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Info Pages

Coming Out

What does ‘Coming Out’ mean?

Coming out can mean something different to everyone. Coming out to yourself has to do with developing awareness that you are LGBTQ. Some people know how they identify from a very early age, for others it can take time and other people might never find a label that quite fits them. This is all okay!  

Coming out to others involves disclosing your LGBTIQ identity. Coming out to others may be an ongoing process throughout life; though when it’s talked about, for example, as “when did you come out?” it refers to when you first disclosed your LGBTIQ identity to significant family and friends. Some people choose to come out only to specific people in their life.

 

Is it a difficult thing to do?

For some people this can be a very difficult process, for other people it’s not difficult at all, and for many people it’s a mixture of both, with great experiences and not-so-great experiences together. It is important to consider a few things to prepare you before you decide to come out to the people in your life. 

 

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Coming Out

Here are some questions to ask yourself before coming out. We recommend you think about these in regards to your own personal circumstances – everyone and everyone’s family and friends are different so only use this info if you think it will work for you. Take time to think about this;

 

  1.  How sure are you about your sexuality and gender identity?

“Are you sure?” is one of the most common questions you will be asked. It’s OK if you aren’t sure, but you might need to answer the question with confidence. Tell them if you are sure. Tell them if you aren’t 100% sure, but assert that you can’t ignore the feelings you are having and your right to identify however feels right to youAnother question often asked is “how do you know?” –how do straight people know that they are heterosexual? How do cisgender people know that they are cisgender? It’s just how you feel and who you are. It’s important to be honest about that if you are ready to be and won’t be put in an unsafe situation if you are.

  1. How comfortable are you with your sexuality or gender identity?

If you are having feelings of guilt or depression, seek some help in understanding those feelings before coming out to loved ones. Check out the website’s links page  here.

 

  3. Do you have support?

If your family’s or friends’ reaction may not make you feel good, you need to find someone or a group that you can turn to for emotional support and strength. Support can also be found at the links section on this website here.

  1. Are you knowledgeable about issues relating to LGBTIQ people?

Many people’s responses will be based on stereotypes and myths to do with the LGBTIQ community. Reading up on the subject will mean you can more confidently respond to any questions your family or friends may have. Check out our Links, Glossary, FAQs and the rest of this Info section.

 

  1. Do you have available resources?

A resource that provides advice for families of young LGBTIQ people is Families Like Minelocated here: http://familieslikemine.beyondblue.org.au/It can also be useful to have the details for where they can get support if they want it:

  • QLife Australia’s LGBTI telephone counselling and info service for LGBTI people and their families and supporters (call 1800184527 or online chat at https://qlife.org.au/#contact

  • your local PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians And Gays) (http://www.pflagwa.org.au/)

You can also look at RAD Australia (radaustralia.org.au) for info on local LGBTIQ-friendly counsellors. 

  1. Can you be patient?

People often need time to deal with and process this sort of thing if they don’t expect it. Just as it can take time for us to accept our own sexuality and/or gender identity, it can take our loved ones time to accept and understand our diverse sexuality and/or gender. If/when you decide to tell someone close to you be prepared to give them time to adjust and comprehend this new information about you. Try to hang in there while they get over any initial shock of finding out they didn’t know everything about you.

If you have the choice for when to come out, consider the timing. Try not to tell people during an argument or use your news as a weapon for shock value. This will only distance people and catch them during an aggressive and/or defensive moment.

 

  1. Are you financially dependent on the people you want to tell?

If you suspect they are capable of withdrawing any financial support or forcing you out of where you live, you may choose to wait until they do not have this pressure to hold over you. You need to think about the advantages and disadvantages.

 

  1. Is it your decision to tell someone?

Yes it is! This is a personal decision that should be yours, though unfortunately this is not always the case. Try not to feel pressured by people who think everyone must come out or by snooping people who ask unwelcome questions.

 

Suggested Do’s and Don’ts of Coming Out

Coming out to family and friends is rarely easy, so planning your strategy in advance can make things go much more smoothly. Remember that your fears and their fears will trigger reactions so stay cool and take things easy. The following are some suggested "do's" and "don'ts" from some counsellors and researchers. Good luck!

