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A hookup isn’t worth your life in COVID era

Find other ways to pass the time in quarantine



Holding my infant son to soothe him at 3 a.m. today, I thought about how important the touch of another human is. It helps us feel safe and loved and cared about and connected. And not just when we’re teeny. The feel of my son’s chest rising and falling with his breath soothed me as well, in this grim time.

No wonder this social isolation feels so terrible. Without touch, we really feel alone.

Of course, once we’re past a certain age, sex enters the picture as a form of touch that has the power to make us feel amazing in all sorts of ways. Having sex gives many of us the feeling that we’re attractive, desired, even valuable. And those feelings are pretty awesome.

While this is true for people of all genders and sexual orientations, I often hear from my gay male therapy clients in particular how important sex is to their identity. This makes sense. We’re a group that is defined by and organized largely around our erotic and affectional preference. Much of gay culture encourages the message that to be a successful gay man, we should be sexually desirable, open to sex, and have frequent conquests. I’d also posit that many gay men have grown up feeling defective because of their sexual attractions. Sex and its companion feeling of being desired can soothe this wound.

So my heart has been going out to some of my gay male therapy clients this week as I listen to their descriptions of how they’re struggling not to have sex in the current coronavirus situation. “I have to keep hooking up or I won’t feel good about myself,” one man told me. “I’ve had sex a few times this past week, but only with guys I know and they didn’t have any symptoms,” said another. “Hooking up is what I do for fun,” said a third. “I don’t know what else to do in my free time.”

Well, now is the time to learn. It is not worth impairing our health or losing our lives for sex.

Taking a risk with your health is not actually a route to feeling good about yourself or improving self-esteem. Sadly, it is likely to reinforce the belief that you aren’t worth much.

What to do instead? It is for each of us to discover what else we care about, to look for what intrinsic value we have other than our attractiveness as sexual partners, to find additional ways to connect with others and to respect ourselves.

And just as we have had to struggle against the larger society telling us who we should be and how we should act, some of us may want to challenge ourselves to transcend the expectation that as gay men we “should” always be interested in and ready for a hookup.

Expectations and shoulds can be restrictive. When we decide for ourselves how we want to behave, we have a lot more power over our own lives.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m certainly not “sex-negative.” I’m just concerned that many of us are now putting our lives at risk to keep hooking up.

My bottom line: This awful crisis is giving us an opportunity to keep our pants zipped and discover some other ways of taking care of ourselves that don’t endanger our health and our lives. And when we behave in ways that are respectful of ourselves, our self-respect increases.

Hoping all of us get through this!


Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay individuals and couples. Reach him via



Ask Pastor Brandan

For those in the LGBTQ+ community who have questions about their faith, life, & the intersection of religion in their daily lives



Photo Credit: Rev. Brandan Robertson

The Los Angeles Blade is pleased to introduce a new bi-weekly column for members of the LGBTQ+ community who have questions about their faith, life, and the intersection of religion with sexual orientation or gender identity in their daily lives.

From [email protected]:

“Pride Month is a time of celebration, but I often feel conflicted because of my religious upbringing. How can I fully embrace and celebrate Pride while honoring my faith?”- Caroline, Redding, CA 

So many queer people live in the tension between having pride in the queer identity and dealing with the shame they inherited from a religious upbringing- this is true even for many queer people who are no longer religious! Religious trauma from toxic religious doctrine or rejection from our churches or families is very real for many queer people, and can negatively impact our mental health and our overall wellbeing for a long time.

Even as a Pastor, I seen my therapist weekly and a large amount of what we spend time unpacking is how religious experiences and beliefs I no longer hold to continue to cause me anxiety, fear, and shame. So first, know that you’re not alone. A lot of us experience this sense of inner conflict, even after being out for years! 

During Pride month, you will inevitably come across a religious person on social media saying “Pride is a sin!”- but they’re being disingenuous. It’s true, the Bible does call pride- or arrogance- a sin. But there is another kind of pride, one rooted in a deep sense of gratitude- the pride that these same Christians will quickly embrace when they sing “I’m proud to be an American!”

That second kind of pride is what we’re embracing at in Queer Pride celebrations. It’s gratitude to our queer forerunners for fighting to help us live and love more freely. It is gratitude to our queer family for the love, support, and endless contributions we make to the world. And for many of us, it is gratitude to God, who made us queerly beloved and delights in us just as we are. This is what Pride, at its core, is supposed to be. 

On top of the celebration, Pride is also, of course, a continuation of the resistance movement started at Stonewall, a recognition that queer folks are still marginalized and threatened in the US and around the world, and it’s a commitment to continue the fight for equality, dignity, and justice for all queer folks.

For me, channeling the wide array of emotions I feel because of the toxic religious teachings I grew up with towards activism and advocacy has been a healing path for me- so perhaps when you feel inner conflict around Pride, channel that towards speaking up and acting up for your fellow queer siblings. Turn that inner conflict towards speaking words of truth- that queer people are made in the image and likeness of God and are just as worthy of life and love as every other person in the world.

Don’t allow your inner conflictedness to bog you down in shame during this season- allow it to motivate you to celebrate harder, advocate more fiercely, and enjoy this sacred month. Happy Pride! 

