Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Winter 2003-2004

10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives, by Joe Kort

reviewed by Brett Lock

Joe Kort’s informal, friendly and chatty book provides practical advice from his years as a therapist. Using his own experiences and those of former clients, he presents the trials and tribulations of gay life less as “case studies” and more as casual examples of all-too-familiar examples that most readers will identify with. And then he provides solutions.

Many of the solutions are not easy and may require courage, hard work and commitment, but there is little doubt that he makes a persuasive case based on common sense.

He is very influenced by the Imago school of therapy, which holds that the key to many of our adult problems, particularly those concerned with how we relate to ourselves, our families and our partners, can be traced to familiar patterns of interaction we learned from our parents and families while growing up.

Kort’s ten steps

  1. Take responsibility for your own life
  2. Affirm yourself by coming out
  3. Resolve issues with your family
  4. Graduate from eternal adolescence
  5. Avoid (or overcome) sexual addiction
  6. Learn from people whose lives are working well
  7. Take advantage of therapy “workouts”
  8. Maintain rewarding relationships
  9. Understand the stages of loves
  10. Commit to a partner

He acknowledges that many problems we face as gay people, particularly in our relationships, derive from the lack of social and familial support we receive as well as internalised homophobia and our willingness to accept stereotypical behaviour as the norm. Coupled with the (often destructive) patterns of interaction (commonly known as “baggage”) we’ve learned and assimilated from childhood, life can – and often does – become a puzzling mess. But the picture is less gloomy than it may at first seem. Taking Kort’s “10 Smart Things” as a starting point, many will find they can lead richer, more satisfying lives and discover new ways to make relationships more rewarding.

Even though the title suggests the book is written for gay men, this seems unnecessarily exclusive. Much of the information is relevant to all gay and lesbian people. Sections of the book will be particularly helpful to older gay people in their late thirties or forties who have delayed coming out and may now find themselves confused and adrift.

The book is never preachy and the fact that Kort is so open about many of his own foibles gives the book a genuine warmth and sincerity.

Joe Kort, MA, MSW, ACSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit.

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Created : Sunday, 2004-02-01 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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