 

Suggested Do's:

  • The time you have decided on for disclosure should have its own place and setting free of all other distractions.

  • Try to choose a time when things are going well in the family or with your friends.

  • Figure out how you feel about being LGBTIQ perhaps talk it over with another LGBTIQ person first. This will make it easier to be clear and honest.

  • Get a realistic fix on your relationship with your family/friends; clarify what you need from them.

  • Actively prepare for your disclosure. Try role-playing the exchange or interactions with friends.

  • Consider questions that might arise. Also be prepared to answer other questions. Read and be aware.

  • Remember that family/friends might not know anything about being LGBTIQ.

  • Prepare your family/friends by saying something like "I want to talk to you about something that's really important to all of us…” Be positive and assertive (not aggressive!).

  • Make the disclosure of where you are at in as positive a way as possible… stay clear of shock tactics.

  • Let your family/friends know you are willing to give them time to adjust… there is plenty of time.

  • Follow up the initial disclosure by providing reading materials (the Families like mine resource, info from PFLAG or books) on the subject. Don't expect them to read the information straight away.

  • Hope for the best and prepare for the worst scenario. If you can face the worst the rest will be easy.

  • If things go badly at first, remember that it won’t be like that forever. Things generally get better with time.

 

Suggested Don'ts:

  • Don't try to come out when something else important is going on - weddings, funerals, birthdays, Christmas etc.

  • Don't over-sensationalise the news for shock or attention seeking value - it doesn't work at all! 

  • Don't come out to your family/friends if you're angry with them and disclosing your sexuality would be a way of punishing them.

  • Don't expect others to see it the way you do…even if you explain your LGBTIQ identity carefully and positively, your family/friends may not jump for joy!

  • Don't try to force more information on your family/friends than they are ready for at any given time. This will only confuse and frustrate them.

  • Don't hang around if their response is abusive or put-downs…leave as soon as possible without causing a 'scene' and catch up with a friend who you might have organised beforehand to be ready for debriefing just in case. You can also phone the QLife counselling line (1800 184 527 3pm – 12am every day) or chat online at https://qlife.org.au/ and talk it over.

You could also check out the following places for more info on coming out;

Gay & Lesbian Health Victoria has heaps of info on coming out at: http://www.glhv.org.au/library?topic=41&target_audience=All&keys

 

ReachOut has info on coming out here: http://au.reachout.com/coming-out

 

Coming Out Australia has info on coming out at: http://comingout.online/services/

 

The SimplyTrans’ booklet also has a section on coming out (p.8) for gender diverse people: http://www.livingproud.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Simply_Trans.pdf

 

Sexuality

Our sexuality is that part of us that expressed through our sexual activities and relationships. It is represented in our feelings, behaviours and our sexual identity. A person’s sexuality can be homosexual, heterosexual, pansexual, bisexual. A person’s sexual identity is how they choose to describe their sexuality. They may choose a label like gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, queer, or many others. Many people also choose not to label their sexuality. Everyone expresses their sexuality differently with various levels of diversity. Many people’s sexuality and sexual identity may change at different times of their lives.

 

Read more: Sexuality

Gender Diversity

“Gender refers to the economic, social and cultural attributes and opportunities associated with being male or female.”
Source: Transforming health systems: gender and rights in reproductive health. WHO, 2001.

 

A person’s gender is how a person, thinks, acts, dresses and speaks which distinguishes them as masculine or feminine. It’s the sociological construction of one’s maleness or femaleness. A person’s gender can be masculine, feminine, both and/or androgynous. Everyone expresses their gender differently with various levels of diversity or deviance from society’s expectations.

Read more: Gender Diversity

Identity

Identity

Our identity is our sense of ourselves, who we are, and our character, culture, values, lifestyle and personality. Significant parts of our individual identity are our sexual identity and our gender identity. Our sexual identity is our sense of ourselves in regards to our sexuality, sexual behaviours, feelings & fantasies, and beliefs & values about sexuality or lack thereof. Our gender identity is our gender, gender role, and our beliefs and values about gender. Being same gender attracted or gender diverse can mean that our sexual & gender identities are especially significant. When a part of your identity is marginalised and stigmatised in society it can sometimes feel like it’s a bad part of us. But while it can be challenging, we are not bad or inferior. Being a bit different can make you a stronger, and a more caring, respectful and open-minded person which are fantastic qualities to have!

