LGBTQ couples

Why I Love LGBTQ Love

This year I'm celebrating 15 years supporting LGBTQ relationships professionally. It's been my joy to support hundreds of queer relationships through commitments, trust repair, communication struggles and more.

Y'all are pretty fabulous.

Here are ten things I love about LGBTQ love:

1. Because most of these folks have had to do a little reflection about how their love is different than most the folks in their life they're often more self-aware in partnership.


2. LGBTQ couples are far more likely to create balanced plans around their household responsibilities (this isn't just my expertise, this is a well-researched fact).


3. Children of LGBTQ couples do better in school, get more involved in their communities, and step into leadership more than others (this is researched, not just my opinion).


4. LGBTQ couples are far more jealousy-resilient for a large variety of reasons (again, there's plenty of research to back this up, beyond my experience).


5. More often than heterosexual couples these folks are willing to get creative sexually to get their needs met (again, this is well researched). 


6. More often than not these couples are willing to talk openly about their sexual needs (you know, and then they get them met) (again, this is well researched).


7. More often than other couples, LGBTQ partners are able to navigate open relationships with care.


8. LGBTQ folks are more likely to wait to marry/commit until they've explored some personally. This creates a possibility for more emotionally mature relationships.


9. More often than others, LGBTQ folks plan meaningful commitment ceremonies shaped around their unique core values (I just like these).


10. LGBTQ couples are more likely to use humor and humility in healthy ways in conflict (this is well-researched, not just my opinion).

Again, thank all of you who have shared your personal paths with me over the years. It's an honor to support your love.


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

Gina Senarighi LGBTQ Couples Counselor
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 

  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts

  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty

  • shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online. 

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Finding the Right Therapist for LGBTQ, Kinky, And/Or Poly Relationships

finding a poly therapist | Uncommon Love Counseling for Open Relationships

One of the most difficult issues many of my clients face is finding a mental health provider who truly understands their needs as a member of the LGBTQ and/or kink and/or poly community.  

All too often well-intended providers on well established referral sites click one easy button to list themselves as LGBT-friendly without training or exposure to our community.  

I've heard far too many horror stories of unfit professionals harming clients and friends with good intentions over the years.

So I’m writing today to list some of the specialized sites I use to find referrals so you might have an easier time finding someone who understands.

Finding a referral is the first step but it’s even more important you interview your provider to be sure they are a good and knowledgeable fit for your unique relationship before you start working together. 

Remember your therapist works for you not the other way around.  

This is your hour and your life, do not hand your trust over to just anyone. You deserve a provider worthy of your trust (and financial investment) and who can create a shame-free space for your to talk (or not talk) about these topics as appropriate.

I’ve listed a few suggested interview questions under each topic below.  If you have additional interview question suggestions please leave them in the comments section I would LOVE to add them!

Finding a provider you trust is imperative to the success of your coaching or counseling relationship.   I am happy to help you find a provider in your area if you need help.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me for assistance.  If you have a provider in mind you would like to add to the listings, please add their information in the comments section to share with others!

Sex Positive, Kink, Fetish, and BDSM Therapists

Questions to ask your potential therapist or coach:

1.  Please describe your previous work with BDSM, kinky or fetish communities and clients.

2.  What does sex-positive mean to you and how does it influence your work with clients?

3.  What kind of training have you received on sex-positive, kinky, or fetish communities?

4.  What makes working with sex-positive clients unique?

Sex-PositiveTherapist Referral Listings:

Kink Aware Professionals is provided by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and is a resource for people who are seeking psychotherapeutic, medical, and legal professionals who are informed about the diversity of consensual, adult sexuality.

Fet Life is a social media site for the BDSM, kinky, and fetish community (think facebook for kinksters).  There are some therapists who list on this site and there are groups where you can ask for community member referrals in your area.

