Updated: Feb 1
I have noticed something amongst the therapy that is offered for the LGBTQ+ community - the approach seems to be more gentle, less focus on stereotypical societal ideas and more practice with self love and confidence instead. And - this is a great way to go about it, so I'd like to adopt more of this myself.
I have so, so many great friends who fall into the "category" of LGBTQ+, so I do count myself as a kind of "ally" - I'm of course a supporter of gay & lesbian marriage, transgender rights and societal recognition of non-binary and queer folk. Growing up has been an amazing learning process - calling people "gay" used to be funny back in school, but in the last 10 years so many things have changed and I truly understand the ongoing struggles which face people who identify as LGBTQ+ now.
The UK has become so much more relaxed with issues concerning queer people, which is fantastic. Unfortunately the same cannot be said across the globe - in places like Nigeria, Kenya, Russia and Tunisia, homosexuality is only accepted by less than 15% off the population. Even in my birth country of Israel, less than half the population agree with homosexuality. I have lost track of the derogatory comments I see daily online, directed towards trans people and non-binary folk, often describing innocent people who never even entered the conversation, as having a "mental illness". It is rather vulgar and downright insane!
Are people really so "delusional" because they were born with a different brain chemistry to yours? Do you really believe someone choosing to express how they feel through clothing and accessories is harming your life in any way? I mean, I'm "cisgender" myself, but if all I ever read were nasty comments directed at my way of life then I would probably develop a real "mental illness" of depression as a result!
"The gay people that make their whole identity about being gay are so annoying" - uh, hello, that's the point?! No one ever changed anything from being bland, boring and "standard". Protests are supposed to be annoying. People who have been trodden upon their whole lives become so irritated and annoyed by all of the mistreatment that they need to make a statement, otherwise how will they be heard? The reason you find it annoying is because you have been conditioned to think that "gay" is a negative word (spoiler alert: if you think a thing is negative, everything about it is going to seem quite annoying!).
When you view a person as sort of an iceberg - where their expression to you and the rest of the world is the tip, and what they show themselves is hidden below - you begin to see past the "annoyingness" and start to understand what lead them to express themselves in their way. This goes for everyone really, and shouldn't be an "LGBTQ+ issue", so feel free to apply this principle to anyone you come across.
"There are only 2 genders. If you're a man, you're a man" - ok darling, here's your uranium for that time machine so you can hop off back to the Stone Age whence you came from. I don't think I need to tell you about all the different genders and two-spirits in Native American culture because that information is readily available via Google. There's a great reason why lots of people in the West are experimenting with their gender identity nowadays - because we are fed up of all the BS societal pressures and expectations of gender! People have been working since the 20's to better the future of their children, and finally their vision is coming to life!
What does it mean to "be a woman"? How does being a man "feel"? Why does wearing a dress make a man look laughable? Why does having a moustache as a woman look "ugly"? What is so "sinful" about two women engaging in sexual intercourse? Why does a person need to assign themselves a gender identity? All of these questions I have pondered over for most of my self-aware life, and whenever I try to ask these questions to whom I deem to be "normal" people, I never get a reasonable answer. Why? Because when you truly think about it, none of the expectations laid out in those questions make any sense! How can you reason with nonsense? You can't!!
I'm sure there are many other trendy catch phrases that the homophobics like to use and I could be here all year writing about them but then my back would probably be in agony by that point from all the stress they generate. The great thing about being an empath is that I can feel all of your energy; the crap thing about being an empath is that I can feel all of your energy. So, let's not give those nasty people any more of our precious blog space. We'll talk about the great benefits of massage for LGBTQ+ issues and give you something to be happy for instead!
BAME & Sub-group Identity Discrimination
Over half of BAME (Black Asian & Minority Ethnic) identifying people in the LGBTQ+ community and over a third of trans folk say they experience discrimination due to their identities - this is in the UK, so I can only imagine how much worse those figures would be elsewhere. Massage does not discriminate - every body is a beautiful body to connect through touch. Massage is intended to manipulate your bodily stresses, whilst acting as a listener for your mental struggles. I try to keep my side of the conversation minimal so you can actually relax (and hopefully fall asleep!) and open up about anything if you feel comfortable to share.
Being of Asian descent myself, I am more than aware of how my skin tone has caused barriers in society and faced racism of my own. I have felt systematic discrimination and discrimination in the workplace due to literally how I look and it has lead me down the path of travel... because elsewhere I have been much more graciously accepted! I have known many black folk to face systematic abuse and societal disregard which is shocking in the 21st Century.
Discrimination against BAME folk in the UK has to stop; I welcome you with open arms into my space with warm understanding and all the support to help you heal from the abuse you have suffered.
