Whether or not you are out of the closet with your parents, friends, or at work; having your therapist understand the issues that are unique to you is important. You should not ever feel uncomfortable talking (about relationship issues, sex, having children) while you are meeting with your therapist because you fear that your therapist isn’t gay or lesbian themselves and therefore wouldn’t truly understand.
If your therapist is uninformed about gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual issues, it is not your job to inform them. Even if your therapist is not lesbian, gay, bisexual or a transgender person, they should be knowledgeable and supportive. If it is important for you to have a gay or lesbian therapist, you can feel free to ask your potential therapist if they are apart of the LGBTQ community before you start meeting with them. If they are not willing to tell you, call different therapists until you get someone with whom you feel comfortable with.
Often, the reason people in the LGBTQ population don’t get help or get better is because they don’t fully trust that their therapist accepts them; clients don’t need tolerance from a therapist, they need acceptance. It is not very long ago that “conversion therapy” was outlawed in California. This is where families would send their gay and lesbian kids to a therapist in hopes to make them straight. Not only is this outrageous, but it is just not possible to “convert” someone from being gay or lesbian to being straight. Imagine if we told straight people that because of the overpopulation problem, we were going to convert them to be gay or lesbian so that they wouldn’t be able to reproduce without medical help. This is insane thinking. People are BORN the way they are born, and it is not our jobs to change that.
Ways to look for a truly LGBTQ friendly therapist: look for symbols of equality on their website (HRC symbol, triangle, rainbows, HRC symbol, etc), look for symbols of equality in their office (gay and lesbian magazines your therapist has in their office can be a big clue, such as The Advocate, Out Magazine, etc); if all else fails, ASK. It is often uncomfortable for client’s to ask, but ignorance is not your problem, it is theirs. If you want to know, always always always ASK!