Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Culturally Appropriate Career Counseling with Gay and Lesbian Clients

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Culturally Appropriate Career Counseling with Gay and Lesbian Clients

Article excerpt

This article details the current knowledge regarding the provision of culturally appropriate career services to gay and lesbian clients. It is divided into 5 parts: history and context for the delivery of career counseling services to gay and lesbian clients, counselor self-preparation for working with gay and lesbian clients, client-focused interventions useful for counseling with gay and lesbian clients, program-focused interventions useful for addressing the special issues that this group presents, and appropriate advocacy or social action interventions. Issues of multiple cultural identities and the intersection of lesbian and gay issues with race and ethnicity are also addressed.

Providing effective and culturally appropriate career counseling to gay and lesbian clients may appear, at first glance, to be largely the same as helping nongay or nonlesbian clients identify and pursue their career goals. Even in the literature on career counseling with lesbian and gay persons published prior to 1990, few articles identified any special interventions that were different from the career counseling practice with majority culture individuals. Since 1990, however, a substantial body of literature has been published that addresses career counseling with lesbian and gay persons (Pope, 1995c), but very little of the past or recent career counseling literature regarding gay men and lesbian women has addressed the issues of nondominant racial or ethnic groups (Chung & Katayama, 1998; Pope & Chung, 2000). Furthermore, as there has not been a concomitant increase in articles published on the career development of people who identify as bisexual, transgender, intersex, or questioning, this article focuses exclusively on the provision of career counseling services to gay and lesbian clients.

The purpose of this article is to detail the current knowledge regarding the provision of culturally appropriate career services to gay and lesbian clients. It is divided into five parts: history and context, counselor selfpreparation for working with gay and lesbian clients, client-focused interventions useful for counseling with gay and lesbian clients, programfocused interventions useful for addressing the special issues that this group presents, and appropriate advocacy or social action interventions. Issues of multiple cultural identities and the intersection of lesbian and gay issues with race and ethnicity are also addressed.

History and Context

In the past several years, the emergence of an identifiable lesbian and gay culture in most medium-to-large metropolitan areas in the United States has dispelled the long-held negative stereotypes of gay men as effeminate and lesbian women as overly masculine (Barret & Logan, 2001; Pope, 1995c; Pope & Barret, 2002). Prior to that, if gay men and lesbian women did not live in large cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Boston, where vital lesbian and gay culture thrives, gay men and lesbian women generally kept their sexual orientation a closely guarded secret on the job. Many of them fabricated social lives that included dates with persons of the opposite sex, and they rarely shared their vacation photographs with their coworkers. If there was a social event with coworkers, many would bring opposite sex dates that had been secured to help cover their secret. Some even chose careers on the basis of their safety in the event they decided to come out. For example, it was not unusual to hear young gay men or lesbian women speak of avoiding careers that involved working with children or comment on conservative corporations that would not deal with their sexual orientation easily. Others carefully guarded their sexual orientation for fear that the promotions would be denied them if they were more "out." Fortunately today, for many lesbian and gay clients, much of this is changing, and it is not unusual to hear casual conversations about the social and relationship aspects of gay and lesbian coworkers in the workplace. …

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