On the Couch: Where Do I Start?
Dear Chris: I’ve just finished year 12 and I’m finally free from the homophobic culture of my school. I’ve come out to a couple of close friends over the last year and I came out to my Mum this year, too. She’s been great, but asked me not to tell my Dad, coz he’s pretty conservative and I’m his only son.
I need to start making friends who know what I’m going through. I have one school mate who is gay, but she’s moving to Victoria next month. I don’t like bars and clubs and don’t feel like I fit the gay stereotype. I really don’t know where to start. - S.L, Ashgrove
Well, S.L, you’ve been truly courageous and it sounds like quite a year. The coming out process never really ends, but perhaps the hardest steps are the first ones, so congratulations. You will know when the time feels right to share more openly with your father, if that is something you want to do.
Despite the images often presented by advertisers, promoters, and popular media ─ of airbrushed and highly sexualised gym-junkies ─ we are as diverse as any community and you don’t need to subscribe to a stereotype to be happy. The people who really matter in your life will love you for who you are.
Finding supportive and nurturing spaces to explore where you might fit, with other like-minded young people, can be a challenge. That’s why we are so lucky to have agencies like Open Doors Youth Service here in Brisbane supporting young people in exploring their sexuality and gender. Open Doors offers a range of services and cool projects, as well as an informal drop-in. This month is Open Doors’ 10th anniversary, so happy Birthday, guys! You’ll find more info at: www.opendoors.net.au
The Healthy Communities website (www.qahc.org.au) has a comprehensive directory of organisations and social groups, and the community listings in the back of Queensland Pride magazine are also a useful resource.
It’s sad to hear that school wasn’t a safe and supportive place for you to begin being honest about your sexuality. But it’s great to hear that you didn’t let it beat you and have emerged with the determination to move forward proactively and embrace your truth.
Chris Pye is a counsellor with the Rainbow Counselling Service, a GLBT community initiative of Relationships Australia & Healthy Communities (formerly QAHC).