“I was taught that sex outside of marriage is a sin, but as a queer person, marriage hasn’t always been an option. How can I understand my sexual ethics in a way that aligns with both my faith and my identity?” – Shane, New York, NY 

Hey Shane- thanks for this question. You want to know what’s crazy- there is not a single verse in the Bible that says premarital sex is a sin. In a few places, some translations of the New Testament render the Greek word porneia as “fornication”, which does mean premarital sex, but virtually no Greek scholar believes that is an accurate translation of that word.

Instead, what the Bible actually condemns is excessive sexuality- meaning allowing our sexual desire to control us. This is a sexual ethic that I think all people should embrace- being in control of and mindful about how you engage your sexuality, rather than using it as a compulsive behavior or as a means of escaping or numbing ourselves.

One of my favorite Scriptures that guides my own ethics comes from Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:12 when he writes “All things are permissible, but not everything is beneficial”. In other words, this ethic is based not on a rigid sense of rules, but on considering what is beneficial- healthy, and good- for us.

Whenever I think about my own sexual behavior, I try to ask myself both why am I doing this and if this is beneficial to me. If I can be mindful about my intentions, knowing that I am entering into a sexual experience consensually, joyfully, healthily, and with clarity of mind, then I can’t see why I would consider it sinful or wrong.

There is no one-size fits all sexual ethic that is prescribed by the Bible, so by asking this question each of us can discern what is a beneficial and healthy sexual practice for us. The only thing the Bible is concerned with is that we maintain self-control and that our actions are always loving towards God, neighbor, and self. I hope this helps!

If you have a question you’d like Pastor Brandan to answer please send it to:

[email protected]


Rev. Brandan Robertson is a noted author, activist, and pastor based in New York City. Known as the “TikTok Pastor,” he engages over 220k followers and 5.5 million views with his inclusive theological content. Robertson has authored, edited, or contributed to 23 books and his writings have appeared in esteemed publications like TIME Magazine and The Washington Post. He holds degrees from Moody Bible Institute, Iliff School of Theology, and Eastern Illinois University, and is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Studies at Drew University.

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The Los Angeles Blade introduces ‘Ask Pastor Brandan’

For those in the LGBTQ+ community who have questions about their faith, life, & the intersection of religion in their daily lives



Photo Credit: Rev. Brandan Robertson

The Los Angeles Blade is pleased to introduce a new bi-weekly column for members of the LGBTQ+ community who have questions about their faith, life, and the intersection of religion with sexual orientation or gender identity in their daily lives.

From [email protected]:

I grew up in the church, and it was a really meaningful experience for me. But once I came out as gay, I saw Christianity’s true colors- no one acted like Jesus, they only condemned and rejected me for who I loved. Why would any gay person want to be a part of such a hypocritical religion that has no room for us? – Jace, Philadelphia, PA 


Jace, thanks so much for your question. First, let me say- I get it. While I am a Christian pastor, I have often found myself asking why I keep showing up to participate in a religion that has done so much harm to me personally as a queer person and to so many in my community.

There have been periods on my journey where I have all but walked away from the church- and those periods have been really healing for me. No one needs to participate in organized religion to have a meaningful life. But for me, I’ve always been drawn back because of a sneaking suspicion that the Christians with the loudest megaphones and the most power don’t actually represent the radical, social and spiritual movement that Jesus began.

The more I’ve studied the Bible and the Christian tradition through the ages, the more I’ve realized that the modern Christian establishment is a distortion of the faith of Jesus and of many millions of Christians throughout the ages. I’ve spent nearly a decade studying the Bible in academic settings and have been blown away by how much of what is preached as “clear” truth- like that being gay is condemned as a sin in Scripture- is far from the truth. There’s not a single verse in all of the Bible that says anything about homosexuality, but rather six verses that are condemning a common ancient form of sexual exploitation between men of high status and men of lower status.

Isn’t it strange that the modern Church has interpreted these verses to condemn loving, consensual same-sex relationships while turning a blind eye to the exploitation that high status men have been enacting towards lower status folks in their own churches? I also discovered that there is a ton of queer stuff in the Bible- there are men who fall in love with each other, women who commit their lives to one another, boys who dress in women’s clothes, and gender-queer individuals who are welcomed with joy into the early church. That’s all really in our Bible. 

When I started to realize this ignorance and hypocrisy, I personally felt motivated to reclaim the faith of Jesus and the Bible for myself and my community. And when I started this work, I quickly discovered that there is a long lineage of queer people who have been queering Christianity for centuries.

I also discovered that there have been other traditions- like the liberationist, womanist, and feminist traditions- that have reclaimed the Christian faith as a source of inspiration for their own spirituality and fight for a more just and equal world. But the largest institutions of Christianity have consistently marginalized these traditions and voices, which is why most people don’t know about them and just assume that Christianity is inherently corrupt. (Which again, is a reasonable assessment based on what is seen publicly!)

So I’ve made it my work to not only reclaim this faith as a queer person, but to work publicly to expose the distorted version of the faith that is being perpetuated and shine a light on the millions of progressive, inclusive, justice-oriented Christian communities that exist around the world.

