Radio is a way that we can reach out to people who might not be connected to the LGBT community in any other way.
Recently I gave a speech at Warwickshire Pride, and shared about myself, something therapists are usually discouraged from doing. It is a delicate balance, for counselling to work we need to create a space onto which the person coming to therapy can project what they need. I may be (metaphorically) mother, lover, teacher, parent, adversary, protector in different moments. This is only possible if I am not projecting too much of myself. However, I am also a human, with a life full of experiences which I believe make me a better therapist. How we balance these competing needs is not always easy, but then, important things rarely are.
So, if I share, as I did in that speech, that when I was 15 I used to pray each night for God to make me straight, from a place of self hate, and despair, I know I am running a risk. Some people will struggle with the idea of their therapist not appearing in the world fully formed with all the answers, others will not want to know that I too had black dog moments. For some knowing anything about their therapist is too much. However, it is I believe a risk I need to take, because, there are still so many out there fighting the same battles, feeling the same pain. If we are to say “It gets better” it needs to be from a place of knowing what worse feels like.
Which brings me to another new project which I feel will be hugely important. Part of my pain as a teenager was feeling so alone. Newcastle had no LGBTQ groups, and even if they did as officially The Worlds Worst Lesbian (TM) I was unsure they would accept me. I did not even hear the word bisexual until I was 17, growing up as I did in a small rural community.
When we believe we are alone we can get lost in the loneliness, often this is when choices are made that lead to harmful outcomes. So many queer youth desperate to simply not feel so isolated are easy targets for predators and abusers, who use the promise of love and acceptance to manipulate and control. (Of course this is not limited just to queer young people, but it has it’s own narrative which is well known, if little discussed.)
As a therapist I can write, blog, give workshops, but there is always an element of reaching those who have already started their journey, reached out, even if it is just by googling. Musing on this has always brought me back to radio, that voice in the darkness, the space, still where people can hear themselves, even if they are not ready yet to speak. I have had a vision of a radio show where GRSD people could anonymously ask questions about the issues which were troubling them for some time. Perhaps at the back of my head was that frightened 15 year old, who thought they were so alone.
With nothing more than a vision, and the belief that “shy bairns get nowt” I approached Pride Radio. I have to confess I was unsure what their response would be, That it was complete agreement, and enthusiasm was a wonderful moment. I am not, of course a radio presenter, so Johnathan Morrell agreeing to put The Radio-therapist (bad pun completely intended) as part of his show was even more heartening. We have been going out each Friday at 11;30 on Pride FM, the new community radio station. So far we have discussed issues including, alcohol abuse, affection in public, coming out at work , ageism in the gay community and pride events. Each week I know that this is a way to reach beyond the usual “therapeutic” bubble and into peoples lives, perhaps the people who most need to hear it.
I am incredibly excited about this project, and hope it will continue to grow. If you have a question, or topic suggestion please get in touch, you can do so anonymously if you wish or contact Pride Radio here if you would prefer. Sometimes all we need to know is that others have felt what we feel, thought what we think, struggled as we are struggling. The voice in the darkness tells us, you are not alone.