Don McGaw moved to Boston in 1964 to attend Boston University School of
Theology. While at seminary he began his activism by choosing to focus on
religious and homosexuality. He found good support from the faculty and
most of the students there at the time. Although he was ordained in the
United Methodist Church, McGaw chose to go into clinical work because he
believed that was where he was called. He specialized in working with the
GLBT community because of repeated horror stories from persons going to straight
therapists with guilt-ridden results.
In 1968, while serving as an associate pastor, he started counseling--life coaching, actually--within
the GLBT community. That led to invitations to speak to the
various Student Homophile Leagues at the universities in Greater Boston. He was
put in touch with Richard Pillard, a young psychiatrist who was on the same
lecture circuit. McGaw met Pillard and discovered they had similar goals--to
provide a GLBT clinic for their community that offers empathic
counseling/therapy. A year later, they founded the Homophile Community Health
Service (HCHS). HCHS became the first state-licensed mental health clinic
focusing on GLBT issues. Within a short time, HCHS was accredited for field work
placement for psychiatric interns, psychology interns, social workers, and
pastoral counselor interns. McGaw became a teaching fellow in the Boston
Theological Institute. Many of Boston’s finest therapists can look back and say
they received their training at HCHS.
McGaw was also a pioneer in Affirmation, the United Methodist gay caucus. He
was appointed to the National Family Life Committee in Nashville by Bishop
Edward Carroll. McGaw's responsibility was to offer guidance in
formulating ministries to the families of GLBT persons and to educate the United
Methodist Board of Discipleship about GLBT issues. To this end McGaw helped
organize a national consultation on homosexuality with the Board at Rolling
Ridge. It was quite an event–one that McGaw recalls "I will not forget."
After leaving HCHS, McGaw started his own clinical practice as Mass Bay
Counseling Associates and has been involved there since 1976. He also served on
the Board of Directors of the Institute for Human Identity (New York City), as
well as Integrity (Boston), an interfaith GLBT religious education
organization. He also served as a staff writer on physchology and religion
for a United Methodist magazine, as well as a news magazine that started in the
1980's in Boston.
(This biographical statement provided by Don McGaw.)
Biography Date: September, 2004
United Methodist Church | Affirmation (United Methodist) | Clergy Activist | Boston | Massachusetts
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