I do this work not because I think that queer people need Christianity, but because I have met thousands of us who still feel a deep connection to our faith and have a right to claim it as our own. No one- be it a pope, a bishop, a denominational president, or a local pastor- has the authority to tell us we cannot and do not belong. And there is space for us- most people don’t realize that a majority of mainline Christian denominations in the U.S. are fully affirming of queer people today- so while the largest and loudest churches may spew toxic queerphobia, across every state in our nation there are hundreds of inclusive churches that welcome queer people to come just as we are.

I also think it is vitally important for progressive Christians to make our voices louder in society, taking some of the power and authority away from the queerphobic Christians who are just assumed to be the ones with the authority to speak for “true Christianity”.

When we simply write off Christianity- or any religion- as inherently queerphobic, we are consigning millions of queer people around the world to suffering, because in every corner of the globe there are governments enacting policies, justified by their queerphobic religious beliefs, that criminalize or discriminate against queer people.

One way that we can help to combat this is to show that there are other ways to be Christian- ways that are rooted in a good reading of the Biblical text and that take seriously the teachings of Jesus- that affirm queer people’s lives and love. Because the truth is that Christianity isn’t going away any time soon, so it’s vital that the queerphobic versions of it are countered with a progressive, inclusive faith. 

So Jace, all of this is to say that if the Christian faith (or any religion) is a source of trauma and harm for any queer person, I say leave it behind. But if you feel drawn to faith but feel like there’s no space for you, know that there has always been a faithful strain of Christianity that has been committed to inclusion, reformation, and justice, and there are likely communities near you that will welcome and affirm you as a queer person if you’d like to be a part of them. (I recommend using to find these communities!)

At the end of the day, I’ve come to know, deep in my bones, that queer people are loved by God and that we have so much to offer the Church and the world, and I pray that more and more people will wake up to see that! Thank you for your question!

If you have a question you’d like Pastor Brandan to answer please send it to:

[email protected]


Rev. Brandan Robertson is a noted author, activist, and pastor based in New York City. Known as the “TikTok Pastor,” he engages over 220k followers and 5.5 million views with his inclusive theological content. Robertson has authored, edited, or contributed to 23 books and his writings have appeared in esteemed publications like TIME Magazine and The Washington Post. He holds degrees from Moody Bible Institute, Iliff School of Theology, and Eastern Illinois University, and is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Studies at Drew University.

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After 16 years together, my wife suddenly wants children

‘I don’t want to be stuck in restrictive heteronormativity’



(Photo by Nyul/Bigstock)

Dear Michael,

A few months ago you answered a letter from a guy who wanted a baby but his boyfriend didn’t. I’m in the opposite situation. Carol and I have been together for 16 years (we’re married) and all of a sudden she wants to have a baby. This was never on the table until her dad died last year suddenly of a heart attack.  

Since then she’s been a different person. She tells me that she wants to focus on something “bigger” than just enjoying life and also wants some sort of sense that “life will go on.”

To me, being queer has always meant that we get to fully live life in the present, for us.  We don’t have to focus on having kids and all that entails: fertility stuff, sleep deprivation, diapers, babysitters, PTA obligations, college tuition, etc. Let straight people deal with those headaches while I enjoy myself. 

I don’t want to be stuck in restrictive heteronormativity, giving my time and energy to a kid who’s going to go from crying to whining to tantrums to rebellion to not talking to me. And then expect me to pay their bills after they’re 18.  

And why crowd the planet even more? In my opinion, having a baby on this planet is selfish sentimentality.

Carol and I always saw 100 percent eye-to-eye on this issue but now she’s gone over to the other side. I have shared all of the above to shake some sense into her but haven’t gotten anywhere. This was not our agreement at all.

I know you can’t change someone else, but doesn’t she owe our relationship a commitment to the life we already agreed on? I’ve suggested grief counseling but she says no.

Michael replies:

No one owes their partner a commitment to not change. It’s a guarantee that we all change over time. Relationships challenge us to stay with someone as we both evolve in big and sometimes unexpected ways over the years. There’s no way around this challenge if you want to stay happily married. 

It’s also true that you don’t have to keep living with someone who changes in ways you don’t want to accommodate. So, if Carol is certain that she wants to be a mom and if you are certain that you don’t, you can leave.

It makes sense that you’re sad and angry (putting it mildly) when your wife suddenly wants to completely upend your life. That said, you’re not going to improve your marriage by criticizing Carol or insulting her wish to parent. And if you pressure her to give up a deeply held wish, she will likely resent you.

Instead of these tactics, how about being curious regarding her desire to parent? What “bigger” meaning is she hoping to get from life? How does she think her father’s untimely death affected her, not just on this issue but possibly in other ways as well?

There’s great value in being curious about our partners’ differences rather than contemptuous or critical. That’s a path toward greater intimacy, in that we get to deeply understand the person we are spending our life with. While you may not stay with Carol, you still might want to have a close and caring relationship with the woman you’ve spent 16 years with. Understanding her better might also help you make some peace with her desire to parent.

I also want to encourage you to consider that there are many ways to be gay, lesbian, queer — to be just about anything. You could say it’s “heteronormative” to want to parent; but you could also view it as a common human (and non-human) desire that is unrelated to sexual orientation. Carol has different ideas for how she wants to live. This doesn’t mean that she is foolish.

I’m curious about why you have such an unrelentingly negative view about parenting and kids. Is it possible that you’ve had some tough experiences in your life that have shaped this view? 

