probably look pretty simple. Indeed, some will question why anyone would have difficulty knowing their sexual orientation, because their own sexual orientation is so easy to know.

I believe the complexity is better understood among LGBTQ individuals, and probably best understood by younger generations. Those of us who are middle-aged and older and who came out decades ago would have a greater tendency to think that everyone is either a man or a woman and either gay or straight—unless we are exposed to and listening to the voices of those who don't fit the man-or-woman and gay-or-straight binaries.

WCT: Would you say that the public is becoming more aware of the complexity of human sexuality and gender identity, compared with 10 or 20 years ago? If so, to what would you attribute this increased awareness?

RR: Yes, there is increasing awareness because there is greater visibility of the diversity of LGBTQ people in social media, such as YouTube videos and the Huffington Post's "Queer Voices" columns. Then again, exposure to these online sources probably varies generationally.

WCT: You note that younger people today, such as your students, tend to have more inclusive, complex and fluid attitudes on sexuality and gender than older people. This suggests that younger people are more enlightened on these matters. But what are some common misconceptions about sexuality and gender that you encounter in your young students?

RR: The Trinity University students that I interact with as a counselor and course instructor are pretty savvy. But I don't know how representative they are of 18- to 22-year-olds, generally.

WCT: Can most people accurately break down and analyze their emotional and physical attractions if given enough time ( such as by considering the questions about thoughts, emotions and behaviors on your "The Evidence" web page ), or do most people have mental or social roadblocks that prevent accurate analysis? What are the best ways to overcome such roadblocks?

RR: Among those whose emotional and physical attractions are exclusively directed toward persons of a different sex, then the answer is yes; they can easily analyze their attractions. But for those who experience some degree of same-sex attraction—about 30 percent of women and 20 percent of men, according to the research of Savin-Williams—there are potential obstacles to recognizing and accepting one's same-sex attractions.

The most significant obstacle is probably concern about the reaction of parents—even liberal parents—if the adolescent or adult child were to come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etcetera. Few of us want to disappoint our parents. Many people, especially younger people, who experience same-sex physical attractions hope that those attractions are merely the aesthetic appreciation of others.

Many hope their emotional attractions are not indicative of their sexual orientation. And for those who, like me, grew up in a conservative, homo-negative religious culture, those negative feelings can be a huge obstacle to self-recognition and self-acceptance. To overcome such roadblocks, the support and acceptance of other admired persons is essential—especially LGBQ-affirming straight persons and, if one is struggling with a homo-negative religious heritage, LGBQ-affirming religious persons.

WCT: You note that an individual's "preponderance of attractions" may change during life, so that, for example, a woman who previously loved only other women may someday fall in love with a man. Why do such changes in sexual orientation occur? Could they be related to hormonal or other physical/biochemical changes that occur as people age? Could they be related to personal experiences? Or are they simply dependent on the unique dynamics of each individual-to-individual relationship?

RR: Oh, I'm not sure whether biological changes over the person's lifespan can play a role. That's an interesting question. Among those whose understanding of their sexual orientation changes—which among adults usually means a widening of attractions—it's likely sparked by a specific relationship. Additionally, expanding knowledge about the diversity of human sexuality and growing affirmation of same-sex relationships within the culture as a whole have provided a more hospitable environment for exploring one's sexuality.

WCT: Can LGBQ-affirmative therapy be useful for all people confused about their sexual orientation? What, if any, are the shortcomings or limitations of LGBQ-affirmative therapy?

RR: Yes, it can be useful for all people, and there are no shortcomings. It's important to realize that an LGBQ-affirmative therapist is not merely "LGBQ-friendly." The therapist who has remained current with the field of knowledge is also LGBQ-informed. That therapist is up to date about the multidimensionality of sexual orientation, the diversity of sexual orientation identities ( for example, the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality ), and the diversity of gender identities under the transgender umbrella. However, therapists who have not advanced their knowledge beyond their training in grad school a decade or more ago are probably out-of-date. It is important for therapists to keep up with the research and to attend training sessions, like the ones that I and others provide.

WCT: Does LGBQ-affirmative therapy ever result in the patient concluding that he or she is heterosexual after all? Would that be considered a valid, legitimate result of such therapy?

RR: An LGBQ-affirmative therapist should never prescribe what the outcome of a client's questioning process should or shouldn't be. And that process is unlikely to lead to the client realizing that they are straight, unless a psychological condition like obsessive-compulsive disorder is at play. It is possible that a client might conclude they are "mostly straight" with occasional same-sex physical and/or emotional attractions. In fact, Dr. Savin-Williams has found through multiple studies in recent years that there are more mostly straight people than gay, mostly gay and bisexual people combined.