Polyamory, Non-Monogamy and Open Relationships Counseling

Questions to ask your potential therapist or coach:

1.  Please describe your previous work with polyamorous clients or open relationships.*

*I recommend asking specifically about your specific relationship style if possible, open, swinging, polyamorous, non-monogamous etc.  As you know we are a beautifully diverse community with unique needs- be sure your provider knows how to help YOU.*

2.  What kind of training have you received on open relationships and non-monogamy?

3.  What makes working with polyamorous clients and couples unique?

Poly Therapists Referral Listings:

Poly-Friendly Professionals is a list of professionals who have identified themselves as being, open-minded about polyamory and polyamorous issues.

Opening Up List based on the excellent book Opening Up (on open relationships) by Tristan Taormino, a listing of professionals worldwide.

LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning) Counselors

Questions to ask your potential therapist or coach:

1.  Please describe your previous work with LGBTQ communities and clients.*

*I recommend asking specifically about your specific identity group, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer etc.  As you know we are a beautifully diverse community with unique needs- be sure your provider knows how to help YOU.*

2.  What uniquely qualifies you to work with lesbian, gay, and/or bisexual clients?

3.  What kind of training have you received on transgender, gender variant, or genderqueer populations?

4.  What makes working with gender variant or sexual minority clients unique?

LGBT Therapist Referral Listings:

Q Center Resources (this link is for Portland, OR to find a LGBT Community Center near you click here)

Portland State University Queer Resource Center (this center will likely have referrals only in the Pacific Northwest, to find a LGBTQ campus resource center near you click here)

Bisexually Aware Providers the professionals who have chosen to list themselves in this directory have all stated to the directory coordinator that they meet criteria for bisexuality-awareness.

Queer Health Care Referrals (North America)  This is a facebook group of queer and ally identified individuals referring based on personal experiences with healthcare providers.

Informed Consent for Access to Trans Health Care  Not a provider directory, but a great resource for transgender individuals seeking mental health care.

Finding a provider you trust is imperative to the success of your counseling relationship.  

I truly am happy to help you find a provider in your area who respects and affirms your lifestyle and is knowledgeable about your identity.  Contact me here if you would like help.


Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

How to Tell Your Homophobic Relatives They're Not Invited to Your Wedding

Your big day is coming and it’s going to be the beautiful, exciting, emotional, dream commitment ceremony you have wanted since you were a little kid crushed on a camp counselor and dreaming of long term committed same-sex love.

Nontraditional, unconventional, queer, LGBT, polyamorous and kinky weddings are my favorites because we are up against so many invalidating messages about our love.  It is uniquely beautiful to see two people choose to validate their commitments on their own terms.

 

There’s just that one thing: your family.  Your mom wanted you to invite your aunt, but you have seen the hateful homophobic and transphobic stuff she posts on facebook.  Imagining what she’ll be like in the same room with your beautiful drag queen friends makes your stomach flip.

You think about your grandpa, and how he stopped talking to you after you brought your sweetheart home for the holidays two years ago.  He’s been distant ever since.  Will that be a downer on your special day?

And then there’s your cousins, you never really came out to them.  Is it weird to come out in a wedding invitation?

Despite all the advice you are going to get, there is no one right or wrong way to decide who should or shouldn’t be there.  No matter what you do, there will always be another possibility to entertain.  The one thing you can be sure of, is that you are doing the right thing for you.

What will make you most comfortable that day?  

What decision will you feel best about one year from now?

Give some thought to each of these relationships.  You don’t have to respond the same way to every one of your relatives.  Choose the path of greatest integrity in each scenario.  Every time you reach a conflict you have five options on how to address it.

Here are some options to consider based on the Five Conflict Management Styles according to Thomas, K.W., and R.H. Kilmann:

Conflict Style 1: Accommodating: This is when you cooperate to a high-degree, and it may be at your own expense, and actually work against your own goals, objectives, and desired outcomes.  This approach is effective when the other party is the expert or has a better solution.  It can also be effective for preserving future relations with the other party.