I’m not pushing you to change your mind, but you might consider talking with some parents to get some sense of what parenting, and children, are actually like. 

You might open up your thinking, and your heart. You might decide you are willing to lean in Carol’s direction, or you might not. In any case, I’m hopeful that you would get a more balanced picture of what parenting and childhood can be. 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].

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Giving up drinking is killing our relationship

What happens when one partner is sober and the other isn’t



I’m a 38-year-old guy, was single for most of my 30s, which I didn’t like at all, and I finally met a great guy last Memorial Day Weekend. 

Until New Year’s I would have said that everything was going great. I was on Cloud Nine. Eric is kind, handsome, smart, and a great catch.

But in December he decided to do “Dry January.” It was kind of on a whim I think. We were out with some friends and one of them said he was not going to drink at all for the month of January. He thought alcohol was playing too big a role in his life so he wanted to see what life would be like without it. Another friend said he would do it too, and then Eric said he would.

I wish we hadn’t gone out that night and then this whole thing wouldn’t have happened.

So, as the month progressed, Eric started talking more and more about how much better he was feeling without alcohol in his body or his life.

I don’t think we drank that much pre-January. Yes, we’d have something to drink every time we went out, with friends or just together, but not to excess.

At some point, Eric started saying that he wasn’t really enjoying going out with our friends, as he wasn’t drinking and they were (except the two friends who were also doing the Dry January thing). This meant I’d either go out without him (which I didn’t like) or we’d stay home, or go out just the two of us. But then if I’m drinking and he’s not, it just feels awkward. He hasn’t said anything but I feel like he’s judging me whenever I have a drink.

I was hoping he’d relax about the whole thing at the end of the month but now he’s decided he doesn’t want to drink anymore at all.

To make matters worse, he says that the month made him think more about the big role alcohol plays in his life (his words) and he has started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

So where does this leave me? I do want to keep drinking. I’m just a social drinker and I don’t have a problem with alcohol. I think it adds a fair amount of fun to my life. Plus, all my friends drink (including the two who did Dry January) and it’s a big part of our socializing. If you don’t drink when everyone else is drinking, it’s really not fun and it feels weird.

At this point Eric doesn’t go out with the friend group we were going out with because he doesn’t have a good time as the only non-drinker. (I get it, that’s one of the reasons I drink when my friends are drinking.) So I go out sometimes without him, which as I mentioned doesn’t feel so good, and which I don’t think is great for our relationship; or I don’t go out with my friends, which I don’t like.

I love Eric and I could see us having a great life together but his not drinking has opened what feels like a chasm between us.

How do couples handle this situation, where one person wants to stop drinking and the other does not? The impact is seeming increasingly huge to me and I don’t see how to make it stop being a divisive problem.

Michael replies:

I don’t think that Eric’s sobriety needs to be a divisive problem, if you can tolerate that you don’t get to have your life with Eric be exactly as you would like. 

This is the same dilemma that everyone in a serious relationship must face. Our partners are always different from us in some important ways, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first. And we have to figure out how to live with these differences, contentedly for the most part.  Our partners face the same challenge. 

Of course, not every difference can be (or should be) resolvable. For example, if one person is determined to parent and the other person is determined to be child-free, it makes great sense to part ways — unless one person decides they’d rather stay with their partner than have it their way.  

You and Eric have to figure out if your differences around alcohol are a deal-breaker, or if you can find a way to build a solid relationship, even as you drink socially and he is sober.

Whether and how you do this are for the two of you to figure out.  That said, here are some ideas for your consideration: 

  • Can you accept Eric’s not joining you for some or even many of your social activities?
  • Can you and Eric talk about what might help him be more comfortable joining your friends now and then?
  • Can you ask Eric what it’s like for him when you are drinking, rather than assuming that he is judging you? (Important question for your consideration: What led you to make that assumption rather than asking him?)
  • If Eric is making friends in Alcoholics Anonymous, would you want to join him at times when he socializes with them? 

The main ingredients here are generosity, flexibility, collaboration, and curiosity.

Speaking of curiosity, rather than wishing that the two of you had missed that invitation to participate in Dry January, how about being curious about Eric’s decision to stop drinking? I suspect that your dismissiveness has a negative impact on his desire to be close to or confide in you. If you are curious about this important life change that Eric is undertaking, you will certainly learn a lot about your boyfriend, and likely deepen your connection.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].

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Tips for strengthening your relationship

On Valentine’s Day, recommit to tackling challenges together



This Valentine’s Day, take these steps to strengthen your relationship.

Working as a couples therapist, I’ve had many people tell me over the years how difficult they think it is to have a happy relationship. “The divorce rate is over 50%.” “It’s so much work.” “If it’s this hard, something must be wrong.”

Here’s some very good news: The high divorce rate and the number of failed relationships you see around you need have no impact on the success of your own relationship. 

While building and maintaining a healthy relationship takes effort, doing so is possible, and the ongoing challenge of finding creative and loving ways to handle tough challenges can actually be fun. 

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are my top suggestions for steps you can take to have a great relationship. 

Please keep in mind that while these steps are simple in concept, they are not always easy to practice. So don’t get discouraged. And remember that if you consistently work at doing your best in your relationship, doing so will likely get easier over time.

