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Coming Out

Being gay, lesbian or bisexual can be seen on a continuum from exclusive same sex attraction to exclusive opposite sex attraction.

If someone is a gay male or lesbian, they can have an intimate sexual and emotional relationship with a person the same sex.  Those who have attempted to change their orientation to become heterosexual are almost always unsuccessful. Self acceptance has been shown to be the healthiest path to take.

Others can be bisexual which means that they are able to have a deep intimate sexual and emotional relationship with someone of either gender.

They often find however that gays, lesbians and straight people often don’t believe they are actually bisexual and they can feel quite misunderstood and isolated. Moving towards a real acceptance and integration of a bisexual orientation and then working on ways to increase resilience can be a positive way forward.

There are people who are also gender diverse and many choose to transition to their non-assigned gender in order to live a life that is true to who they are. This is separate from sexual orientation and there is as much sexual orientation variation as non-transgender people.

Coming out as being gay, lesbian or bisexual is an important part of the journey of self acceptance. This doesn’t mean having to come out to absolutely everyone but it is certainly important to do this with those you feel close to. The research has demonstrated that those who don’t come out and pretend to be straight for long enough can develop psychological and physical problems.   Having what’s called a ‘concealable stigma’ (which means hiding who you really are) is very stressful and unhealthy. It is however important to make sure you are feeling somewhat accepting of your same sex orientation prior to telling people.

Overcoming the fear of coming out usually means having to face and overcome the fear of rejection and being perceived by others as disordered, sinful, wrong or sick.

Whilst many people such as parents and partners can often initially react in negative ways, for the most part, they adapt in time.   Once coming out, many people feel a great sense of relief even if the outcomes can be challenging for those around them.

Many people find that confidential counselling and support from a psychologist can make this challenging journey much easier.   Sometimes fear can mean you can avoid coming out for years which only delays living your life as a congruent person being able to openly express who you are and who you love and are attracted to those around you who you care about.

Coming out can be a process that goes on for years, so the most important thing is just to make a start through making an appointment with one of our psychologists or choose someone you feel close to who you feel will be the most understanding. Feel free to check out the Sexuality section of our page.

Annabelle Young | CFHP
Annabelle Young

Clinical Psychologist Annabelle Young has extensive experience in working with people with depression, anxiety (including panic), adjustment difficulties, stress, trauma, PTSD, bipolar disorder, low self-esteem, grief and loss, interpersonal difficulties, as well as alcohol and drug use issues.

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