Michael E. Holtby, LCSW, BCD
Gay & Bisexual Men
Cartoon used with permission from the Advocate, Copyright 1989.On June 28th, 1969 the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. In this era the police routinely rousted homosexuals with tickets for jay walking, public indecency, resisting arrest etc. Bar patrons were often hauled off in a paddy wagon, only to release them after hours at the police station. On this hot summer night, fed up with the abuse, and with tensions running especially high due to the death just days earlier of Judy Garland, a drag queen named Silvia Rivera threw a bottle at a police officer. A riot ensued which lasted for three days. The crystallization of the gay rights movement was galvanized with this event. Soon afterwards chapters of the Gay Liberation Front sprang up around the country.
A month later I entered a gay bar for the first time as a part of an urban
training project for social workers. That Fall I began my graduate fieldwork
with the University of Washington School of social work, and given the task of
reaching a hard-to-reach population. I chose Seattle's Gay Liberation Front, and
the gay community. Upon graduation all the gay therapists were still in the
closet in the early seventies -- so everywhere I worked I was referred all the
In 1977 when I started my private practice in Denver, the same year the Gay Community Center was founded (since renamed The Center). I worked closely with Phil Nash, the Center's first Director, and was part of the Center's Mental Health Advisory Board which trained the phone counselors. Since that time a large portion of my caseload has remained with gay men, and I run two on-going psychotherapy groups for gay men.
In the quarter century I have been a therapist I have seen well over 2,000 gay men as clients.
* For the years 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002 & 2003: Selected as "Reader's Choice" for psychotherapist by the readers of Out Front, Colorado's largest gay publication.
* PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays) 2001 Community Service Award for work within the GLBT community in Denver since 1977.
* Honored by the Denver City Council for GLBT Community Service within Denver, 2001.
Should I See a Gay Therapist?A University of Washington doctoral candidate, Nancy Nystrom found some disturbing evidence that many experiences for gays and lesbians seeking therapy are highly negative:
From The Advocate, April 1, 1997, Issue 730, pp. 20.
These results certainly indicate reason for caution and some alarm when seeking psychotherapy if you are gay. This is particularly true when using an HMO or PPO (managed health care organization). You call a 1-800 number, talk with someone out of state, and they refer you to someone they don't know. They base it on zip code, on the rationale that the best person for you to see lives close by. If you are a gay man this is a poor criteria to go by. You need someone with extensive background and experience with gay clients. Does that person have to be gay themselves? Obviously, being straight, I don't think so. It may be an absolute necessity for your own comfort level. However, I haven't found it to be an issue with the vast majority of my clients, as I know Denver's gay community, resources and people very well. There is a joke that at one time or another I've seen almost everyone in the gay community in my consulting room. Certainly 2,000 gay men is but a small fraction of the estimated 60-80,000 gay men in the metropolitan area of Denver. But if you are unsure, ask your friends. Someone you know has likely been to see me over the past twenty years.
WHAT COLLEAGUES SAY:
"I had the opportunity to read your paper "Three Decades in the Gay Community as a Straight Therapist" Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, Vol. 16, #2, Nov 2, 2004, for my social work foundation class at East Tennessee State University. I am so completely moved by you and your support of the gay community, especially during a time in our history when homosexuality was still considered a psychopathology and many gay therapists themselves were unable to come out of the closet and openly advertise themselves as a safe place for gays and lesbians to seek help. Your work with folks during the AIDS crisis is also admirable, and as someone who lost a number of friends in the mid 80's I can only imagine what that must have been like to facilitate support groups for this population. I subsequently found your website and have to say, I love the way you present yourself with both warmth and strong boundaries, especially around the way you set up your fee scale." 10/23/2012
Beth E. Barber, MSW Intern, Graduate Student Success Specialist, School of Graduate Studies
EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY
For further information see the following websites:
My friend and colleague in Manhattan, Michael Shernoff, MSW has a number of relevant and interesting articles on his web site, for example, "Chronically Single Gay Men in Search of True Love."
Also see Sexual Addictions:
Last messed with February 23, 2016