  • Strive to always have a sense of humor about how difficult relationships can be.  We’re all different in big ways, so of course it’s hard to share your life with someone at times. If you can keep this in mind instead of thinking “this should be easy,” you will actually have a much easier time navigating the challenges of being coupled. 
  • Avoid wanting to be “right.” By this, I mean both trying to prove to your partner that you are right, and simply maintaining the belief in your mind that you are right.  Wallowing in this belief gives you a sense of superiority, competition, and grievance, all of which are corrosive to your relationship. In addition, if there is a winner in the relationship, there is a loser, and that’s a terrible dynamic for a couple to have.
  • Aim to be generous: Be open to saying “yes” to your partner’s requests whenever possible; endeavor not to keep score on who has been more generous; and make it a priority to support your partner’s happiness. And at the same time:
  • Have a boundary when necessary. When you say “no,” do so from your integrity, not from scorekeeping or spite. This means understanding why something is important to your partner, while at the same time being clear that something different is even more important to you that requires saying “no” to your partner’s request.
  • Accept that disappointment is inevitable in every relationship. Because we are all different, we will at times see, understand, think, prioritize, and behave in ways that are very different from our partners, including on important matters.  Therefore, it’s inevitable that we will occasionally be gravely disappointed in our partners, just as they will be gravely disappointed in us. That’s life.  Accepting this truth can make it easier to bear. 
  • Advocate for what is important to you. Two caveats, though. First, you don’t want to weigh down the relationship with too many requests. Second, be prepared to not always get what you ask for. It is not your partner’s job to meet your every want.
  • Don’t wait for your partner to make the first move when you want something to happen. If both of you are waiting for the other person to go first, nothing will happen.  This includes (but is absolutely not limited to) apologies, initiating sex, planning vacations, and starting hard conversations.

On a related note:

  • Focus on what you can do to improve a situation, rather than on what your partner is doing, is not doing, or should be doing. We don’t have much power over the other person, but we have a lot of power over ourselves.

A special note for gay men: Open relationships appear to be practically the norm these days, but they are tricky to conduct well. (Yes, monogamy has its own challenges.) Jealousy, messy boundaries, dishonesty, and trust issues get easily activated. If you want to build a strong open relationship, be aware that doing so takes a lot of skill, a lot of honesty, a lot of acceptance, and some ways of keeping your primary relationship special. 

Also keep in mind that being a gay man doesn’t automatically provide skills such as:

  • The solidity of self to be trusting and generous.
  • The ability to sense how far boundaries can be pushed without doing too much damage. 
  • The capacity to transcend feelings of jealousy and pain. 
  • The strength of character not to idealize outside sex partners.

Wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day!

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].

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When one half of a couple wants kids and the other doesn’t

How to navigate the biggest decision spouses will make



Dear Michael,

I’m wrestling with my fiancé about becoming parents and it’s delaying our getting married.

We’ve been dating for three years and would like to spend our lives together. But the issue of becoming parents has always been a source of disagreement for us.

Will says he has never been that interested, while I’ve always wanted to be a dad.

Will says he is willing to do it if it’s important to me but he’s really concerned he will be resentful. He doesn’t want to give up having an active social life that includes going out a fair amount, drinks, dinners, and vacations with our friends, lots of time at the gym, etc. 

I like doing those things too but I’m feeling that I’m at a stage of my life (I’m 31) where I can put a fair amount of that behind me in order to focus on creating and raising a family. I wish he would also be willing to do so, but I know I can’t change his priorities.

I am hopeful we can work this out. For starters, I think that since he wants to go out more than I do, I could stay home a fair amount of the time and take care of the kids when he’s doing what he wants to do.  

Also, we are both pretty successful and could afford a fair amount of child care (especially as we advance in our careers—and we’re not going to be having children right away) so I’m thinking we could have a nanny who could take care of the kids when we want to stay out late or go away for a weekend, or even come with us sometimes when we travel so that we’re able to also do what’s important to Will and not just be with the kids at every moment. 

I’m thinking we can have the best of both worlds.

Will’s not as optimistic as I am and this worries me. I think I’ve come up with some good solutions and would like him to be supportive and on board. He says he doesn’t think it’s that simple but when I press him for what that means, he won’t say.

I don’t feel like we can get married until we’ve figured this out. What are your thoughts for how we can get to a place of agreement on this?

Michael replies:

If you and Will are going to build a successful long-term marriage, you both will need to develop your ability to discuss hard topics, including your differences of opinion on important matters.  Otherwise, you will have a lot of resentment, anger, and misunderstandings over the years.

Your current gridlock is an opportunity for both of you to work on tolerating hard conversations and the possibility of tremendous letdowns. This isn’t fun, but it’s an essential part of being in an intimate relationship.

My hunch is that Will won’t give you a straight answer because he doesn’t want to let you down. You can’t force him to tell you what he’s thinking, but perhaps you can get his answer by letting him know that you want to know what he’s thinking, even if what he’s thinking may gravely disappoint you.  

For you to have this conversation with Will, you will have to mean what you say: You must be prepared for him to tell you that he doesn’t want to be a father.

Unless Will is willing to parent with an open heart and without resentment, going forward with parenthood would be a mistake. The resentment would be corrosive to your relationship and would damage any children you might have. Children should never be made to feel that they are a burden or annoyance to a parent.  

Let’s look at your thoughts on making parenting more palatable for Will. 