 

Things to Remember

  • It takes time to know who you are and being confused is a normal part of figuring it all out

  • Trust your feelings and talk about them with someone you trust

  • It’s OK to be yourself -however that feels right

  • Feeling attracted to the same gender is as natural as being attracted to the opposite gender. Feeling confused about your gender or like you were assigned the wrong gender at birth is ok too. You are not alone; there are plenty of others who feel similar feelings to what you’re feeling.

  • Being different can be hard, but it can be more interesting and fun too!

  • Support is out there.


Contact FC or check out our Mental Health and Support info pages for lists of places you can get support from if things are too confusing or difficult to deal with on your own.

 

Sexuality

Our sexuality is that part of us that expressed through our sexual and/or romantic activities and relationships. It is represented in our feelings, behaviours and our sexual identity. A person’s sexual identity is how they choose to describe their sexuality. They may choose a label like gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, queer, asexual or many others. Many people also choose not to label their sexuality. Everyone expresses their sexuality differently with various levels of diversity. Many people’s sexuality and sexual identity may change at different times of their lives.

 

“Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.”

 

Source: World Health Organization (WHO) Draft working definition, October 2002

 

Sexual diversity comes in many forms. Everyone is different in how they choose to express their sexuality. More and more these days, people will not define their sexuality with a label, but choose to ‘take it as it comes’ or ‘do what feels right at the time’, trusting their feelings and not letting labels determine their choicesMany people feel a label or name for their sexuality is useful in describing themselves to other people, others don’t. The important thing is to do whatever feels right for you (so long as no-one will be unsafe or at risk) and identify however feels comfortable for you. It’s OK to take your time figuring out what does feel right for you too. It’s OK to be unsure and it’s normal to be confused while you’re figuring things out.

 

FBI Model

It can be helpful to think about sexuality in several aspects that are on a continuum or in shades of grey; Feelings/Fantasies, Behaviour, and Identity. Our feelings/fantasies include who we fall in love with, who we are attracted to, who we think about when we are aroused and who we intimately connect with. Our behaviours include sex, flirting, who we date and have relationships with. Identity is the label or name we use to describe our sexuality. At FC we use a model to make it simpler to understand;

 

                 Feelings/Fantasies

Same gender ------------------------------------- opposite gender

              Behaviour

Same gender-------------------------------------  opposite gender

                 Identity

Gay/Lesbian -------------------------------------  Straight

queer/pansexual/bisexual


 

Everyone can be at a different part of each continuum in the FBI Model, and this can also change at different times of people's lives. Here's an example;

 

Nicky has a boyfriend who she's been with for 6 months. She loves him but has started to become attracted more to girls. She's been fantasizing about both her boyfriend and some of the girls she's been attracted to. Nicky has started to identify as bisexual but doesn't want to break up with her boyfriend.


 

              Nicky's Feelings/Fantasies

Same gender <------------------X-------------------> opposite gender

            Nicky's Behaviour

Same gender  <------------------------------------X-> opposite gender

              Nicky's Identity

Gay/Lesbian <---------------------X------------------> Straight

  Queer/pansexual/bisexual


 

Five years later Nicky has had a couple more boyfriends and two girlfriends and is now with Jacquie. They have been together for a year and are about to move in together. She still fantasizes about guys and girls that's she's attracted to and now prefers to call herself queer.


 

            Nicky's Feelings/Fantasies

samegender <--------------X-----------------------> opposite gender

            Nicky's Behaviour

Samegender <-X------------------------------------> opposite gender

Nicky's Identity

Gay/Lesbian <-------X--------------------------------> Straight

Queer/pansexual/bisexual


 

Not everyone's positions on the continuums change in their life and many people are at similar sides or parts of all three continuums, but many people change and are different too.

Sexual health is also an important part of our sexuality. The World Health Organisation’s draft working definition is; “Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.” See our sexual health info page for more about it.

