We are not defined by gender and sexuality
LGBTIQIA+ wellbeing encompasses the full range of experiences and complexities shared with all other people including gender, sex and sexuality. It is important to remember that no one is defined solely by sexuality or gender. We are all just our very unique and amazing selves. However gender, sex and sexuality are pretty complicated parts of our human experience that play a significant role in LGBTQIA+ wellbeing.
Gender and wellbeing
Although gender doesn't define us, working out whether we identify as male (including transgender men), female (including transgender women), non-binary, gender-fluid, genderqueer, agender or some other gender experience can at times feel overwhelming and contribute to stress, anxiety and depressed mood. Understanding and feeling comfortable about our gender contributes to a sense of self-acceptance, worth and mental wellbeing.
More LGBTIQ+ assistance
QLife provides anonymous and free LGBTIQ+ peer support and referral for people in Australia wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. https://qlife.org.au/
Freedom Centre helps support young people, families and whole communities to be healthy, happy and informed about diverse sexuality, sex and gender. Their volunteers and staff are all people who are also young, LGBTIQ+ and are trained to be able to give support and information to their peers. https://www.freedom.org.au/
Sexuality and wellbeing
Likewise, our sexuality doesn't define us and sexuality is not defined by whom we have sex with. Sexuality is about how we feel and how we choose to identify ourselves. The empowering thing to notice is that we can choose how we describe our sexuality (we can even choose what label feels comfortable or useful to describe our sexuality or choose no label at all and we can change our labels at any time).
Whether you use labels such as Heterosexual (attracted mostly to people of the opposite sex or gender); Homosexual (attracted mostly to people of the same sex or gender (gay if refers to guys, and often to girls, too or lesbian if referring to women); Bisexual+ (an inclusive term that describes being attracted to romantic and/or sexual partners of more than one gender or sex; Pansexual (generally describing attraction to all sexes or genders); Polysexual - "poly" means 'many" (attracted to romantic and sexual partners of many but not all genders, sexes or sexual identities; Asexual (not really sexually attracted to anyone); or ‘queer’ or ‘fluid’ as a way of expressing your personal attractions and feelings your mental health and wellbeing is important too.
Unfortunately, the struggle over who gets to determine how we name and express who we are and how we feel can result in all sorts of emotional distress for LGBTQIIA+ people and unfairly disadvantage them as they need to invest more time and energy managing mental health, keeping safe and fighting for equal status and resources. This is why I am committed to supporting LGBTQIA+ people to develop and maintain mental wellbeing and maximise opportunities to thrive in every area of life
Sources of gender and sexuality distress
In managing our mental health and wellbeing in relation to gender and sexuality it is important to notice the source of tension and conflict. Often we are quick to pay attention to internal forces of discomfort and conflict (negative and judgemental thoughts, painful memories, uncomfortable and scary feelings, powerful and sometimes overwhelming urges and sensations related to our gender and sexuality). These are all very important experiences to understand and explore.
However, it is very important that we also give adequate attention to uncomfortable and challenging external forces (family values, religious values, societal ideas and rules about gender and sexuality, organisational culture and relationship dynamics) that challenge, attack, pressure and impose on us in ways that destabilise our sense of belonging, safety, self-worth and our ability to enjoy life and relationships they way that works best for us.
Because gender and sexuality can be complicated and painful areas of our lives to discuss I am committed to sensitively helping you explore, grow and celebrate who you are, move towards being more fully the person you want to be, and learn how to be comfortable with yourself as a unique and wonderful human being.
LGBTQIA+ Elders, Activists & Leaders
I pay our respect to LGBTQIA+ Elders, Activities and Leaders who despite severe persecution, rejection and inequality helped a despised minority take its rightful place in society as full and equal citizens. I acknowledge the painful history of homophobia and violence toward queer people and the ongoing need to stand up for equality to ensure everyone has the same right to feel accepted, connected and proud. I stand in solidarity with the many LGBTQIA+ people across the world who continue to face persecution for simply being themselves. We are committed to sharing the courageous story of queer people to ensure the history of the LGBTQ civil rights movement is remembered, understood and valued by both allies and the general public.