Student Life

Counselling and Personal Development

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Coming out

You may have known for some time that you are gay or lesbian, and that may have been very confusing. But now you feel it's time to tell someone else. Where do you start and how do you do it?

Sexuality

Your sexuality is complex and has many aspects including: gender, sensuality, eroticism, love, identity, orientation and social sex-role. These elements are not always in harmony. Your sexual sense of self grows over time and although important, is only one part of who you are.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Not everyone is 100% heterosexual all the time.
  • Not every woman who feels attracted to another woman is a lesbian.
  • Not every man who feels attracted to another man is gay.
  • The way other people see us may be quite different to how we feel on the inside.
  • Being queer, lesbian, gay, straight, transgender or whichever label we give ourselves usually reflects what we identify with, not necessarily who we have sex with.
  • Sexual preference is not something that is chosen.
  • The idea that a person can be 'recruited to' or 'catch' homosexuality by association is not supported by any scientific evidence.

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What is ‘Coming out’?

'Coming out' refers to the process of acknowledging your sexual identity and is part of accepting yourself for who you are. This acceptance may be helped by reading about other people's experiences. Later, you may choose to tell other gay/lesbian people, friends or family (this may be the hardest thing to do). How you do this is highly individual and you should do it at your own pace.

Some challenges

One of the challenges of being gay or lesbian is the sense of isolation that is commonly felt. This is because there are very few examples of ordinary people who are happily and successfully going about their lives and who happen to be gay or lesbian.

For people who are coming to terms with their sexuality, the lack of examples and the sometimes negative images presented by the media can be very confusing. Often, all we are shown are narrow, distorted stereotypes. It is not surprising then that a person experiencing same sex attraction, may also experience self-doubt, guilt, depression, lowered self-esteem and a sense of exclusion from others. As people broaden their network of lesbian or gay friends, they often feel that they are living in or between two worlds.

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Who to talk to?

If issues of sexuality are of concern to you, it is usually helpful to talk them over with someone you trust e.g. a friend, a counsellor, nurse or doctor. If you feel that they don't understand or can't help, try someone else; don't give up! Sometimes, it takes a while to locate someone suitable. There are also many excellent resources available on campus and in the community.

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Taking it further

Deakin website

External websites

Getting help

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15th September 2011