 

When you’re same gender attracted it can be harder to find the information and support to ensure our sexual health is at its best. Especially when parts of our society may not seem to have a positive and respectful approach to our sexuality and when laws, social norms and/or cultures may prevent all of our sexual rights from being respected, protected and fulfilled. This is why it’s even more important to link in with places that can help us maintain our sexual health, such as LGBTIQ-friendly sexual health services and information services. We can do things like getting accurate information, having safe sex and going for regular sexual health checks. See our sexual health info sheet and Safe Sex No Regrets documen or Sexual Health Quarters website (http://www.shq.org.au) for more info on sexuality and sexual health.

 

The following resources may also be interesting for you to check out;

 

Gender Diversity

A person’s gender (or lack thereof) can include how a person, thinks, acts, dresses and speaks.A person’s gender can be masculine, feminine, both, androgynous, neutral and many other combinations. A person’s gender identity can be fluid or static and can vary in strength. Everyone expresses their gender differently with various levels of diversity or deviance from society’s expectations.

 

Gender diversity comes in all forms; from a transitioned man or woman, to a person who just doesn’t fit their gender role stereotype because of how they dress or act. By simply being attracted to the same gender we are breaking our gender stereotypes and expectations, but this can be far more accepted and visible in society than what the trans community experience. The trans community are too often forgotten in the LGBTIQ community (not to mention in the rest of society!), but at Freedom Centre we know that being trans or gender diverse is not easy so support and information are really needed.

 

Within the trans community there is a colourful variety of gender identities and expressions. Some trans people will choose not to undergo surgery and hormone therapy, while many will only have hormones and/or top surgery (for example a bilateral mastectomy or breast enhancements) and others will undergo many different surgeries and therapies. People can undergo vocal training, and various surgeries (including phalloplasty, metaoidioplasty, vaginoplasty, labiaplasty, orchidectomy, facial reconstruction, hysterectomy). Many people will change their name too. For some people, hormones and/or surgery are not necessary for them to express their gender identity and for others these things may not be accessible.

 

What’s most important is that you do what feels right for you; not what others tell you is or isn’t OK. We often feel the pressures of society to either be male OR female, but it’s OK if you have characteristics of both or neither. Many people have both or neither masculine AND feminine traits, but we are taught to believe that we can only be one or the other. When you hear these sorts of messages and don’t feel you fit into them, it can be easy to think that you are not OK and that you are the only one that feels like that. But there are many people, especially in the LGBTIQ community who do not fit gender expectations in all sorts of ways, and there are many people who have transitioned and lead happy lives in their true gender.

 

At Freedom Centre, while people who are gender diverse are welcomed and appreciated in any session, we have a monthly session just for gender diverse, trans or genderqueer young people to come and hang out, be themselves in a safe space and talk about all things genderqueer! It’s called GenderQ; 1st Thursday of every month 5pm – 8pm at the Freedom Centre, 93 Brisbane Street, Perth 6000.

 

Intersex

Intersex people can have the same range of identities, including for sexual or gender diversity, as anyone. Many intersex peopleidentify as heterosexual, men, women and/or any range of other sexual and gender identities.For some people, intersex is part of their identity, while for others it is not an identity, but a bodily difference.

Mental Health

Mental Health is a term that broadly describes our mental wellbeing. It’s about our state of mind, and also our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. It’s also about our relationship with the outside world, with other people, and with society. It’s also about how we think about and relate to our selves, and participate in society.

Read more: Mental Health

Support - Where to go and who to talk to...

Support - Where to go and who to talk to

When things are difficult to deal with on your own it’s important to get support. You may have people in your life that you already do or can get support from. Sometimes that’s enough and other times we need more than that. Sometimes just having someone like a friend or family member listen to how we’re feeling is all we need to feel better. Other times a professional’s knowledge can help us figure out how to deal with things that are trickier.

 

Remember that there are heaps of different places you can get support. Support can come in all different forms, and sometimes we have to try a few different kinds to find something that suits your individual needs or situation. FC Staff are there to help you find the best services for your needs too so if you're unsure email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you are at risk call one of the 24hr lines below or in an emergency call 000. If you're outside of Western Australia go to https://qlife.org.au/ or the FC Links Directory to find the LGBTIQ services & info near you.

 

Needing support right now? Try some of the following 24 hour phone services

 

The Samaritans Youthline

1800 198 313

 

Kids Helpline

1800 551 800

Also offers online counselling. Go to http://www.kidshelpline.com.au/ for more.

