Gay Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Perth, Western Australia
Phone 0401 316 977
for enquiries or appointments
Gay & Lesbian Issues
"Life is not always easy being gay in a predominantly heterosexual society"
Despite the fact that a great deal of institutional oppression and discrimination has been eradicated over the last 50 years, this progress did not result in an instant change in social attitude. Current research suggests that many gay and lesbian people still experience some social discrimination, humiliation and hostility in several areas of their daily living. Incredibly, the World Health Organisation only removed homosexuality as a formal psychiatric diagnosis in 1992. Consequentially, for many gay and lesbian people, coming to terms with their sexual identity or disclosing their sexual preference is not an easy or straightforward process.
Gay relationship & social issues
Gay men and lesbians may access counselling services with a range of issues concerning forming and maintaining relationships, and these may involve concerns about intimacy, sexual activities and communication. Additional social stressors such as fear, secrecy or shame in response to discrimination, stigma and rejection are also common issues. An individual may also be struggling with grief concerning the end of a relationship. Furthermore, just like any other people, individuals who identify as gay or lesbian can be at risk of domestic violence, where abuse, control and misuse of power occurs within a relationship. All of these factors may adversely impact a person's mental health and wellbeing.
Types of relationships
Similar to heterosexual people, individuals who identify as gay or lesbian may choose to enter into intimate relationships that may or may not align with social norms:
Traditional long-term relationships that include monogamy.
Relationships with a range of features such as partners of differing ethnic backgrounds, partners older or younger than themselves, long-distant relationships or relationships where one person is a carer for their partner.
Open relationships where the primary couple creates an agreement that one or both partners may have intimate relationships with others.
Polyamorous relationships where a couple consent to having sexual or romantic relationships with more than one person at a time.
Important factors to consider in all of the above types of relationships are honesty, respect, communication, consent and valuing each person's wellbeing.
Mental health and sexual orientation
Gay men and lesbians may access counselling services with a range of mental health issues. They are a diverse group of individuals that have different sexual orientations, preferred identities, perspectives and life issues. They may experience great hardship concerning a lifetime of ongoing discrimination and social stigma because of cultural, religious and social norms. Consequentially they may become estranged from family and friends. Furthermore, constant exposure to negative messages about being gay may result in an individual involuntarily accepting and believing them, termed 'internalised homophobia'. These negative self-beliefs can have a devastating impact on a person's self-worth and wellbeing.
This harmful exposure, rather than sexual identity itself, may often result in people who identify as gay or lesbian experiencing higher rates of anxiety, depression, substance misuse, self-harm and suicidal ideation than those who identify as heterosexual.
Sexual identity labels
As with any identity, it's important for individuals to choose their own label. Also, the correct use and understanding of the language we use to describe others demonstrates respect and may be helpful towards making a positive contribution to other people's mental health and wellbeing.
The most commonly used labels are gay and lesbian. Gay mostly refers to males who are attracted to males. However, the term can also be used in relation to women who are attracted to other women, although many women prefer the term lesbian. The attraction may be sexual, romantic, affectionate or emotional.
Questioning is a term used by an individual who is unsure about or is exploring their own sexual orientation.
Queer is an umbrella term adopted by some within the LGBTI community, which includes lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, intersex persons, and many other sexually transgressive explorers. It is a reclaimed word that for decades was used solely as a derogatory term, and may, therefore, be considered by some gay and lesbian people as offensive when used by outsiders.
Homosexual is a traditional term used to describe an individual who is attracted to people of the same sex. This term is considered stigmatising due to its history as a category of mental illness, the religious view that homosexuality is sinful and its historical use in criminal legislation.
Some people prefer to identify as heterosexual or bisexual as they are only occasionally attracted to the same gender. And, some individuals may not wish to label themselves at all.
Additional articles about gay issues
Find out more about a range of gay issues and how talking to a gay counsellor can help:
Gay Counselling Perth
If you are concerned about any aspect of your sexual orientation or need support with how best to work through any social or relationship pressures, please contact me to make an appointment. Talking to a counsellor is an effective way to manage and gain a better understanding of your struggles. I offer a space that is warm and welcoming of gender, sexual and relationship diversity.