Learning To Check In, Call Out Our Own Subtle Racism

Psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey (screen capture)


With so much turmoil in the nation right now, many people are asking “How can I help? How can I be part of the solution?”

But the social terrain can be scary. Even folks who consider themselves ‘good guys’  – on the side of equal rights and justice – question are they ‘doing it right?’

On Tuesday this week, one trend was to take part in ‘Blackout Tuesday’ in order to show you stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. But some folks got backlash here and there with comments saying, “Don’t do it like that – resist like THIS.”

Even with the best of intentions, folks who want to support the movement are confused.

As a Flashback Friday post, we wanted to share this video from psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey.

Back in 2015, he shared how an awkward moment in his own life helped him learn to ‘check himself’ even when he knew in his head he was an ally.

“Growing up gay and feeling like an outlier for most of my life easily lends itself to greater empathy for others who’ve felt the same,” wrote Dempsey when he first shared the video in 2015. “My experience also lends itself to the illusion that I couldn’t possibly continue discriminating against others, including people of color. Watch my latest video on how I own racism in an effort to heal.”

“As a gay man, I have this real value set in wanting to eradicate discrimination across the board,” says Dempsey in the video. “The only way that I know that I can really do that most effectively is by being able to check in with myself and seeing what’s going on here first.”

As an example, Dempsey shares how many gay men grow up exposed to homophobic beliefs and how they can become a part of our subconscious. Those thoughts can color how we see ourselves and the LGBTQ community as a whole. But when we’re aware that it’s there, we can call it out.

Being raised in a society where racist beliefs do exist, we are exposed to them whether we want to be or not. Dempsey says when we check in with ourselves about even the most subtle aspects of racism, then we can call it out and own it.

Dempsey references the 2015 film Stonewall which created a fictional white male character as a principal in the storytelling when history knows the Stonewall protests were led by the trans community and gay people of color. As many pointed out at the time, that was subtle racism in overshadowing the historical figures with a white, gay man.

He also mentions the issue of fetishizing the idea of having sex with ‘dominate’ black men, another form of racism.

Before we get to the video clip, we know today is not five years ago. And life at this moment in time is sensitive in regard to each and every word people utter when speaking about race relations.

In sharing this, I ask that you watch the video in its entirety to get to Dempsey’s point.

I reached out to Dempsey to see if he had any followup to his 2015 commentary. He sent this update:

“This message I put out there 5 years ago is a perfect example of how acknowledging White privilege is inherently imperfect and wrought with blind spots for us to call out and change. The most cringe-worthy moment as I rewatch now is when I suggest it’s OK to have racial preferences for dating and sex because clearly, that’s some racist bullshit tbh. I know better. Now I can do better. And this is how I stand for BIPOC and Black Lives Matter.”

One more thing: please do not have a knee-jerk reaction to the title of Dempsey’s video. The title makes a point, so watch the video to get to ‘the point.’


Quarantine Coaching: Coping With The ‘Funhouse Mirrors’ Effect

Psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey

Psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey’s latest video explores how LGBTQ folks can see a very distorted image of ourselves because of emotional issues, how that’s put on even more of a hyperdrive during COVID, and what we can do.

From the good therapist:

What we see reflected in the mirror can go from a “flower crown” to “zombie lens” filter in a heartbeat without anything actually changing.

We tend to buy what we see on the surface at face value without realizing how much it’s distorted by our deeper emotional stuff. And us gays have plenty thanks to homophobia.

Check out my latest video on the “Funhouse Mirrors” effect, how it can be more triggering than ever during COVID, and how we can reset not only what we feel but also what we see.

Taking A Look At The Effects Of ‘Queer Cancel Culture’

Psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey

Psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey takes a look at where our instinct for “queer cancel culture” comes from and explores other options that might be healthier for our heads and hearts.

Taking a cue from his own experiences as a young gay, Dempsey says he realized that, as bad relationships fell away, he made mental notes to “never let that happen again.”

But as he started having healthier relationships, echoes of those harmful experiences would show up and he would “pounce on the littlest thing that felt like it was a reflection” of his past trauma.

Dempsey admits some of those reactions might have been a little ‘out-sized’ for the moment even if they were a protective response. But he realized those feelings might have kept him from meaningful relationships.

This brings him to the topic of ‘queer cancel culture’ and how it may (or may not) be the healthiest reaction every time the LGBTQ community is attacked.

“‘Cancel culture’ is when a person or an entity does or says something that we just viscerally disagree with,” explains Dempsey. “And we don’t just write them off but we kind of rally the troops to boycott or shut them down.”

To be sure, Dempsey isn’t saying we shouldn’t stand up for ourselves when companies like Chick-fil-A take our consumer dollars and donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations. Quite the contrary.

