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Rejected for your sexuality

Friday, 07 September 2012

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Gay men and lesbians who are rejected and unloved by their family and friends when they come out are ultimately stronger for the experience a new study by ECU researchers has found.

In the first study of its kind to shed light on the resilience of gay men and lesbians, School of Psychology and Social Science PhD candidate Geoffrey Caratathis interviewed 11 gay men and 10 lesbians from Western Australia.

He now wants to expand the study to build a larger picture of the gay and lesbian experience and is calling for volunteers for his online survey, which focuses on resilience.

The initial study found a number of consistent experiences among participants, including:

  • Different forms of rejection – both obvious and subtle;
  • Relationship breakdowns with loved ones;
  • The realisation that family love comes with the condition of being straight; and
  • The importance of acceptance – both from self and from others.

“All the participants interviewed had common experiences,” Mr Caratathis said.

“One participant even reported drinking and cutting themselves, all because they were made to feel self-hatred.”

Other common psychological problems included anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicidal thinking and even suicide attempts.

But the results also highlighted that those who experienced rejection, and lived through psychological problems, came out the other side as stronger people.

“I found from my research that there’s no easy way to get through the rejection. The best recommendation from people was to turn to other gay men and lesbians to gain support and guidance.”

For many interviewed, the key to overcoming rejection was acceptance.

“I just accepted the fact that I was gay and that some people are going to hate me for it and some people aren’t going to care and some people are going to love me for it,” one participant said.

“And that is how it is.”

To participate in the next phase of the study email: eculgb@gmail.com.

For more information visit the ECU website

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