 

Lifeline

13 11 14

Crisis Care

Metro Ph: 08 9223 1111 (24hrs)

Country callers Ph: 1800 199 008 (24hrs)

 

Youth Beyond Blue

1300 224636

https://www.youthbeyondblue.com/

 

Here are some places that offer LGBTIQ and youth friendly support services

 

RAD Australia

https://www.radaustralia.org.au/

RAD Australia is a website that can be used to search for local LGBTIQ-friendly support services

 

Ph: 1800 184 527 (5:30-10:30pm 7days)

National/ IM chat: qlife.org.au 

 

Ph: 08 9482 0000 (no clients under 16 years old)

http://www.waaids.com/living-well-with-hiv/counseling.html

Specialises in diverse sexuality & gender counselling

 

Free youth health service for counselling and other health issues. 

headspace.org.au

Online support at https://www.eheadspace.org.au/

1800 650 890 

Osborne Park - 08 9208 9555

Fremantle - 08 9335 6333

Joondalup - 08 9301 8900

Midland - 08 9274 8860

Rockingham - 08 6595 8888

Armadale - 08 9393 0300

Albany - 08 9842 9871

Broome, Kimberley - 08 9193 6222

Bunbury - 08 9729 6800

Kalgoorlie - 08 9021 5599

 

YouthLink

Free and confidential counselling services

 

Ph: 08 6266 4333

Free youth counselling and other support services.

 

Sexual Health Quarters

http://shq.org.au/service/counselling/   

Ph: 08 9227 6177

Counselling and Sexual Health Testing

 

http://ymcawa.org.au/youth/support/y-counselling.html 

Ph: 08 9328 3522

Counselling and support to young people aged 12-25 years and families

 

Accommodation & youth support:

 

Anglicare Youth Services

Ph: 08 9325 7033

Including a range of Accommodation and Support Services like StreetConnect, Y-Shac and YES! Housing.

 

Foyer on Oxford

Ph1800 185 685

http://www.foyeroxford.org.au/

Provides young people with fully self-contained transitional housing for up to two years, combined with personalised social supports & opportunities to access employment, education & training.

 

Perth Inner City Youth Services (PICYS
Ph08 9388 2791

Offer medium to long term externally supported accommodation, outreach and youth consultancy.

 

Passages Resource Centre

passagesresourcecentre.com

Northbridge Ph08 9228 1478

PEEL Ph08 9388 2791

For info, breakfast club, kitchen, bathroom & laundry facilities, computer & Internet access, phone & mail collection, referrals, life skills programs, and info workshops.

 

Other support services

 

Alcohol & Drug Information Service (ADIS)
Ph: 08 9442 5000 / 1800 198 024 (Toll free 24hrs)

Statewide confidential service providing info, counselling, advice & referrals for anyone in relation to drug and alcohol use (their own or another’s).

 

Sexual Health Helpline
Ph: 089227 6178 
Country callers: 1800 198 205 (Monday and Tuesday 8:30am– 5:00pm, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 8:30am - 4:00pm)

http://shq.org.au/services/sexual-health-helpline/

Info and referrals about sexual health.

 

Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC)
Ph: 08 9340 1820 (office) 
Crisis Line – 08 9340 1828 (24hrs. Country callers – 1800 199 888)

 

Mental Health

Mental health is a term that broadly describes our mental wellbeing. It’s about our state of mind, and also our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. It’s also about our relationship with the outside world, with other people, and with society. It’s also about how we think about and relate to ourselves, and participate in society.

 

“Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

 

“Mental Health refers to a broad array of activities directly or indirectly related to the mental well-being component included in the WHO's definition of health: "A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease". It is related to the promotion of well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, and the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by mental disorders.”

 

Source: World Health Organisation’s Draft working definition

 

Research has shown that young people who are same gender attracted or gender diverse are more likely to experience mental health issues. This is not because we are bad, but because we experience marginalisation and stigmatisation in society, which can make it harder for us to cope with everything in our lives. It’s important to remember a few things;

 

  • LGBTIQ or being confused about your sexuality or gender doesn’t mean you have a mental illness. Feeling attracted to the same gender is as natural as being attracted to the opposite genderFeeling confused about your gender or like your gender is not what others expect. You are not alone; there are plenty of others who feel similar feelings to what you’re feeling.

