“Coming Out of Shame : Transforming Gay and Lesbian Lives”–making a change

Kaufman, Gershen and Raphael, Lev. “Coming Out of Shame: Transforming Gay and Lesbian Lives”, Doubleday, 1996.

Making a Change

Amos Lassen

Reconciling oneself to the fact that he or she is gay has always been an issue in our community. We so badly want to be accepted, yet we are slow to accept ourselves. We grow up, in many cases, learning that to be gay is to be mentally ill, that we are unnatural and that we are abominations in the eyes of our religions. By the tie we reach our teen years and adolescence, those negative attitudes seem to be reinforced within us with a feeling of shame. We feel this way not for what we can do but for who we are and because of our sexuality. It is not easy to reach a plane where we are at peace and is many times the hardest struggle we ever face.

Gershen Kaufman and Lev Raphael, a long-time couple in “Coming Out of Shame” show us what that shame can do to us and how big a role it plays in our lives. Shame is an emotion that is rarely discussed but its importance cannot be underestimated. It shapes everything we do, especially self-esteem, identity and intimacy with others. We are very easily hurt in those three areas and we must become aware of how to deal with it, which is not always easy. Many times shame can cause us to hate ourselves ad bring about behavior that can be destructive,

This is one of those books everyone should read. The issue of shame during the coming-out process is powerful and we need to rid ourselves of it. Pride is only there when it s real and sincere. Kaufman and Raphael help to give the reader a sense of freedom and this is what we so badly need. When I was coming out I spent a lot of time reading about the world that I was to be a part of. It is too bad I did not have this book back then. It is a careful examination of shame, both sociologically and psychologically and it compassionately explains where shame fits into he lives of those of us that are gay. The sensitivity displayed in the book is healing and I think everyone who reads it will feel a great deal better afterwards. That inner-turmoil that is in so many of us can be alleviated and we all know how difficult it is to come out. Many of us are damaged by the whole process and here is a way to repair that hurt. Coming out is not an easy process and this book will help make that process easier. Undoubtedly there will always be hurt and pain and it often recurs but it can be eased. Shame is an internalized feeling ad to get it out is rough.

Shame also is silence in many cases. To break that silence of gay same, the authors recommend a way to come out of it. It is a journey –a journey toward self-acceptance and becoming whole. They give us looks at their own experiences and provide a variety of strategies.

I was inspired by what I read and when I look at where I am today in terms of what I went through, I am very proud of who I am. I wasn’t always. My gay pride is also my self pride and many of us need to learn how to claim that. Read this book—it will help you and I guarantee that.

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