Nick Fager is a LGBT+ psychotherapist practicing in New York plus the coordinator for LGBT+ services at the Kull Initiative for Psychotherapy (KIP) in Manhattan’s upper west side.
He also runs a support group for gay men struggling with dating app addictions called Grindr’ed Down, a KIP-based therapy group specifically tailored to gay men seeking intimacy beyond apps and struggling to maintain friendships and relationships. “It’s for people who are recognising that apps are not fulfilling them, yet are having a really hard time changing themselves,” Fager told Out.
There’s always been some easy alternative to solve our problems for us. We’ve become so good at avoiding minor discomfort that we’re unable to just sit with it, but we need to sit with it so it can guide us toward growth.
“Generally speaking, most minorities have had people around them to prepare them for the discrimination they’re going to face,” he says. “We typically don’t have that. We tend to keep everything inside and figure everything out ourselves, and that’s really bad for mental and medical health.”
One of Fager’s other projects is the Instagram page @gaytherapy, which he created last October. The page features inspiration quotes, educational videos, and powerful first-person narratives from LGBT+ people of all walks of life. The stories range from heartbreaking to hopeful, and each one serves as a reminder to keep your head up, think positively, and live the best life you can.
Check out some of our favourites from @gaytherapy:
Very excited to announce a new feature on my page. Every other post I’ll be featuring someone that is sharing a vulnerable story that has to do with being LGBT. The last picture I posted is a good example. As a therapist, I get the honor of hearing people’s vulnerable stories every day. I have learned that everyone in our community has a truly amazing story, it’s just a matter of being vulnerable and telling others instead of keeping it inside. Sharing helps, hearing that you’re not alone helps even more. Challenge the voices that say you should keep your story private and let others in. Examples: A hardship you went through, a coming out story, a story about transitioning gender, something you learned the hard way that you want others to know, experiences with addiction, HIV, body image, sex, family issues, aging in the gay community, app culture, stories of what it’s like to be gay or trans in your part of the world, experiences of resilience, and inspiring stories of activism and accomplishment. It can really be anything as long as it’s vulnerable, something that takes courage to share, and something that you think will help others to hear. Submit a one paragraph story to my DM. If your story is chosen, I’ll be in touch about taking a photo. Thanks everyone! #gaytherapy
In many ways, our phones have become our most secure attachments. They are our safety nets that keep us connected to an identity that feels comfortable. They are able to meet more of our needs than any human – they can provide us with social connection, food, sex, games, directions, transportation, humor, music etc. When we feel lost or confused, we turn to them for answers. When we feel distressed, we turn to them for comfort or distraction. When they run out of battery, we feel anxious and abandoned. We want to stay connected to our phones at all times, just like at one point, we wanted to stay connected to our parents at all times, but like any curious child, we have to journey away from that safety net and explore the world. If we stay within our comfort zone, we will never change or grow. When something or someone calls you away from your phone, let it happen. Let yourself explore, experiment, and take risks without the constant reminder of who you are or who you should be. Step outside of yourself for a little while, your phone will be there waiting for you when you return. #gaytherapy
No one is better at hiding away parts of themselves than the members of our community, because at some point we all had to, in order to fit in and to survive. Reconnecting with those parts of ourselves is a difficult and gradual task. We might assume that no one will love or accept the person we’re hiding, because those are the messages we received and lived by for so long. The only solution is to repeatedly put yourself out there and see, to let your guard down and live unabashedly as you. So many of us struggle to find love and happiness in our adult lives because we remain guarded and keep our true selves stashed away for fear of rejection. Become conscious of the fears that are holding you back from freely expressing yourself, then challenge them relentlessly. Yes, there will be letdowns and failures, but don’t allow yourself to use those letdowns and failures as confirmations of your negative self talk and justifications for going back into your shell. Those experiences are simply making you stronger and helping you to clarify what type of love that you want. Keep putting yourself out there no matter what happens. When you begin living as your authentic self, you become magnetic. #GayTherapy #gay #lesbian #bi #trans #lgbtq #nonbinary #transgender #queer #genderqueer #agender #pan #genderdysphoria #genderfluid #gaypride #gayrights #lovewins #love #followme #gendernonconfirming #gender #instagay #gaystagram #therapy #help #gaycouple #gaylove #quote #quoteoftheday
“I was forced to deal with racism at a young age. Or not deal, but be exposed to it. Growing up in rural West Michigan meant living in a heavily white area, and having white parents as an Asian kid. Growing up gay was fine because my identity was never contingent around being gay. Coming out was fine and easy, and I was so excited to finally dive into a group of other gay men who all had similar struggles. You can imagine my shock as I maneuvered my way around the United States getting as much, if not more, discrimination within the gay scene. We’re all attracted to what we’re attracted to, but there still seems to be a lot of marginalization in the gay community. Grindr, Scruff, Tinder, and the other apps are big perpetrators, but I’ve also been called a chink at more than one gay establishments by the people who work there, and with no disciplinary action taken by upper management because their “employees were hot”, it’s made me equally as self conscious and outraged about my race. I never got my validation based on masculinity, sex or appearance like most of us do; it was always through being well spoken, talented, and hard working. Most days are good, but there are many, even at the age of 30, where I feel like my race has become the crumbling factor to me missing out on a lot of things that my Midwestern upbringing instilled in me – the desire to be in a healthy relationship, building a life, and being successful. Regardless of how I try to ignore it, I will always be gay, and have had to assimilate to being constantly judged, perceived and rejected based on my race within the community. My race, like my sexuality, is the way I was born, yet I’ve found it unsettling that the majority of gay men don’t want to be judged for being gay but have no problem separating things based on race. We’re all just working through this thing called life, and I wish someone felt the same way about me that I feel about myself.” Ross, New York City. #gaytherapy @rossholesaaays