  • Everyone deserves to be treated with RESPECT by others. It is not okay for people to call you names, or tease you, or make you feel unsafe

  • It can take time to know who you are and being confused is a normal part of figuring it all out

  • It’s OK to be yourself – whoever that is

  • Trust your feelings and talk to someone you trust about them

  • Being different can be hard, but it can be more interesting and fun too!

  • Support is out there.


To find out more about Mental Health and services available check out these links

 

Reach Out at

Lifeline service seekerat

https://lifeline.serviceseeker.com.au/ 

13 11 14

 

Youth Beyond Blue (Ybblue)

Check out the Facts sheets about depression, bullying, suicide, and other mental health related stuff by clicking here.

 

Its Alllright

http://www.itsallright.org

1800 18 SANE (7263) (9:00am-5:00pm weekdays

Mental Health & What to look out for

If things get overwhelming it is important to know about what to look for in our mental wellbeing and know where you can go if things start to go a bit off track. Here are some of the things to look for:

 

Depression

Depression refers to changes to our mood and interest in doing our usual activities. People who experience depression usually say they notice some of the following:

  • Feeling sad, crying, feeling unhappy a lot of the time, and losing interest in doing the things that you used to find enjoyable. Finding it hard to get motivated to do things any more.

  • Feeling angry and annoyed, irritable and fed up most of the time.

  • Feeling worthless, guilty and to blame for the way things are in life.

  • Having trouble concentrating.

  • Sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep or waking up, waking during the night and having trouble getting back to sleep, or sleeping too much.

  • Changes to usual appetite.

  • Thoughts of hurting yourself.

Most people have some time in their life when the feel down in their mood, such as sad, lost, hurt, or alone. But if these or any of the things listed above last for longer than 2 weeks it may mean that you are experiencing depression. You can get help to overcome depression from the above-mentioned LGBTIQ friendly services.

 

Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural emotion we all have when we are faced with danger or a threatening situation or event. Working out who you are and possibly dealing with discrimination and bullying can be pretty intense and scary stuff! This may trigger anxiety in some people.

People who experience anxiety describe having fears and worries about their safety and/or the safety of others. In some people these worries might be accompanied by different body sensations including shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, sweating, hot and cold flushes, dizziness, tingling sensations in arms and legs, “butterflies” in the stomach, dryness of mouth, light-headedness and surreal feelings.

Because of this people with anxiety may choose not to go out and participate in the things they used to; choosing to stay away from the situations where these worries or sensations happen.

If you are experiencing any of the above, contact one of the services above or talk with your Doctor, school counsellor, parent, or someone you trust.

 

Self-care

Self-care can be a really important part of maintaining your emotional and mental well-being by helping you keep healthy, recharge and manage your healthSelf-care means intentionally taking time for yourself to do things that are relaxing and that help you unwind. 

For more information about self-care you can check out http://au.reachout.com/what-is-self-care

Sexual Health and Staying Safe

Sexual Health and Staying Safe

Sexual health is about having a healthy sense of your sexuality, having healthy sexual and reproductive organs, and feeling good about your sexuality and sexual experiences. It can be hard to feel you have good sexual health when society doesn’t seem to have a positive and respectful approach to your sexuality and when laws, social norms and/or cultures prevent all of our sexual rights from being respected, protected and fulfilled. Unfortunately we can’t snap our fingers and change this (though there’s plenty you can do in your community and activism to promote this change). But this makes it even more important for us to maintain our sexual health to the best of our ability.

 

Consent 

Sexual consent is an important part in making sure that you and your partner/s arewilling, happy and informed. Non-consensual sexual activities are against the law. The age of consent in Western Australia is 16, regardless of your sexuality or gender identity. For more information about non-consensual sex, you can check out the youth Sexual Assault Resource Centre here.

 

Safe Sex

An important part of maintaining your sexual health is having safe sex. Safe sex is using condoms and water-based lubricants as well as a range of other things (eg. latex dams and gloves) you can do during sex to help reduce the risk of catching or passing on STIs or HIV.

