How gay is Australia?
According to the 2003 “Sex in Australia” survey conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health, and Society (ARCHSHS), the largest and most thorough survey in Australia to date, 1.2 % of Australian adults nationwide identified themselves as homosexual.
Among these, 1.6% of men identified as gay and 0.9% as bisexual. 1.4% of women identified themselves as being lesbian and 0.8 as bisexual. 8.6% of men and 15.1% of women reported either feelings of same-sex attraction or same-sex sexual encounters, although half of these men and two-thirds of these women regarded themselves as heterosexual rather than homosexual.
A 2001 census indicated that 0.46% of all couples in Australia were same-sex couples.
In a recent Australian study of 1,500 gay and lesbian adolescents, 80% had not told their parents of their same-sex attraction. It is also estimated that out of approximately 19,000 homeless young people in Australia on any given night, between 5,000 and 6,250 of these are same-sex attracted. These statistics were published on GayFamilySupport.com.
Homosexuality and gender identity
Homosexuality is a sexual orientation towards persons of the same sex. Latent homosexuality refers to unconscious tendencies towards homosexuality that are not consciously felt or openly expressed. Homosexuals are generally categorised as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transsexual (GLBT).
Sexual orientation, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person. Sexual orientation differs from sexual behaviour in that it mainly refers to feelings and self-concept (the way a person views or sees himself/herself), which may or may not be expressed in corresponding sexual behaviour.
Gay, a word that traditionally means happy, is currently used to indicate male homosexuals although it is also often loosely used to describe anyone who is attracted to persons of the same sex whether male or female. The Dictionary of American Slang states that the word “gay” was used by homosexuals among themselves to describe their lifestyle since 1920.
However, it was publicly used to imply homosexuality in the late 1950s, specifically by journalists to depict well-known pianist Liberace in the media.
Lesbian is the usual term for female homosexuals. The term: lesbian” originated from the Greek island of Lesbos where in ancient times the women were said to be homosexual. Lesbians are sometimes referred to as “gay women”.
Bisexual refers to individuals who experience sexual, emotional, or affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Literally, the term “bisexual” means pertaining to both sexes.
Transsexual men and women are those who make or desire to make the transition from their original sex at birth to that of the opposite sex with some type of medical alteration. A transsexual person establishes a permanent identity with the gender that is opposite the one assigned to them at birth.
Gender identity is the psychological sense of oneself as being male or female. Homosexual men and women may or may not have issues regarding gender identity. A person attracted to those of his/her own sex may be perfectly comfortable with his/her own gender and body.
Gender identity disorder is a psychological condition that is diagnosed when a male or female identifies so strongly with the opposite sex that he/she experiences great discomfort regarding his/her anatomy.
People with this disorder tend to act and present themselves as members of the opposite sex and may express a desire to alter their own bodies. A woman feeling trapped in a man’s body and a man feeling trapped in a woman’s body are typical examples of this condition.
Gender identity disorder may be one matter that a homosexual male or female may be facing. It can be very isolating as it may be difficult for the individual’s family and friends to understand. Counselling can help an individual come to terms with this issue in a healthy and productive manner.
Discrimination within the community (homophobia/heterosexism)
Homophobia and heterosexism are two sides of the same coin.
Homophobia refers to a range of negative attitudes, feelings, and behaviour towards homosexuals.
Heterosexism, on the other hand, is a system or set of attitudes, biases, and discriminatory behaviour in favour of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships. It presumes that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the only norm and therefore superior to gay ones.
Both sets of attitudes, feelings, and behaviour usually mean harmful psychological, social, professional, and even physical consequences for gay people. The basic issue here is respect, or, rather, the lack of it towards the gay person.
Gay individuals are often denied many basic human rights by society when their sexual orientation is not recognised as being valid. This can lead to depression and anxiety.
A qualified professional counsellor can help gay people in these dire circumstances to counteract the negativity that threatens to drag them down. The right counsellor can help re-channel the negative emotions towards a positive outcome.
If you are looking for a counsellor or psychologist in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane or Adelaide, who deals with gay and lesbian issues, visit our gay and lesbian counselling page to search for a counsellor in your local area.