As members of the LGBTQIA+ community, we continually confront expectations others have of us. Some people simply do not want us to be queer, while others take the approach of “Be that way, but… don’t talk about it, don’t pursue your legal rights, don’t march down the street, don’t act queer”. These are messages of shame; messages that we interpret as “it’s not ok to be me”. We hear them throughout our lives, all too often when we are children, at an age when we are so easily influenced by the shame that others project onto us.
Our sexual script is biologically and socially constructed. It is comprised of learnt behaviour and heavily influenced by culture, religion, family, peers, media – all of which determine what are considered to be “acceptable” forms of sexuality. The same goes for relationships; the norm is changing in a time where many are questioning and challenging concepts such as monogamy, the labelling of sexuality, the definition of romantic/sexual relationship.
So much has changed in recent times for the better in terms of acceptance and progression, and we have the many courageous pioneers to thank who have fought, and continue to campaign for our basic human needs and rights. And yet so much remains the same. I work with a lot of men who are struggling to understand and come to terms with their sexual identity. The same themes come up time and time again – shame, not knowing where and how to “fit in”, feeling suicidal, fears of rejection and of losing everybody and everything around them.
My own lived experience as a cisgender gay man, alongside my professional training and experience allows me to work with a number of struggles that our community come up against. I work with issues around sex, intimacy, relationship, chemsex (the sexualised use of drugs).
‘One day we won’t have to come out of the closet, we’ll just say we’re in love and that’s all that will matter’