  • Safer sex can help:

  • Prevent HIV

  • Prevent pregnancy

  • Prevent STIS

  • Sexual Health Testing

 

Everyone who’s sexually active needs to have regular sexual health tests. To find out about sexual health testing go to the Sexual Health Quarters Website (http://shq.org.au/) or M Clinic website (http://www.mclinic.org.au/) for info about the WA AIDS Council’s testing services.

 

If you’re in a trusting, monogamous relationship and want to have unprotected sex, make sure you and your partner have been tested and given the ‘all clear’ for STIs and have had a sexual health check up to know for sure if you are at risk of transmitting STIs.

 

Visit the Safe Sex No Regrets website www.safesexnoregrets.com.au for heaps of great info on keeping you and your sexual partners safe from STIs and BBVs (blood borne viruses, for example hepatitis and HIV). Also see the Sexual Health Quarters (http://shq.org.au/) website for more info on sexuality and sexual health.

 

The following info & resources may also be interesting and useful for you to check out;

The WA AIDS Council’s website (www.waaids.com)for info about their services such as sexual health testing, LGBTIQQ friendly counselling, sexual health education & trainings, HIV/AIDS Facts talks, and Peer Support services for men who have sex with men.

 

Safer sex information for same-gender attracted people http://www.acon.org.au/what-we-are-here-for/sexual-health/

 

LaTrobe University’s publications on the LGBTI community, the trans community and young people .

 

“Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”

 

Source: World Health Organisation’s draft working definition

 

Relationships

Relationships can be in all forms, from romantic and/or sexual relationships to friendships and family relationships. Relationships can have a huge impact on us and our lives. They can impact our lives in all different ways; good, bad and confusing.

 

The best way to make sure you know what you want in a relationship is to get to know yourself first. Spend time thinking about what you want in life (right now and/or in the future) and from the people in your life. It’s important to respect yourself and expect the people you have relationships with to respect you. Respecting and understanding yourself will help you to get respect and understanding in your relationships.

 

Some people feel that friendship, closeness and love are the most important things they get out of an intimate relationship. Others feel that sex is most important.

 

Regardless of the type of relationship, it’s best to be open and honest with the people you have relationships with so you know what you want and expect from each other. Open and honest communication is an important part of a relationship. The most important thing is that you allfeel comfortable, stay safe and enjoy yourselves!

 

Relationship Tips
  • Talk to each other – just because you have a relationship, it doesn’t mean you automatically communicate well or can read your partners/ friends/ family member’s mind, or that they can read yours. Listen to each other and communicate your needs and wants.

  • Spend time together – make your relationship a priority and make time for each other.

  • Work on feeling good about yourself – this will help the way you feel about your relationships.

  • Everyone is different – accept and value differences in others, including your partners/friends/family member.

  • Be flexible – let your relationship grow and adapt with you as you change.

  • Make plans – set goals for your relationship and plan for your future when you are all ready.

  • Be supportive – try not to judge, criticise or blame each other; we are all human. Support your partners/friends/family member to be their best.

  • Learn from arguments – accept that arguments will happen and try to resolve them with respect. You’ll usually be able to learn something about each other, yourself and/or your relationship.

  • Be sexually considerate (in sexual relationships)– accept that individuals have different sex drives and feelings about sex. Remember that sustaining a healthy and happy sex life requires negotiation and compromise.

  • Be attentive – demonstrate your commitment to the relationship and think of how your partners/friends/family membersare feeling.

  • Enjoy yourself – have fun and celebrate your life together. Spoil each other and show them how you feel about them.

  • It’s better to talk it out early if you are having difficulties, rather than waiting for the situation to get worse. Sometimes how we feel doesn’t have to make sense, or is contradictory, but we need to get it off our chest and be honest about it anyway.

 

For more info on relationships go to;

Relationships

Relationships can be in all forms, from romantic and/or sexual relationships to friendships and family relationships. Relationships can have a huge impact on us and our lives. They can impact our lives in all different ways; good, bad and confusing.

Read more: Relationships

Find out what’s going on in our community and get involved?

Being same sex attracted, sex and/or gender diverse can make it harder to meet other who understand where you are coming from so it’s important to link in with the community for support, social networks, or to do your bit to help others in the community. There’s heaps out there!

Read more: Find out what’s going on in our community and get involved?

