Sexuality can be confusing. Sometimes it can be more confusing if you find yourself attracted to someone who's the same sex as you. Being same-sex attracted (SSA) is normal, though. There are countless people who've been through the same experience, and there is a lot of help and advice out there.
What is Same-sex attraction?
People often describe themselves as homosexual, gay, queer, lesbian or SSA when they are physically, emotionally and sexually attracted to people of the same sex. People who are attracted to both men and women often describe themselves as bisexual.
Some people have SSA experiences and feelings as part of exploring their sexuality. However, for people who go on to identify as SSA, there is a strong physical and emotional attraction to the same sex.
There's still a lot of homophobia and disapproval in society, which can make things difficult. Just remember, there is nothing wrong with being SSA. It's not something to be "cured" or "fixed". It's just a form of sexuality that - unfortunately - some people find hard to understand.
How do I know if I'm SSA?
Sexuality is never black and white. It's up to you to decide where you fit in. What's important is that you explore it patiently in a way that makes you feel comfortable and safe.
There is a lot of information out there, including stories that other SSA people have shared about their own experiences. For more information, visit one of the websites listed under "Help and advice about same-sex attraction", below.
Remember that you don't have to deal with your questions or problems alone. If you're feeling concerned about anything to do with your sexuality, you can also contact the organisations listed below to speak to someone directly.
Once you feel sure about your sexuality, you may want to consider telling somebody about it. This is often called "coming out". Telling someone, like a close friend or your parents, can be an important step for people, but you should only do it when you feel comfortable and ready to.
Many SSA people have found support and understanding when they told their parents and friends. Others have not. People can react in unexpected ways, which is why it's important to think carefully about when to come out and who to come out to.
So why come out?
Some people find coming out an enormous relief because:
- they don't feel so isolated
- they feel accepted as themselves
- they don't have to conceal things or lie to people anymore
- relationships can be more honest and open
- they feel free and a lot happier.
If you need someone to talk to anonymously about coming out, you can contact:
- QLife (between 3pm and midnight daily) - call 1800 184 527 or chat live at QLife webchat
- Lifeline (24 hrs) - 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline (24 hrs) - 1800 55 1800.
Dealing with homophobia
Unfortunately, homophobia is still a problem in Australia.
If you are experiencing or have experienced harassment, discrimination or assault because of homophobia, you don't have to put up with it. Remember - nobody deserves violence or harassment.
Being harassed or being afraid someone will give you a hard time can be stressful. You don't need to deal with it on your own. Here are some ways to deal with harassment:
- tell friends you trust
- report the harassment to someone in authority (for example, a teacher, your boss, your parents, the police)
- call a counselling service (see "Help and advice about same-sex attraction", below).
For more about dealing with discrimination and harassment, check out our Discrimination and harassment page.
Help, services and advice about same-sex attraction
The following organisations offer information, counselling and confidential advice. If you or someone you know is LGBTI and needs support, help is available ... you are not alone.
Mental health services
A range of services is available specifically for LGBTI Victorians needing mental health support, and their families and friends. These include mental health counselling, resources and peer support activities.
Key providers of LGBTI mental health services in Victoria include:
- drummond street services – including Queerspace mental health and wellbeing services delivered by specialist queer and queer affirmative mental health practitioners
- Thorne Harbour – confidential, non-judgmental, counselling for members of the LGBTI community
- Switchboard Tel. (03) 9663 6733 – a peer based, volunteer-run support service for LGBTQI people and their friends, families and allies
Other mental health services provide help and support for all Victorians:
- headspace Tel. 1800 650 890 – a youth mental health foundation that helps young people aged 12–25 years who are going through a tough time
- beyondblue and youthbeyondblue (Tel. 1300 22 4636) provide free online and telephone helplines for people experiencing depression, anxiety or other mental health issues.You can talk to trained mental health professionals who can give you support and advice
- ReachOut is an online mental health service for young people. It provides practical support to help young people manage any issues they might face, from everyday struggles to much tougher situations
- Kids Helpline (Tel. 1800 55 1800) is a 24-hour telephone service that is available for young people (aged between five and 25) who need advice, counselling or just someone to talk to – no problem is too big or too small
- Lifeline (Tel. 13 11 14) is an anonymous and confidential 24-hour crisis support line. You can call Lifeline to discuss all types of personal difficulties, including thoughts of suicide, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Lifeline provides immediate support by phone, via online chat or face to face
- SuicideLine (Tel 1300 651 251) is a confidential 24-hour crisis support line available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can call SuicideLine if you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, or if you have been affected by suicide
- SANE Australia (Tel. 1800 18 7263) is a national organisation helping all Australians affected by mental illness to lead a better life – through support, training and education.
Peer support is about giving and receiving help in a respectful environment, with people who understand what you are experiencing because they have experienced it too. Peer support for LGBTI young people is available across Victoria.
To access LGBTI peer support services for young people in Victoria contact:
- Youth Affairs Council Victoria Tel (03) 9267 3799
- Minus18 – this national organisation for LGBTI youth provides peer support and mentoring to young LGBTI people wanting to make a change
- headspace Tel. 1800 650 890 – Qheadspace provides online peer support for young LGBTIQ+ people. It’s hosted by young people who identify as LGBTIQ+ and have experienced a mental health difficulty
- Ygender – is a peer-led support and advocacy organisation for trans and gender diverse young people.
- QLife - National counselling and referral service for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex - call 1800 184 527 or chat live between 3pm and midnight daily.