“For a community that has long been oppressed and silenced, us queer people need to make sure we continue to use our voices to assert our right for equality anytime it’s challenged or ignored,” says Dempsey.

He points to companies like Chick-fil-A and eHarmony, or performers like Kevin Hart, who learned first-hand the backlash they can expect when they were unwilling to acknowledge their contributions of inequity to LGBTQ+ people.

Considering recent events, it’s impossible not to think of a certain disgraced former congressman in this line of thinking, no?

“Calling out any discrimination is a must,” asserts Dempsey.”But is canceling entire companies and public figures who misstep an even more effective strategy to let the larger society know what is no longer tolerable?”

“We don’t want to just keep putting out fires, we want to make sure we teach people how to not even start them.”

He also wonders if there are “overlooked costs” to the community and to the mental health of the people doing the canceling?

Trust and believe, he isn’t advocating that the LGBTQ community lay down our arms. As he says, “F*ck no.”

“Of course we need to make sure that we’re being really assertive in our need for equality, but we also want to have some openness so we are able to win over the people who ARE able to learn and make some changes with us.”

Check out Dempsey’s latest video, “Queer Cancel Culture,” and his thoughts on the responses that can either maintain or help heal trauma both community-wide and individually.

And then sound off in the comments section: Do you agree? Disagree? We want to know.

Matthew Dempsey Says It’s Ok To Be ‘Needy’

Matthew Dempsey (image via Instagram)

In his latest YouTube video, psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey explores not only why but how we should speak up to make sure our needs are met.

It makes sense that we should always ask for what it is that we want, but many of us often don’t.

Maybe we were ‘the best little kid in the world’ and taught ourselves to not make waves in order to be loved?

Or perhaps we learned to be a rebel at a young age and now we don’t take any shit?

According to Dempsey, both perspectives can “stem from our own underlying fear that we’re really not worth caring about.”

Recounting a recent chapter in his life where he stood firm on what it was he wanted in terms of dating, Dempsey makes the case that it’s ok to tell people what it is we need.

As Dempsey puts it, if friends or lovers can’t give or respect what it is we need from them, then maybe we need to love those folks “from a distance.”

“We have to forgive the people who aren’t able to meet our needs, and we have to invest like hell into those who can,” advises Dempsey.

Dempsey addresses the issue much better than I can, so hit the play button below.

And you can click these links to check Dempsey’s thoughts on body positivity, fear of losing sexual freedom, ‘pretty privilege,’ and what makes a gay ‘daddy.’

When You Miss Being A Couple But Can’t Give Up Sexual Freedom

Therapist Matthew Dempsey has a new web series, Cost of Two Sandwiches, where he sits down picnic style to offer his brand of "queer psychotherapeutic guidance" to LGBTQs who are struggling with personal issues like coming out, dating, religion, sex and body image.  In the latest episode, Dempsey chats with Sterling - a gay man who loves being single, but also thinks he wants a serious relationship.
Sterling (L) and therapist Matthew Dempsey (R)

Therapist Matthew Dempsey has a new web series, Cost of Two Sandwiches, where he sits down picnic style to offer his brand of “queer psychotherapeutic guidance” to LGBTQs who are struggling with personal issues like coming out, dating, religion, sex and body image.

In the latest episode, Dempsey chats with Sterling – a gay man who loves being single, but also thinks he wants a serious relationship.

It turns out Sterling was in a great relationship for nearly several years, but five years ago he felt a sexual itch and wanted to scratch it.

He approached his partner at the time about opening up the relationship to accommodate Sterling’s desire to “sexually explore.” The couple went to therapy together, and the boyfriend even agreed to try an open relationship, but assured Sterling, “I will leave.”

So, the two went their separate ways and Sterling has spent the past five years loving being single and being sex positive. In his own words, he’s “been exploring the f**k out” of his sexual self.

But, on some Sundays or Tuesday afternoons, he finds he misses having a partner to “stabilize” him. The problem for Sterling is he’s afraid of losing his sexual freedom.

Dempsey: “What would you say is the thing that scares you the most about being in a relationship?”

Sterling: “That I won’t get to hook up with anybody else.”

Sounds like a “having your cake and eating it, too” kind of situation.

Is this about fear of commitment? Or taking care of sexual needs?

Dempsey brings up a few issues that are central to the issue including compatibility in relationships, coping with our sex drives, and adopting relationships that align with societal views.

Hit play below to see how the chat plays out, then share your thoughts in the comments.

Is Sterling selfish? Or is he just trying to understand himself?

Exploring Who Is And What Makes A Gay “Daddy”

Eric Rutherford (L) and Patrick Dempsey (R)
(image via Instagram)

While the term “daddy” has gotten more and more popular in the gay community over the past several years, therapist Matthew Dempsey’s latest YouTube video explores what makes a gay “daddy?”