With regard to your idea that the two of you could frequently go out and travel, while leaving the kids with a nanny: Good parenting is time-intensive. Especially in the early years, it’s vital that you consistently convey to children through your presence and actions that you are there for them, that you love them, and that they are your top priority.  This is how children develop a “secure attachment” — the bedrock of strong self-esteem, a sense of security that comes from inside, and the ability to form healthy relationships.  

I certainly don’t mean being present every minute — obviously, most parents have jobs, rely to some degree on childcare and babysitters, and need some time to occasionally have at least a bit of a life apart from being a parent. And I can’t tell you exactly what “enough” is, other than to say that parents should generally be the ones to wake their children up, feed them at least some of their meals, take them on adventures, bake cookies together, just hang out, read books to them, do the bedtime routine, and be there in those middle-of-the-nights when a child needs comforting.  

Your idea of staying home while Will does his thing seems like a quick road to resentment. Do you think you’d be happy wishing him a fun night on the town while you’re staying home for the umpteenth time with a sick or wound-up toddler who refuses to go to sleep, or simply stuck doing the bedtime routine solo, yet again? Moreover, it would be awful for your child to have a sense that one of his or her parents is somehow distant or unreliable. You want to aim for your kids to feel like they are the apple of your eye.

Here’s an idea: You are apparently doing all the work to figure out how to make parenting easy on Will. How about asking Will for his ideas on what it would take to make parenting something he’d be willing to do? Perhaps if the two of you collaborate, you could find a way forward that works for you both. 

On a related note, talking with parents (gay and straight) of young children about their experiences would be helpful and eye-opening to you both in all sorts of ways. 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].

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Erin’s guide to the holidays for Transgender people & family

Holidays can be very hard- They don’t have to be. Family members who strive to support their trans relatives or friends play a crucial role



Trans snowflake graphic courtesy of Erin Reed

By Erin Reed | MISSOULA, MT. – The holidays can be particularly challenging for transgender individuals. Families often take time to “get it,” and during this period, most transgender people simply want to be treated like any other family member, with their names and pronouns respected, and their identities not becoming the “controversial dinner table topic” during what should be a joyous time.

For those without accepting families, the situation can be even more daunting. Many transgender individuals face difficult decisions, such as dressing in a gender that does not align with their identity or using the wrong name, just to be allowed at the dinner table. Bearing this in mind, I wish to share insights and tips aimed at both transgender and cisgender individuals who want to ensure the holidays are memorable for the right reasons.

For Trans People

I understand more than most the difficulty of dealing with family during the holiday season. My own family has never been very accepting. This year, the holidays are even more challenging, as we are in the midst of one of the most significant assaults on our ability to live and exist publicly and safely in recent history. While each transgender person’s experience is unique, I want to address a few common concerns that have been brought to me for advice, and share what I believe are the best ways to handle these issues.

Family has a broad meaning. Before delving into the practicalities of holiday gatherings, it’s crucial to define what “family” truly means. For numerous queer and trans individuals, family extends beyond biological ties to include those we find in our community. This family consists of people who support us in tough times and those we care for when no one else does. As you decide how and where to spend the holidays, remember that you have agency in this choice. Often, the most significant family members are not those related by blood who may reject us, but rather those we’ve found in the margins and embraced as our own. Celebrating the holidays with your chosen family can transform the occasion into one of the most magical and joyous experiences.

Find the supportive family members when traveling. If you’re fortunate enough to have an entirely supportive family, that’s fantastic! Enjoy the festivities, even if the “overly supportive family member” can sometimes be a bit much (I’ll offer some tips to those folks later in the guide). However, for many in our community who face a lack of support from family, finding a safe, friendly, and accepting relative can be invaluable. Often, family attitudes towards gender identity are not uniform. This is something I’ve experienced personally. If you can identify such a family member, try to spend time with them. During challenging moments, suggest they join you for various activities – a walk, playing a video game, or even a quick trip to the store. These family members can be true lifesavers.

Show grace, but advocate for yourself. In today’s time, cisgender people and especially cisgender family often struggle with things that come very simply to trans people. Names, pronouns, probing questions, and struggling with boundaries is already common enough in many trans people’s day-to-day lives. This all magnifies around family. Keeping this in mind, practice discernment when it comes to navigating the questions and missteps. We truly can move the needle on trans acceptance for so many people if we can help them understand. I remember one family member, when I came out, said “it’s just really hard” every time they used a different name or pronoun. I responded to them, “It’s good that it’s hard. That means you’re trying. Thank you for trying.” This family member has since used my name and pronouns in many situations.

That said, there is a difference between helping someone who wants to understand and someone who refuses to. If a family member consistently uses your old name and shows no intention of learning or respecting a fundamental aspect of who you are, you shouldn’t subject yourself to an abusive environment in pursuit of an idealized family holiday. Assert your identity confidently and don’t hesitate to correct family members who use the wrong name or pronouns for you.

Be safe and communicate your safety concerns. One of the most common questions I get from trans people is how to tell their family of their inability to visit due to restrictive laws in certain states. For cisgender people, this concern might seem distant, but for transgender individuals, the impact of these legal challenges is a constant reality. States like Florida, Texas, Kansas, and Tennessee have enacted numerous laws that can significantly affect transgender individuals participating in everyday activities. For instance, Florida’s criminal bathroom ban can make the idea of visiting even supportive family members in such states a daunting prospect. It’s essential to prioritize your safety and clearly communicate the precautions you need to take when visiting a state with laws that could potentially target you for activities as basic as using a bathroom.

