From the Introduction
I'm a certified Imago Relationship therapist who specializes in Gay & Lesbian Affirmative Psychotherapy, men's issues, and in treating sexual addiction/compulsion. Over the past 18 years, I've treated literally thousands of gay men in the Detroit area--in one-on-one individual therapy, in weekend workshops for singles, as well as for partnered couples, and in ongoing group therapy.
Again and again, I see clients making the same mistakes. Inevitably, I find myself giving dozens of clients the exact same advice.
Reading this book, I hope you'll recognize the stumbling blocks, both internal and external, that have held you back from living an effective, totally fulfilled gay life. Each of these Ten Smart Things is an antidote to a specific problem that clients have brought to my office time and again. Through my work with clients over the years, I've seen what works and what doesn't. Now, I'd like to make these "prescriptions" available for every gay man to use, in book form.
If you will, these Ten Smart Things are kind of a checklist, answers to the challenges that any gay male must face at one time or another--usually, throughout his life. Yes, every gay man can score ten out of ten, if he wants to. But none of these chapters is a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all prescription. Throughout, I'll give you real-life examples (with names and identifying details changed, of course) of clients who put these basic principles to work in their own way--almost always, with considerable success and satisfaction.
I ask every one of my clients (and everyone who reads this book) to recognize that he's a unique individual. You deserve health and happiness, as your birthrights. And yes, you happen to be gay. So to live a rewarding life as a gay man, you must tailor anybody's advice--mine included--to fit your own particular goals and circumstances, always keeping your own values, lifestyle, and personal strengths in mind.
In upcoming chapters, I'll introduce you to gay men who've crippled themselves emotionally (and often, sabotaged their romantic relationships as well) by not coming out to anyone except themselves, their partners, and a few close friends--and therefore, keeping themselves isolated. You'll also meet heterosexually married men who, in their 40s and 50s, came out of denial and admitted to having been gay all along and had the courage to come out, finally being honest with themselves and their families.
You'll read how coming out to your family can reawaken--even worsen--the dysfunctional problems that have been there all along. But you'll also read how men from 15 to 57 have forged deeper, warmer bonds with their parents, siblings, former in-laws, even their children. I'll explain why gay men are so often criticized for being "childish" or "immature"--and how to avoid falling victim to gay culture's overemphasis on looks, youth, and glamour. Afraid of growing old? I'll offer you numerous remedies, including meaningful involvement in your local gay community--and most importantly, serving as a mentor yourself, giving other gay men (both younger and older than you) the benefits of your own hard-won experience.
I need to explore with you the specific ways that sexual addiction manifests in the gay male community. Most cases of sexual addiction are rooted in childhood sexual abuse; and often respond to a combination of individual and group therapy. You'll learn why so-called reparative therapies--to "cure" our homosexuality--can't possibly work; and, at the same time, learn about the genuinely helpful "therapy workout" opportunities available to every gay man. Should the best therapist for you be male or female, gay or straight? Stay tuned!
Perhaps most importantly, I'll show you how to keep your romantic relationship with another man alive and evolving--as you both pass beyond the first stages of infatuation, through the inevitable power struggle, and on to deep and abiding love.
Believe it or not, your most serious quarrels and disagreements are potentially healthy, and can lead to tremendous personal growth for you both, both as partners and individuals. Even if a wedding or commitment ceremony doesn't feel appropriate for the two of you, you'll want to read about other gay couples who have taken that courageous step--with all the frustrations, surprises, and joys that went with it.
You needn't be a Mensa member to do smart things and start reaping the benefits. "Smart," because hundreds of my clients have already proven to my satisfaction (and more importantly, to their own) that these choices work. Often, even one or two of them has improved his life to a surprising degree.