I started flirting with her prior to really knowing she was attracted to women.

I started flirting with her prior to really knowing she was attracted to women.

This couple met while working as mental health clinician interns at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. This interview took place at Ignatius Café in Los Angeles, CA. Over the course of the interview, they share the cute details of their self proclaimed awkward first date. A date many can relate to when they are unsure of the sexual orientation of the person they are attracted to. The couple also shares their experience working with domestic violence patients as well as supporting mentally ill patients. Read and listen to learn more! 

Part I - The Awkward First Date

Our first date was on Halloween.

We were the only people left at the office on Halloween night. It was very awkward and very uncomfortable because we knew we both liked each other. It was the first time that we actually sat next to each other when we knew that there was something else we were feeling.

As a mental health clinician, I couldn't ask if she was gay, straight, or bi.

I was sitting in front of the computer and she was right there next to me looking at her computer. I asked her questions while I looked at the computer. “Umm, so are you gay?” I asked.  But I wasn’t even looking at her. And she replied, “Uh, no.” I said, “So what, you’re straight?” And she was like “Nope.” Still not looking directly at her, I asked, “So, are you bi?”. And she said “I guess you can say that.” Then we went silent for like five minutes.

I really asked the wrong questions. I then asked her if she liked music. She replied, “Uh, yeah, I like music.” In the back of my head I’m thinking that she doesn’t like music because that’s what people usually say when they don’t like music.

She said she was hungry, so I told her we could go downstairs to my office because I had protein bars. She followed me, and I give her a protein bar. A year later, I ended up giving her the same protein bar and she told me she hated it.

She said it tasted like cardboard, but I could ask her any question, or offer her any food, and she'd love it. I think it was a really funny and interesting night because you don’t usually ask people if they are gay, straight, or bi. You kind of just want to wait.  As a mental health clinician, you want to just wait until somebody tells you what their orientation is.

The question still surprises me today because I’ve never really identified with a sexuality. On our first date, I definitely wanted her to know that I was attracted to her because she had a shot. It is not always that appropriate to ask people their orientation. It’s so personal.


Part II - On issues facing the LGBTQI community & services provided by the LA LGBT Center

Domestic violence in the LGBTQI community is prevalent, but underreported – and not taken seriously – especially in gay men.

People can make a lot of assumptions on who the victim is and who the perpetrator is, and it’s sometimes opposite what you would think. I think it’s very important for the LGBTQI community to support one another in that aspect because we’re so afraid of speaking up, because we’re so oppressed as people.  

I’ve mostly seen is that some gay men don’t tend to report domestic violence.

When they do, a lot of the police officers will turn it down and say, “Well, you’re two men. You know. You just fight. That’s does not count as domestic violence.” There’s gender inequality, sexual orientation inequality, and blatant ignorance among police officers.  I think it’s very important not to be afraid of reporting an incident. When we undermine the effects of domestic violence and trauma in our lives, it causes a tremendous amount of mental illness.

I think the center does a great job with their family violence intervention services.

There are highly competent professionals individuals who run groups for perpetrators, victims, and secondary aggressors. As a mental health clinician, one of the things I’ve always loved about the center is they do a very thorough initial intake assessment - which other sites don’t seem to do as often. If a couple comes in, they separate the couple and ask certain questions regarding violence. I think the center does a good job of digging in and finding these situations that are really hard for people to come out and just say or recognize as violence.

I think a lot of people are not aware of the different types of violence.

The Center provides really great services for the physical, the emotional, the psychological, and the environmental piece of violence that could show up in couples, or even in our community.. We’re court approved as well, to treat batterers who need to complete court mandates.

We don’t provide family therapy, but we provide individual, and couples therapy. We have a number of psychotherapy groups, which consist of addiction groups, domestic violence groups, healthy relationships groups, trans men and women groups, trauma groups. We have yoga classes. We have nutrition classes that actually provide money to you. It’s an incentive class, so if you go, they’ll give you a gift card so you can buy groceries.

It’s really great working here because if you see a patient, and look at what’s causing them distress, you can be able to refer them over to different services in the building for psychosocial support like housing, food, diet, nutrition, yoga.

 

 

I didn’t find my story particularly interesting until having spoken it aloud.

I didn’t find my story particularly interesting until having spoken it aloud.

Sharing our story opened our eyes to realize that we can inspire others in ways we never thought we would.

Sharing our story opened our eyes to realize that we can inspire others in ways we never thought we would.