If you are not out… It’s important to find a private space where you can express your true self. Join your favorite affirming Discord server or keep phone numbers of trusted individuals who know and understand your real identity. Consider wearing an item of clothing feels affirming, like a necklace, a bracelet hidden under a long-sleeved shirt, or even a special pair of socks. Remember, it’s entirely normal for dysphoria to intensify during family gatherings. Plan for recovery time afterward, where you can spend time with people you’re out to and focus on your wellbeing.

For Family

Family members who strive to support their transgender relatives or friends play a crucial role. If you’re committed to being that supportive figure, know that your efforts are deeply appreciated by many trans individuals who lack such support. Importantly, your active acceptance can be life-saving. Studies show that family acceptance is linked to a significant reduction in suicidality risks, halving them for those with accepting family members. Bearing this in mind, let’s explore how you can help make the holidays more comfortable and enjoyable for your transgender family members.

Be the person they can turn to. Even with your support, transgender individuals may encounter a range of reactions from other family members regarding their transition during the holidays. This can create significant stress. Be accessible to them and communicate that they can always turn to you if they need someone to talk to. Offer them an “out,” a way to spend private time with you if they ever feel the need. Reassure them that they can always rely on your support.

Invite their queer and trans friends. This is important for so many reasons. Nearly every transgender person knows friends who won’t be welcomed by their families this holiday season. Your transgender family members might hesitate to invite their queer and trans friends, uncertain about the family’s readiness to provide both physical space and an accepting environment. Make it clear to them that your family is open to supporting not just them, but also their friends. This gesture also offers the added benefit of allowing transgender or queer individuals to feel that there are others present who genuinely understand their experiences.

Help alleviate their safety concerns in public spaces. Often over the holidays, families will go out to local events, restaurants, movie theaters, and more. Practically, transgender people often have to plan out public outings, especially in places where acceptance may be lacking or where people might even be openly hostile. If your trans family members express discomfort about bathrooms or other public spaces, let them know you’ll accompany them if they need it.

Just love and treat them like any other family member. While their transition may be the biggest change you’ve seen in their life recently, know that often, trans people feel much more free to explore so many other things they love after transition. You’ll hear most say that “transition is the least interesting thing about me.” While it is important to do the basic things like getting their name and pronouns right, don’t make their holiday experience mostly about their transition. Instead, allow them to thrive and share all of the things they love with you.


I hope that these tips will be helpful over the holidays. These times can be very hard, but for many, a good experience can be healing. 

And for all of my readers and all of the people who are seeking to make the world a little bit better out there, Zooey and I wish all of you the happiest of holidays.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here:


The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Gay clone wonders if he’s part of an ant colony

Why do we cede control of our social lives to others?



(Image by Tamara Luiza/Bigstock)


Looking at some photos from my weekends at the beach this summer, it struck me that me and my friends (gay men in our 30s-40s) all pretty much look alike. Practically the same haircut, gym body, swimwear, smile. I almost couldn’t tell who was who.

This got me thinking. I live in the same apartment building as a lot of my friends. We all have similar furniture and watch the same shows and eat at the same restaurants and go to the same clubs and dance to the same music and drink the same drinks and vacation in the same places and work out at the same gym and belong to the same sports leagues and go to the same concerts and have the same routines.

I’m not even sure who makes the decisions about what to do. Something is popular, or becomes popular, and it seems like fun and we’re all doing it. Then it’s on to the next thing. But who is deciding what all of us are doing, not doing, or no longer doing?

I think I’m happy, generally, having fun, but I have this strange feeling like I’m part of an ant colony instead of being an individual.

Is this just the way it is? We find our tribe and then we’re all going through life together like this?

Michael replies:

I think you are facing an unavoidable dilemma that comes with being human. How much do you give up your own individuality to fit in? Put differently, what price are you willing to pay, to live an honest life and be known as the person you really are?

Did you come out—which takes great effort and brings some risks—to live a life that is right for you? Or to live pretty much the same life that your friends are living?

If you are happy doing all the same things as your friends, without even knowing for sure why you’re spending your time (that is, your life) doing these things, no problem.

But you feel like you’re part of an ant colony. So clearly, this way of living doesn’t sit all that well with you.

What would you be doing if you weren’t following the group agenda? How would you cut your hair? Would you go to the gym as much? What shows would you like (or not like) to watch? Where would you vacation? Do you like the drinks you’re ordering?

And some more important questions: What do you deeply care about? What are your values? What are the sorts of things you want to dedicate your life to? Are you living in a way that reflects any of this?

This may be the only life you get. Using it well (in my view, at least) means deciding for yourself who you want to be and how you want to live.

Sometimes people are afraid to be different out of fear that they won’t fit in with their friend group. People often tell me they’re worried they will be criticized or viewed negatively for wanting to do things that are different from what “everyone” likes to do. No one wants to be left out of parties or dinners or vacation plans.

Do you think your friends would still want to spend time with you if you weren’t always on board with “the plan,” or suggested some new ideas for activities that you were genuinely interested in?

