Sexual Orientation & Coming Out

By Dr Ruth McNair. Updated 13th October 2014

Sexual orientation is term that includes many aspects including sexual attraction (who a person is sexually attracted to), sexual behaviour (who a person has sex with), and sexual identity (which label and/or community a person identifies with, be that lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, heterosexual or other labels). All variations of sexual orientation are normal and should not to be regarded as forms of illness, pathology or immorality.

Many people have a slowly growing awareness of their same sex attractions. This often occurs during adolescence, however can occur at any age. Identifying as lesbian or bisexual may or may not follow. Attraction, behaviour and identity may completely overlap for some women, for example when a woman is attracted to women, has sex exclusively with women and identifies as lesbian or gay. However, for many women, these dimensions do not completely overlap, for example when a woman is attracted to women only, has a male sexual partner and identifies as heterosexual. Another woman may be attracted to both women and men, have only female sexual partners and identify as bisexual. This can change over time for different women.

Knowing when, where and how to come out as same sex attracted woman is important. Some women find coming out easy and others need support and help to deal with negative attitudes. It can be very useful to discuss these issues with a sensitive health care provider.

A helpful book:

Shale, E (editor). Inside Out: and Australian collection of coming out stories. Bookman Press, Melbourne, 1999.

Resources and groups:

SwitchBoard Victoria

Switchboard offers support to the gender diverse, sex diverse and same sex attracted communities, and their supporters, through our telephone and web counselling services.

Lesbian Open House

An informal discussion and support group for women of any age in Melbourne.

The Rainbow Network

Provides connection to several same-sex attracted and gender diverse youth groups in Victoria, providing a list of groups, resources and other information:

Way Out

Based at Cobaw Community Health, is a state wide suicide prevention program that targets same sex attracted, bisexual and transgender young people in rural Victoria

Minus 18
Alcohol and drug free events and support for SSAGQ young people under 18 years old