In your wedding scenario: This means you just invite them.  Your mom is happy to have everyone in one place, and they have the option to say no.  If you choose this option you may want to create support structures for yourself, your partner, and your friends to help buffer them from  homophobic stuff.  Maybe you have a special gathering for just your queer friends, or ask a friend to act as a bigot bouncer at the actual event.  If you choose to go this route, come up with plans to support your celebration so you don’t have to put up with junk you don’t want on your day.

Conflict Style 2: Avoiding:  This is when you simply avoid the issue.  You aren’t helping the other party reach their goals, and you aren’t assertively pursuing your own.  This works when the issue is less meaningfulor when you have no chance of winning.   It can also be effective when the issue would be very costly.  It’s also very effective when the atmosphere is emotionally charged and you need to create some space. Sometimes issues will resolve themselves, but “hope is not a strategy”, and, in general, avoiding is not a good long term strategy.

In your wedding scenario: This means you just don’t invite them.  Your mom may be disappointed (and they might too) but you avoid the issue of having conversations before the day, and or trying to overcome your emotions (and their possible outbursts) on your wedding day.  It is especially helpful if you have family members who are particularly volatile or unsafe in their actions.  Think about the person who just can’t control themselves from saying something rude during your special moments.  If and when physical safety is a concern this is definitely the best route to choose.

You have permission not to invite anyone who will just plain make you uncomfortable.  Remember it is YOUR DAY, YOUR PARTY, YOUR MEMORIES and you have every right to stick to what will being you greatest happiness.  A lot of well-intentioned allies will try to help you just “get over it”, and may even guilt you about your lack of compassion. No matter what they (or I) say only you get to decide what is right for your day.

Conflict Style 3: Competing : This is the “win-lose” approach.  You act in a very assertive way to achieve your goals, without seeking to cooperate with the other party, and it may be at the expense of the other party.  This approach may be appropriate for emergencies when time is of the essence, or when you need quick, decisive action, and people are aware of and support the approach.

In your wedding scenario: You have been practicing setting clear boundaries and stating your expectations with compassion for years, here is a big opportunity to put that practice into action.  Maybe you send them an invite with a letter stating exactly what you expect for their behavior.  Maybe you call them when you receive their RSVP and give them behaviorally specific examples of how you want them to show their support.  Let them know clearly, and with respect, exactly what you want from them on this day, and if they can’t participate and demonstrate support for your partnership they can show they care by staying home.  Or, maybe you don’t invite them and you send them a specific letter addressing why you aren’t including them with compassion, care, and respect.

 

Conflict Style 4: Collaborating: This is where you partner or pair up with the other party to achieve both of your goals.  This is how you break free of the “win-lose” paradigm and seek the “win-win.”  This can be effective for complex scenarios where you need to find a novel solution.  This can also mean re-framing the challenge to create a bigger space and room for everybody’s ideas.  The downside is that it requires a high-degree of trust and reaching a consensus can require a lot of time and effort to get everybody on board and to synthesize all the ideas.

Conflict Style 5: Compromising: This is the “lose-lose” scenario where neither party really achieves what they want.  This requires a moderate level of assertiveness and cooperation.  It may be appropriate for scenarios where you need a temporary solution, or where both sides have equally important goals.   The trap is to fall into compromising as an easy way out, when collaborating would produce a better solution.

These two conflict styles may overlap in your wedding scenario.  They require more work (in conversation) but can create even stronger more satisfying outcomes.  You have to decide, are these relationships you want to invest in?  Are the other parties willing to meet you somewhere in the middle?

In your wedding scenario: These conflict styles will likely mean these folks come to your ceremony or celebration.  However, they also mean they are coming with an understanding of what you want, hope for, and expect.  And when they arrive you will have a clear understanding of how they can either meet those needs or not.  Either way, you will have had a conversation and may have laid a welcome mat for more communication in years to come.