“Growing up gay, most of us didn’t have parents who shared that identity and could guide us through that experience as we stepped into adulthood. Enter the gay daddy,” Dempsey shares in the intro to the video. “Whether for friendship or romance, we can easily find ourselves drawn to older gay men for answers we never got and always needed.”

Dempsey enlists the aid of his friend and “resident daddy,” Eric Rutherford, to chat on how being a gay “daddy” affects gay men in regard to aging, dating, and taking care of yourself mentally and physically.

First up, Dempsey and Rutherford note some of the physical reasons why some men are labeled “daddy.”

Dempsey shares that he’s begun to get called daddy in part due to his greying hair and also thanks to being a therapist. But Rutherford, who works as a model for IMG, says when he was younger he felt a daddy was someone who displayed physical/muscular stature, presence and maturity.

There’s also aspect of whether or not some men “own” their age and experience. It’s no secret that gay culture can be a bit youth-obsessed.

Rutherford, who allows his hair to grey naturally but cops to occasionally using botox, encourages a balance in addressing how we physically age. “You can’t hide behind it, because no matter what, you could have all this done, fixed,” he says. “At the end of the day it’s still you.”

Dempsey concurs adding, “If at the core you’re really wrestling with deeper seated things about not feeling good about who you are, if you just look to the exterior to be the thing that’s gonna fix that, it’s not gonna work.”

Side note: I think Mr. Rutherford’s exterior is just fine. Definitely qualifies as “daddy” material.

When it comes to dating and sexual attraction regarding a daddy, Rutherford notes that when he was younger he was attracted to older guys, but as he’s reached his 40s and 50s he now dates a man 17 years his junior.

However, Rutherford admits that initially he had reservations about dating a younger man because he had “some judgement about a stereotype” not wanting to fall into a “sugar daddy” kind of role.

Both men agree that mental outlook is also an important component to daddyhood.

Instead of allowing age to become a negative in his mind, Rutherford, who’s 51, says he works everyday to keep a positive perspective and “living my best life to the fullest.”

“And I don’t have it all together by any means,” he says. “Every day I still wake up, I’m curious, I want to learn more, I want to experience more.”

And as a man who’s been sober for years, Rutherford says he stays grounded by making a conscious effort to stop and express gratitude for what he has achieved.

That doesn’t mean everyone escapes the pressures of aging. Rutherford shares that the “first big love” of his life committed suicide when he reached his 60s feeling he had “aged out” of gay culture.

“He was wildly accomplished, good-looking guy, incredible friends,” gushes Rutherford. But he adds that his former partner “felt invisible in this community and this culture – he wasn’t wanted.”

It’s an interesting chat for anyone who is, or is attracted to, a gay daddy. Watch below.

This Video About ‘Pretty Privilege’ Got A Lot Of Folks Worked Up

Psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey shares his thoughts on the effect of “pretty privilege” in life, and specifically in the LGBTQ community.
Psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey

Psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey shares his thoughts on the effect of “pretty privilege” in life, and specifically in the LGBTQ community.

Dempsey begins by defining exactly what “privilege” is.

In other words, what he calls ‘unearned advantages’ some folks are born with like being white, straight, male, cisgender, and yes, attractive.

When it comes to the ‘attractive’ component, Dempsey lists traits like being tall, having good hair, symmetrical features that he calls “hitting the genetic lottery.”

In the United States, its certainly true that all those characteristics can make life a bit easier to maneuver through.

Study after study has shown that being attractive may make it easier to find a mate, are perceived to be more intelligent and likable, and are viewed as healthier.

Speaking candidly, Dempsey admits to his audience that he knows he’s enjoyed “pretty privilege” in his life saying, “I didn’t have to work to be 6’3” and I didn’t have to work to have my face look the way it did.”

“This is just something that I was born into,” he adds.

And what does this get folks? According to Dempsey this ‘privilege’ translates into getting party invites, dates, job offers and more thanks to the way he looks.

Admittedly, its somewhat uncomfortable to watch and listen to someone describe their “born under a lucky star” status.

Even Dempsey admits, the discussion can come off a bit douchey:

“So you might be watching this after a couple minutes and thinking, ‘Why am I watching this douchebag talk about how attractive he is and how easy his life has been?’ Totally get it.

“Listen, my intention here is not to brag, I promise, because I recognize that I’m putting an easy target on my back for people to just drag me for days and tell me that I am no Pietro Boselli. I know that I am no Pietro Boselli!

“I don’t consider myself the pinnacle of physical beauty, but I do recognize that I have had an advantage in life just because of how I look. And so that’s what I want to talk about and acknowledge ‘pretty privilege’ is a real thing.”