WCT: You also mention the Metropolitan Community Church ( MCC ) as a source of "affirmative ministry to LGBT people." What is the basic nature of this church, and how did you discover it?

RR: Having grown up Southern Baptist, I sought out LGBTQ-affirming religious alternatives after I came out in 1978 following years of questioning. I learned of the affirming beliefs of MCC churches, the first having been founded in Los Angeles in 1968. Over the years, I've attended MCC worship services in various cities and spoken with several MCC pastors. I know those pastors will probably know of LGBT-affirmative resources in their cities, including local congregations of various religious identities that welcome LGBT people.

WCT: Is there anything else you would like to say to Windy City Times readers?

RR: I encourage readers who are clear about their sexual orientation, as well as those who are questioning, to read my website. It's important for us in the LGBTQ community to be well-informed about the complexity of sexual orientation and the diversity of sexual-minority people. Like LGBQ-affirming therapists, we need to be well-informed so we can understand and support those who identify as something other than gay or lesbian—and those who are still questioning their sexual orientation. We all deserve understanding and affirmation in the LGBTQ community.

This article shared 876 times since Wed Jun 21, 2017
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

COVID Illinois to partially relax restrictions May 14, may fully reopen June 11
On May 6, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced the entire state will move into the Bridge Phase of the Restore Illinois reopening plan beginning Friday, May 14. The Bridge Phase will allow for expanded capacity limits ...

Gay News

One-third of LGBTQ college students had housing disruption during COVID-19 pandemic
--From a press release - A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law conducted in collaboration with the Point Foundation, the nation's largest LGBTQ scholarship fund, finds that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the educational opportunities, financial ...

Gay News

COVID Report: Herd immunity unlikely to happen anytime soon
Public health experts and scientists do not believe herd immunity is attainable in the near future because of proliferating COVID-19 variants and decreasing COVID-19 vaccination rates, according to a Politico item that cites a New York ...

Gay News

Pat Parker GCLS 2021 Trailblazer Award recipient
--From a press release - Pat Parker, a poet, activist, and artist will receive the Golden Crown Literary Society's 2021 Trailblazer Award. Parker shaped the civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights movements of the late '60s and '70s in the ...

Gay News

NIH to invest $29 million to address COVID-19 disparities
--From a press release - To bolster research to help communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19, the National Institutes of Health is funding $29 million in additional grants for the NIH Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against ...

Gay News

Advocates join to strengthen bill on K-12 health, safety education
--From a press release - SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Advocates for the Responsible Education for Adolescent and Children's Health Act (REACH Act), led by Planned Parenthood Illinois Action (PPIA) and Equality Illinois (EI), worked with the ...

Gay News

Mayor Lightfoot announces launch of Open Chicago
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today announced the launch of Open Chicago, the latest initiative to safely and fully reopen the city. Open Chicago's initial programming will feature activated, re-imagined, and pop-up spaces for Chicago ...

Gay News

New report examines bans on medical care for trans youth
The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released a new policy spotlight report, "Efforts to Ban Health Care for Transgender Youth." In 2021 alone, legislatures in 22 states have introduced bills to ban best practice medical care for ...

Gay News

Study: Gender-affirming surgery improves mental health outcomes among transgender people
--From a press release - BOSTON, April 28, 2021—A new study published today in JAMA Surgery ( found that gender-affirming surgery is associated with improved mental health ...

Gay News

Navy Pier to begin phased reopening April 30
Navy Pier will begin its phased reopening Friday, April 30, restoring public access to select outdoor spaces and attractions and cautiously resuming partial operations with public health and safety at the forefront. As part of this ...

Gay News

SAIC hosts 'Debunking Conversion Therapy' virtual panel
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) hosted a virtual panel, "Debunking Conversion Therapy," on April 23 that focused on how people have been negatively impacted by conversion therapy, what the Bible says and ...

Gay News

Queer health sciences art: U of Michigan students translate research through art
ANN ARBOR—Tanaka Chavanduka was inspired to reconsider his communication methods after a trip to a national conference on HIV in Washington, D.C. While there, he also visited the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of ...

Gay News

CDC updates mask-wearing guidelines
On April 27, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance on outdoor mask use for fully vaccinated Americans, noted. Fully vaccinated people can now unmask at small outdoor gatherings, or ...

Gay News

New Center for Applied Transgender Studies responds to trans misinformation
Combatting bad information and promoting accurate education on transgender issues are the focuses at the Center for Applied Transgender Studies, which officially opened March 31. The independent, nonprofit, research organization ...

Gay News

AMA to states: Stop interfering in health care of transgender children
--From a press release - CHICAGO — On April 26, the American Medical Association (AMA) urged governors to oppose state legislation that would prohibit medically necessary gender transition-related care minor patients, calling such efforts "a ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.