Monday, November 28, 2011

Psychology Today

In my last post I mentioned that I wouldn't be writing for the rest of November, and that was the plan.  Plans change.  Furthermore, I rarely promote things on this blog and when I do it is with good reason.
I recently received an e-mail from a very nice woman researching the psychological interactions of coming-out, family and religion (that is my description, I'm including her terminology below).  She asked me to participate in her study and/or to pass on her information to other possible candidates.  I agreed to participate and delayed deciding about promoting the study until after I experienced it first hand.  Having now taken part in the study, I wholeheartedly endorse participation.  

To quote Principal Investigator (the woman conducting the research), Ms. Chana Etengoff, she:
"is currently recruiting participants for a study focusing on gay individuals’ (ages 18-35) and their key religious family members’ thoughts regarding religion and sexual identity. Participants will be asked to answer questions that address this experience at both the family systems and individual level.
This semi-structured interview is comprised of 17 questions and it is estimated that the interview will be completed in a half of an hour to 45 minutes. In addition, three vignettes (stories) will be presented for response regarding socio-religious obstacles regarding being religious and having a gay family member. The estimated time of completion for this portion of the study is 30 minutes to one hour."

Two notes:  1) From my understanding, the research is primarily focusing on men.    2) Its not required for participation, but it is a plus if you have a family member who would also be willing to participate. 

If you are interested in participating, e-mail Ms. Etengoff at .  
Feel free to e-mail me about my experience in the study if you have any questions or hesitations about participating.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Key

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  I don’t have time for a lengthy post. However, November marks the 1 year anniversary of this project and I feel that I must leave you with some thoughts.

As a teenager coming out and braving an unknown world I thought I was in love.   His name is Scott, he isn’t Jewish and until today he remains one of the most influential people I have ever interacted with.   I haven’t spoken to him in over half a decade.   We only met in person once after communicating online for a while (this occurred during the pre-Gchat days of myspace and AOL instant messaging).  What made our evening, which was not a date, so powerful was how calm and reassured he made me feel. 

I was a scared, hormonal teenager with an uncertain future.  I alienated my Jewish friends, was on bad terms with my parents and did not have anyone to counsel me or offer me guidance or advice.  He did all that.  We met in a coffee shop, chatted for a while and then went to a concert.  We spoke about my depression, religion and art.  Scott told me that with a positive attitude I could do anything.   I believed him and to this day his words of wisdom guide me through the most challenging of days.  At the end of the evening he gave me a ride home and I have not seen him since. 

This brings me to the following point: how can you support a friend, or a practical stranger, who is struggling with their sexuality?  By being yourself.  By recognizing their challenge and meeting it with a calm, unfaltering sense of warmth that does not place them into the category of “other.”  With a positive attitude you can do anything.   If you allow that positivity to permeate the conversation you have with your friend you will reassure them as I was reassured.

Happy Anniversary.

*minor grammatical edit at 16:30 on 17-11-11.