It’s possible that if you start developing more of an individual identity, you might fit in less with some (or even all) of your friends. Feeling lonely or unpopular is not fun. You may have to decide if that’s better or worse than putting on a persona to fit in and be accepted.

It’s also possible that you can be more thoughtful about what you do, sometimes say “no” and still be part of your friend group.

Even if your friends aren’t always on the same page, I’m hopeful you can continue to have close relationships with at least some of them. A real friendship should be able to tolerate different views and different interests. How could it be otherwise, when all of us are different in some big ways, even from our closest friends?

Thinking about your dilemma through this lens, you could view sharing more of yourself with your friends and letting them know you better as an invitation for greater closeness.

If you make any moves along these lines, perhaps you will find that some of your friends have similar feelings. You might be less alone than you think.

In any case, you will be choosing a more honest life and the opportunity to be known for whom you really are.

(Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].)

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Trans 101 by Rose Montoya: Sexual assault awareness month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, LA Blade columnist Rose Montoya chats about two deeply related personal issues



Graphic courtesy of the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity, NC State University

Los Angeles Blade featured columnist, Rose Montoya, is a hugely popular YouTube, Instagram & Tiktok creator with her‘Trans 101′ 1 minute video shorts which offer tips, advice, and support for Trans people and solid information for Trans allies and others seeking answers.

LOS ANGELES – April has been Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I’m a survivor of multiple sexual assaults before I transitioned and since. I want to say if it’s happened to you, remember that it’s not your fault no matter what. Make sure you’re safe. It’s okay to tell someone you trust what happened. You shouldn’t have to carry this alone. If you choose to report, try not to change anything about your physical appearance, so they can collect any evidence that may be on your body.

Dealing with the aftermath can be overwhelming, but you’re not alone. Consider seeking medical care at places like Planned Parenthood or reach out to a hotline such as RAINN 800.656.HOPE (4673) or Trans Lifeline 877.565.8860. I never reported mine, because I didn’t feel safe to do so. The decision should be yours and yours alone. If you’re minor, however, and tell an adult, they may legally be required by their job to report it.

I Have Herpes

This is really hard for me to talk about. But because it’s important to destigmatize and April is STI Awareness Month, I want to let y’all know that I am living with herpes. I continue to have healthy relationships, intimacy, and am healthy and happy.

Herpes is a super-common virus that will always stay in my body. It can cause blisters or sores on my genitals and/or mouth. They can be painful and embarrassing, but usually don’t lead to serious health problems for people. More than half of Americans have oral herpes also known as cold sores or fever blisters and 1 in 6 people ages 15-49 have genital herpes. It is spread from skin-to-skin contact with infected areas, often during sex and kissing.

Many people don’t notice the sores or mistake them for something else, and may not know they’re infected. It is most contagious when sores are open, but it can even be spread when someone is asymptomatic. Herpes can live in the body for years without causing symptoms, so it’s hard to know for sure when and how it is contracted. There is no cure, but medication can ease the symptoms and lower chances of giving the virus to a partner. And luckily, outbreaks usually become less frequent over time.

There’s no shame in having an STI. The best thing is to be educated, communicate honestly, and play safe.


Rose, is a Hispanic, bisexual, nonbinary transgender woman. Rose’s pronouns are she/her/hers and they/them/their/theirs. She works as a model, actor, public speaker, makeup artist, advocate, and content creator.

Rose is also a board member of Aadya Rising, a nonprofit working to fill in the gaps to help the transgender community. She has been in campaigns and featured by TomboyXSavage X FentyYandyFX NetworksNew York City PridePlanned Parenthood, and more. Their goal is to spread love and education about their community as they share their story.


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Trans 101 by Rose Montoya: Trans Day of Visibility

“This Trans Day of Visibility I urge you to educate yourself, uplift Trans voices, and fight for our rights”



Los Angeles Blade graphic

Los Angeles Blade featured columnist, Rose Montoya, is back with her hugely popular ‘Trans 101′ 1 minute video shorts from Insta which offer tips, advice, and support for Trans people and solid information for Trans allies and others seeking answers.

LOS ANGELES – Visibility is a double-edged sword. Trans people are more visible than ever, and with all the applause also comes attacks against our community. This year a record breaking 400+ anti-trans bills have been introduced.

At the time of filming this video, 6 states have banned gender affirming care for youth. Tennessee banned public drag which can be interpreted to banning trans people from appearing to be trans in public.

Trans people deserve to exist without fear. People of all gender identities deserve civil and human rights, including the right to bodily autonomy, to use the restroom, to access high-quality, affordable health care and accurate, relevant education and information so we can live full, healthy lives.

This Trans Day of Visibility I urge you to educate yourself, uplift Trans voices, and fight for our rights. Learn more at



Rose, is a Hispanic, bisexual, nonbinary transgender woman. Rose’s pronouns are she/her/hers and they/them/their/theirs. She works as a model, actor, public speaker, makeup artist, advocate, and content creator.

Rose is also a board member of Aadya Rising, a nonprofit working to fill in the gaps to help the transgender community. She has been in campaigns and featured by TomboyXSavage X FentyYandyFX NetworksNew York City PridePlanned Parenthood, and more. Their goal is to spread love and education about their community as they share their story.


To follow Rose:

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