Hi, my name is Luis Couret and I am a Behavioral Health clinician at Center on Halsted. I’m a 33-year-old, first-generation Cuban, cis-gender gay man. I struggled to define and coexist with much of my identity growing up because, like many LGBTQ youth, I lacked the affirming family household that I needed most.
Growing up, my family was very traditional, sexist, and homophobic. Many of these ideals were rooted in heteronormative, machismo standards that show up prevalently in Latinx households just like mine. I was unable to fully confront this experience until receiving life-saving support from my therapist. Therapy was my first opportunity to be honest with myself and undo the negative thought patterns that stalled me in living in my truth. My therapist was affirming and truly opened my mind to the possibility of existing as a gay man in all of my intersections and living a happy, full life — and potentially bringing my family along with me.
A high-risk moment for LGBTQ youth is before they come out because they often have no one to process their experiences with. They’re tasked with consuming media content showing LGBTQ attack and death, while sometimes hearing anti-LGBTQ language in their home and school environments. How do we expect a 12-year-old to process that this world can be violent toward them, and also show them that they still deserve joy and community?
I now have the opportunity to bring what my therapist gave me to the lives of many at Center on Halsted. Having worked at the Center for over 6 years, I’ve served in three different capacities as a clinician. I began my journey here as a Health Educator Clinician, then a Youth Program Clinician, and I’m now a Behavioral Health Clinician. I recently celebrated a win with some clients of mine who are a Spanish-speaking Latinx family that was struggling to affirm and support their trans child due to some of the same constructs my own family dealt with. To see their connection grow and strengthen through this process is and honor; and Behavioral Health therapy is something that all should have access to.
I know that there are individuals who can sincerely not afford to pay for these vital services. In the State of Illinois, if a youth under the age of 18 years old comes to therapy, they can have up to 6 sessions that are 90-minutes long without parental consent. This is a huge help — especially for our community. In the youth space, there are LGBTQ youth that come in without a parent in a crisis. For them to be able to legally be with us where we are able to build community and a treatment plan is a vital resource. That’s a fund that many youth, and many people in our community in general, cannot afford.
When you make a gift to Center on Halsted, you are giving an opportunity for community members to know that they are not alone. Your donations fund the staff, interns, and programs that support this work. This year, please consider donating to Center on Halsted’s Spirit of Giving campaign to keep vital services such as Behavioral Health alive.