Remember, only you get to decide what is right for your day.  Consider what will make you most comfortable at your commitment ceremony and in years to come.  Act with integrity and compassion and you won’t regret your choices. 


poly counseling | online relationship help | professional counselor

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a polyamory consultant, sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

11 Vows For Non-Traditional Weddings

 Nontraditional Weddings are Beautiful

Every year I am blessed with the opportunity to perform weddings as an officiant.  With the recent changes in the legal definition of marriage and more and more couples redefining with marriage and commitment mean to them I have had more exciting offers to join families for these beautiful occasions.

However, so many of my wonderful unique, nontraditional, feminist, or queer coupleshave difficulty coming up with a ceremony that really works for them.  So many parts of this tradition are linked to beliefs and rules that just don’t fit every loving couple.

In order to help you get started planning your big day (or weekend, or whatever) I want to share some of the vows couples have used in my ceremonies to give you ideas for your own.  Congratulations on wanting to commit to a shared life.

For more non-religious non-traditional vow ideas click here

 

Share the vows from your nontraditional ceremony in the comments- I would love to read more! 

I choose you to be my partner, my love-equal, and mirror for my True Self.  Be my partner on this path.  I will honor you and cherish you in rain and sunshine till death do us part.

Sweetheart, with all my love, I take you to be my life partner, best friend, and constant companion. I will love you through good and the bad, through joy and the sorrow. I will try to be understanding, and to trust in you completely. Together we will face all of life’s experiences and share one another’s dreams and goals. I promise I will be your equal partner in a loving, honest relationship, for as long as we both shall live. 

When you need someone to encourage you, I am there. When you need help, I am there. When you long for someone to smile with, smile with me. When you have something to share, share it with me.

I vow to always keep my love as pure as it is today. I promise to be there for you in your laughter and your tears, in your sickness and your health, in your comfort and your fears. I promise to be there for you for all your life, come what may.

My love from this day forward I promise you, I will laugh with you in times of joy and comfort you in times of sorrow. I will share in your dreams, and support you as you strive to achieve your goals. I will listen to you with compassion and understanding, and speak to you with encouragement. I will remain faithful to our vows for better or for worse, in times of sickness and health. I will love and respect you always.

 I promise you to laugh more than we cry.  To comfort, encourage listen, and hug.  I promise to love you in sunshine and rain for the rest of my days.  I am grateful for every moment I am fortunate to spend with you.

 I promise to encourage us to try new and unusual things.  I vow to invest in loving you daily and to snuggle you as often as possible.  I vow to be the best parts of me that fit perfectly with the best parts of you.  Although I will be imperfect, I pledge to be sensitive and respectful of your unique talents, abilities and quirks.  I pledge to lend you strength for all of your dreams. Through our union we can accomplish more than I could alone.  I believe in you.

Today I join myself to you before this company to share our love with the world. May our days be long, and may they be seasoned with love, understanding and respect.  I choose you to embark upon this great journey of marriage with me.  I am stronger with you than alone. 

From this moment, I take you, as my companion for life. I pledge to honor, encourage, and support you on this long walk together. When our way becomes difficult, I promise to stand by you and uplift you, so that through our union we can accomplish more than we could alone. I promise to work at our love and always make you a priority in my life. With every beat of my heart, I will love you. This is my solemn vow.

My love, our miracle lies in the path we have chosen together. I enter this partnership knowing that the true magic of love is not to avoid change, but to navigate it successfully.Let us commit to the miracle of making each day work – together.

I take you to be my my spouse, my partner, my friend, my confidant, my soul mate.  Our love may be like the ebb and tide of the ocean, but it will always flow. I will be true and loyal, and cherish you for all the days of our lives.  I promise to love, honor, and offer. I promise to be good, giving, and game in all aspects of our lives.  I love you forever. I pledge my all to you.

Please feel free to edit these as you see fit!  They are just a starting point.  Again, congratulations on your celebration of love!


Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a polyamory consultant, sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).