Online Safety

Online Safety

Online safety is really important these days as we spend more and more time using the internet. Here are some tips for keeping yourself safe when you’re online;

 

  • Meeting online friends in real life can be really dangerous. You never really know who they are; many people lie about themselves online and sometimes they are really dangerous people.

  • If you must meet someone that you know from online in real life, meet in a public place, bring a friend or family member that you trust and/or make sure your parents or friends know where you’re going and when you’re likely to return so they can be aware that you may be in a risky situation.

  • NEVER give out your address, school/workplace or phone number online.

  • Never give out personal information about you or your friends and family online.

  • If you receive or see something that makes you uncomfortable, STOP right away and tell a parent or friend that you trust.

  • NEVER give out your passwords or PIN numbers to anyone.

  • Don’t open emails, files, or web pages unless you know who they are from. They could contain viruses or spyware.

  • Don’t believe everything that you read or see on the internet. The freedom of information available on the net is great, but it can have its drawbacks; anyone can put any info on the net without it being true or accurate.

  • Sexting is considered a crime when any of the people involved are under 18 or if it involves harassment of people at any age. For more information about sexting and the law in WA you can check out this site: http://www.lawstuff.org.au/wa_law/topics/Sexting

 

 

For more info about online safety check these out;

 

For info /research about internet use by same gender attracted and gender diverse young people check this out;

 

Disability and Sexuality

Disability and Sexuality

Being same gender attracted, trans and/or gender diverse and having a disability can be hard. Our society has a history of denying that people who have disabilities have a sexuality at all (let alone diverse sexuality!) Many people still think this way and the result is a “double taboo” around sexuality and disability. Many people with disabilities can be denied choices and access to information about sexuality and sexual health, and gender identity and expression.

 

Fortunately there are places that value people with disabilities and their sexuality and gender.

 

Freedom Centre is an inclusive space that welcomes people of all abilities (and ethnicities, cultures, denominations, genders, and sexualities). We also recommend the following services and groups;

 

People 1st Programme (PIP)

Sexuality, relationships & personal safety education for people with intellectual disabilities. A project of Sexual Health Quarters, PIP offers one-to-one education, protective education programmes in schools and parent/carer consultations. Services are tailored to the needs of the individual. Check out their website at www.people1stprogramme.com.au or call (08) 9227 6414 to find out more.

 

SECCA (Sexuality Education Counselling & Consultancy Agency)

Provides counselling for people with a disability, their partners, carers and family around relationships and sexuality. Professional education and consultancy is also available covering sexuality and disability. Fees may apply. Check out their website at www.secca.org.au or call (08) 9420 7226 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

People With Disabilities WA (PWD)

PWD(WA) services include advocacy, information and referrals, community education and lobbying. Check out their website at pwdwa.org/  or call (08) 9485 8900 (Perth) or 1800 193 331 (Country) TTY (08) 9386 6451 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

For more info on sexuality and disability go to the websites for the above services or check out Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria.

Beyond Perth

Find out what’s going on in our community and get involved!

Being LGBTIQ+ can make it harder to meet others who understand where you are coming from so it’s important to link in with the community for support, social networks, or to do your bit to help others in the community. There’s heaps out there!

 

Many LGBTIQ organisations are reliant on volunteers (including Freedom Centre) to provide their services. Plus, doing something to help others can make you feel good about yourself and you can learn heaps while making a difference!

 

The best places to find out about what’s available in your local community are the local LGBTIQ organisations or the local LGBTIQ press. Most University Guilds also have a queer department too. 

QLife

QLife also operate around Australia, you can call them between 3:00pm and 12:00am on 1800 184 527 or go to www.qlife.com.au to chat online


Perth Community Groups

You can find heaps of different Perth-based LGBTIQ community groups here:


Perth Gaymers group
A social community group for geeks, gamers and allies no matter their gender or sexual orientation with weekly events. Find them on Facebook here.

Rural WA Community Groups

Living in rural and regional areas and being same sex attracted, sex and/or gender diverse can pose even more challenges, but support is out there!

 

Freedom Centre provides Info beyond Perth via email, phone, and our website and you can also get involved with the online FC Community by subscribing to our E-News or by checking out the FC Tumblr (fcyeah.tumblr.com).

 

Other places you might like to check out are: 

 

Bunbury Pride fest