Being Open with Family
Many people from the LGBTQ+ community experience feelings of shame, isolation and abandonment as a result from being open about their sexuality with their families. More than half of all lesbians, bi & gay people and trans people have reported they don't feel comfortable expressing how they truly feel with their families.
Massage does not exclude or turn you away for your sexuality. Massage welcomes you into its sacred space where you are free from judgement or harm. My approach to relaxation is always "comfort above all"; I know how difficult it can be to relax when you are naked on a couch with someone you have never met. I know how uncomfortable a bad head position can be, and it is so distracting! So when you come into my healing space, you will always be asked if you are comfortable, otherwise all my work will be pointless!
Comfort doesn't just stop at your neck positioning; I've lost track of all the "uncomfortable" comments I've received from my previous clients. People are so insecure about the most mundane things - "sorry about my leg hair", "sorry I forgot to shower today", "sorry for my fat belly" (???), sorry, sorry, SORRY!
Hey - it's ok! I really don't mind, honest! Stop apologising for existing! You're allowed to be who you are in my space. You're allowed to say what you think, what keeps eating away at your mind at night, what's that recurring song that won't go away? What's your worst intrusive thought? Being gay doesn't mean you aren't human - you're not another species, we all experience the same thought patterns and feelings.
I am also here to help you build self-love and confidence so that you can feel comfortable opening up about who you are to your families & friends. I cannot control their reactions or responses, but I can certainly act as a support for you and provide you with resources for local support groups or services. Please don't feel alone - a therapist should be like a friend, in that they are there for you emotionally and will always want the best for you.
And hey - maybe your dad could do with a massage himself to rid his brain of those toxic archetypal thought processes, so he'll welcome you with no judgement too.
Violence and Abuse against the LGBTQ+ Community
Around 75% of LGBTQ+ youth have reported experiencing discrimination, with high numbers of biased violence and hate targeted against them. If we know that children lack the self-awareness to realise the impact of their words and actions, then they must be learning their behaviours from adults in their lives.
Very young children do not typically discriminate or act out against other children based on their identities. It is only when they begin to mature into teenagerhood and learn ideas from their outside world that they can begin to act out and behave inappropriately. So perhaps if your child is bullying another student for identifying as LGBTQ+, then you may want to re-evaluate where their main source of information is coming from. Are they watching far right extremist news channels? Are they engaging with homophobic social media pages? Is anyone in your family actively homophobic, perhaps you?
Massage is the complete opposite of violence. I personally really enjoy martial arts and causing "acceptable" bodily harm, but I keep my anger in the boxing gym, so I can provide you with my unconditional love and care in the treatment room. Massage is gentle, tender and loving. Massage does not seek to hate, for the space can only be filled with good energy. Even if you come in with a whirlwind of rage on the brink of explosion, the dim lights and inviting warm sheets are sure to turn down your gas to a nice simmer.
Massage helps you regain your confidence, and empowers you to leave the house again. Violence and physical trauma does so much more damage than the initial blow - people can develop serious agoraphobia which can be so debilitating. You are able to get outside, it is possible to live a normal life in the world. I will never pressure you to leave your home, and I have a mobile setup just for that, but it is my wish for you to, in time, reclaim your inner strength and become yourself again.
Mental Health & Homelessness
LGBTQ+ youth greatly suffer mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, suicidal thoughts, and are more likely to experience homelessness or use illegal drugs. And it is hardly surprising when you think of what has been written prior to this paragraph.
The desire to use illicit drugs has always been part of a "rebellious" attitude - it is formed from societal and family pressures and expectations to "excel", when all a kid really wants to do is play and enjoy themselves. If the "best years of your life" are supposed to be your childhood, then why do so many parents keep messing up their children's best years?
As for homelessness, this tends to be a result of unaccepting families upon hearing their children's sexuality. With unacceptance and abandonment comes the negative feelings and toxic situations which lead to mental health conditions and disorders. Massage is intended as both a preventative tool for mental health and also as a "solution" (I can't technically call it that because then you might think it is a medical cure, but I honestly can't think of a better word, because it is a solution).
Massage is your support to help you find a way out of your negative situation, it is a healing tool to help you cope with the barriers that you are facing. Please don't feel afraid to call for help if you have no money - I currently offer all treatments for disabled folk free of charge in my therapy room (which also has an accessible toilet) and I am more than willing to offer the same for those who are facing homelessness or in recovery for addiction. Massage is supposed to be for your health benefit, with the aim of removing all barriers to accommodate all.
There are many more issues which face the LGBTQ+ community today, and these are only some of those reported in the UK. You can find out where I got my figures from in the links below. I like to count myself as an ally, but it is not up to me to decide that, and I only hope I can serve all people with respect and kindness when they walk into my space.
What do you think? How does massage affect you as a queer-identifying person? What would you like to change in society to help bring more acceptance and understanding? Please feel free to leave a comment!