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Mark O'Connell, L.C.S.W.
Mark O’Connell, L.C.S.W. is a New-York-City-based psychotherapist in private practice. He is the author of Modern Brides & Modern Grooms: A Guide to Planning Straight, Gay, and Other 21st Century Weddings, (Skyhorse,2014). He writes for,, and has been published in OUT Magazine,, dot 429 Magazine, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, and Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health. He presents his work across the country. For more information, visit

Entries by Mark O'Connell, L.C.S.W.

Don't Just Ask Bruce Jenner for Answers, Ask Yourself

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2015 | 4:04 PM

Last week Bruce Jenner came out as a transgender woman on the ABC news program 20/20, satisfying many inquiring minds. But more enlightening to me than the answers in that interview were the questions -- questions we should be directing more at ourselves than at Jenner.

Interviewer Diane...

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Celebration Planning Can Be Effective Therapy!

(0) Comments | Posted February 21, 2015 | 5:09 PM

Can planning a wedding be an effective and long-lasting couples therapy intervention?

Yes it can. But so, too, can planning milestone birthday parties be an effective bit of therapy for those who are single. I explained how while doing a guest radio spot on The Imago Relationships International Think Tank....

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Fail! A Tip for Valentine's Day

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 9:00 AM

No matter who you are or what your relationship status, Valentine's Day can be too much. We can all use a GPS to guide us through the wintery mix of roses,"be mine"-tarts, pre-fixe oysters, bubbles, bawbles, ridiculously over-sized boxes of chocolates, cheap-stuffed-fluff and the endless RED that gets projectile-vomited at...

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'Modern Brides and Modern Grooms': How Same-Sex Marriage Has Opened Doors for All of Us

(0) Comments | Posted February 9, 2015 | 1:51 PM

Marriage equality is already a reality across most of the United States, and I'm not just talking about the law. Now that 36 states have legalized same-sex marriage -- and one regressive appellate opinion has upheld bans against it in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee -- the U.S. Supreme Court...

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Into the White White Woods

(35) Comments | Posted December 24, 2014 | 8:52 AM

I can't wait to see Into the Woods with my family on Christmas Day. I've loved this Stephen Sondheim musical since I was twelve. And yet something about the lavish-looking film adaptation gives me pause: the all-star cast is all white. All. White.

Half of my family...

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Modern Marriage

(0) Comments | Posted December 11, 2014 | 4:24 PM

The following is the speech I gave at the Fall 2014 IHI Therapy Center gala, a Broadway cabaret celebrating Modern Love. In it I suggest a paradigm shift with regard to weddings and marriage and explain how the struggles that same sex couples have faced over the years, on the...

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A Fresh Take on Marriage: Excerpt from Modern Brides & Modern Grooms

(0) Comments | Posted November 29, 2014 | 11:17 AM

The following is an excerpt from my book Modern Brides & Modern Grooms: A Guide to Planning Straight, Gay, and Other Nontraditional, Weddings. The book is a wedding/marriage/relationship guide for anyone and everyone who faces the dilemma: How do I do things my own way, and stay connected...

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How My World Became the Real World

(0) Comments | Posted November 13, 2014 | 10:46 PM

Before my husband was on The Real World, we met in a realer world: the closet.

As bullied -- and consequently failed -- high-school students, we found each other as "refugees" on "The Island of Misfit Teens": an early-admissions college known as Simon's Rock. Project Runway's Nina Garcia would have...

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Hand-In-Hand: Marriage Equality and Gender Equality

(0) Comments | Posted September 17, 2014 | 4:37 PM

"Definitions of marriage are evolving," says Liza Monroy, author of the memoir The Marriage Act (Skullcross, 2014). Jenny, a newly-married friend of mine, recently observed that, "We're all rethinking how to celebrate marriage on our own terms." Two other female friends have told me, "I wasn't sure I...

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Playing in the Spaces

(0) Comments | Posted June 13, 2014 | 5:50 PM

In Harvey Fierstein's Tony-nominated play, Casa Valentina, men embody women. Or rather they reveal themselves through women's clothing, mannerisms and identities. Set in 1962 and based on real events at a Catskills resort, the story follows (self-identified) straight men who escape the constraints of their everyday lives through opposite gender...

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The Shakesepearean Art of Throwing Back Thursday

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2014 | 4:15 PM

I posted eight images for my first TBT (Throwback Thursday), a weekly social media ritual during which users "share" photos from the past. This Internet holiday provides a thin veil for the vain, arbitrary, impulse to post any old pic of one's own face. It's popular. But I myself had...

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'Don't Act, Don't Tell' Is in Effect

(0) Comments | Posted March 12, 2014 | 1:51 PM

"If they smell gay on you, it's over!"

So declared a prominent casting director to me in my acting days. She was referring to the flat rejection actors face if they "seem gay" at auditions -- a professional danger faced by all actors whenever they enter the room regardless of...

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IHI Therapy Center Wants You to Love Yourself

(0) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 11:24 AM

Olympia Dukakis is Armistead Maupin. Former NFL player Wade Davis is the writer Linda Villarosa. True Blood's Carrie Preston, 30 Rock's Maluik Pancholy, Game of Thrones' Pedro Pascal, Orange Is the New Black's Lea...

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Three Ways Marriage Is a Queer Choice

(3) Comments | Posted October 31, 2013 | 2:05 PM

"I don't" is a strong statement, more so than "I'd rather not" or "I'll pass for now." It's a position, not a preference. It's also a provocative title for an article about same-sex marriage, like The New York Times' Sunday piece "Gay Couples, Choosing to Say 'I Don't.'"

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The Right to Bare Breasts

(84) Comments | Posted October 18, 2013 | 3:38 PM

It's hot.

So take off all your clothes... or at least the ones you can legally lose in public. A shirt, perhaps? As long as you're not dining at the Four Seasons, go for it! Guys in New York City do it all the time! And gals? Well...

Last summer...

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The Many Mothers of Cinderella Boy: A Review of A Kid Like Jake

(2) Comments | Posted June 18, 2013 | 8:26 PM

What if Cinderella attended the wrong ball? What if she'd been asked to catch a ball (instead of dance) and was ridiculed when she refused? What if Cinderella were a 4-year-old boy named Jake whose parents desperately want him to get into an elite private school?

These are among the...

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She's So Trauma

(2) Comments | Posted June 6, 2013 | 5:53 PM

"Omigod, she's so drama!" his friends jeer at him, laughing.

The word "drama" goes off like an alarm; the punitive voices from his past ringing in his head: "Don't play like a girl, don't talk like a girl, don't act like a girl, don't cry like a girl, DON'T BE...

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Michael Douglas Liberates as Liberace

(38) Comments | Posted May 30, 2013 | 3:26 PM

Behind the Candelabra, Steven Soderberg's highly buzzed-about final bow, starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, Scott Thorson, has arrived on HBO, and it has made Douglas' father uncomfortable. In an interview with ABC, Douglas said, "My father was uncomfortable with--," before pausing. With...

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American Psycho(analysis)

(4) Comments | Posted May 23, 2013 | 12:32 PM

"Man up, dudes."

This was how American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis summarized, via Twitter, his recent op-ed for Whether reflecting a conscious decision or something less self-aware, the tweet helpfully and revealingly distills the gay writer's piece down to its basic intent: to split...

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Equality Crept Into the Wedding

(5) Comments | Posted April 26, 2013 | 6:37 PM

My brother-in-law's family of origin is two gay men -- my husband and I -- or at least that's how he portrayed us at his wedding.

Over the course of our 13 years together, my husband and I have often found ourselves the novelty "wild card" at weddings (including...

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