Where Dempsey is going with all this is to say that when those with ‘unearned advantages’ admit those privileges, it helps honor and validate the disadvantage of others.

For instance, when hunky guys complain about not having 6% body fat to their friends who may truly struggle with their weight not only doesn’t ‘honor’ their friends but it is insensitive to others.

Take a few minutes and watch the video below.

The comments on the YouTube page ranged from disgust to agreement.

“6:31 minutes of this video basically : “I am hot and I acknowledge I am hot.’”

“I can relate to you Matt. But people let’s be clear there is a dangerous side to “pretty privilege”. The most morally, spiritually, and mentally bankrupt people are the “Hot Gays”.

“Thanks for acknowledging this struggle. Gay Asian male here who has probably internalized all the bad stuff going around about being gay and Asian while living in a mostly white, western NA city.”

“Disappointed in you Matt . I’ve been following you from the very beginning. But lately your vlogs have been very stereotypical on our lgbt community. Hunny this vlog was very narcissistic. I mean let’s be real. You live in Hollywood where you live and thrive on you looks . Smh. Conceited is boring . There are wayyyy more important things going on this world.”

“’… just because of how I look.’ I don’t think I have heard anyone say it more louder and honestly. Thanks Matthew.”

To be fair – watch the full six minutes to get Dempsey’s take on the subject and let me know what you think.

I’ve previously written about Dempsey here where he addresses facing ‘body image’ issues.

Is this a real conversation to be having? Or is it narcissistic to admit “pretty privilege?”

Therapist Matthew Dempsey Takes A Shirtless Hike To Chat On Body Issues

Matthew Dempsey (screen capture)

LA-based psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey‘s has made a name for himself on YouTube with his thoughtful insights on issues like racism, aging, masculinity, depression, and other topics of interest to gay men.

In the handsome therapist’s latest video, he uses his own smoking hot body as a visual aid to address the issue of body positivity and feeling comfortable in our own skin

Now, before we go any further, Dempsey admits in a note published with the video that he expects some “eye rolls” and “rejection” over revealing his flat abs and sculpted chest in an interview about “loving yourself at any size.”

“I understand how ridiculous that message can be coming from me,” says Dempsey. “Genetics has given me an unearned advantage in life and it’s easier for me to love my body when the world around me tells me it’s looking just fine.”

Matt says the interview and photo shoot by Jerrad Matthew isn’t “a ploy to nab some extra attention” but a vehicle to share his own concerns about showing his body out of fear that folks would not take him seriously.

“I’ve been afraid to show any of my body for fear that others could feel worse about theirs or even more that you would all think I’m a fraud and not care about me or what I have to say anymore,” says Dempsey. “I can sometimes get stuck in trying to predict what others want from me and not disappoint and my social media presence has been no exception.”

“So, here’s to a little bit of ego, a lot of surrender, and a whole lot of beauty in a shoot created by my friend Jerrad Matthew.”

Perusing comments on several LGBT websites, it appears the video might have backfired to some degree as some have chimed in with those predicted “eye rolls.” A few detractors say taking off your shirt when you’re handsome and ripped isn’t really much of an exercise in “feeling comfortable in your own skin.”

I think Dempsey looks mighty fine shirtless or otherwise. But what do you think, readers?

Does Dempsey’s lesson in challenging body issues land? Watch below.

More from the dashing Dempsey’s Instagram below:

A post shared by Matthew J. Dempsey (@mjdempseypsych) on May 21, 2018 at 1:57pm PDT
A post shared by Matthew J. Dempsey (@mjdempseypsych) on Apr 25, 2018 at 12:02am PDT
A post shared by Matthew J. Dempsey (@mjdempseypsych) on Feb 13, 2018 at 3:51pm PST

News Round-Up: May 31, 2018

Some news items you might have missed:

• Well, hello there fitness trainer Anatoly Goncharov (above). Aren’t you handsome…? #woof

• An Army veteran is suing the Department of Defense over its policy of excluding people with HIV from enlisting, being deployed overseas, or being commissioned as officers. Sergeant Nick Harrison was denied a position in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps because of a 1980s-era policy that judges HIV+ people to be “non-deployable.”

• Pop star Pink tweeted a pic of her wearing an HRC hat embroidered “Make America Gay Again” just in time for Pride Month. #iLovePink

• The Trump administration has announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and Europe. Europe and Mexico have pledged to retaliate quickly. The Dow closed down over 250 points today on the news.

• Hunter Schafer has gone from transgender activist to high fashion runaway model walking in nine shows, including for Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs and House of Holland.

• Take a couple of minutes to hike with smart guy/psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey as he chats about body image and how we see our selves.