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Questions About Sexuality & Culture

About Sexuality

What does it mean to be same sex attracted?

It means just that! It means that you have intimate feelings and a sexual attraction for someone who is the same sex as you.

How do I know if I am same sex attracted?

Sometimes it’s not easy to tell if you are same sex attracted, especially when you come from a cultural background where it is never spoken about openly or recognised. Being same sex attracted though, generally means that you have feelings and a sexual attraction that extends beyond friendship, for someone who is the same sex as you. If you feel this way then it could be an indication that you are same sex attracted.

What causes a person to have same sex attracted feelings?

There are many theories on what causes us to have these feelings, for example: people can sometimes think that it’s only because someone else in your family is same-sex attracted, or that it’s the influence of your friends. Others may say that it’s because you’ve had bad experiences with the opposite sex, or because of social and media influences, but when it comes down to it, all you have to remember is that your feelings are yours, and you feel them because they are natural to you. There is nothing wrong with it, and you can absolutely live a normal life, feel the deepest love and be a productive member of society.

Is this a choice?

It is said that being same sex attracted is something we choose and something we realise about ourselves in our adolescent years. In some cases it may be something you are born with and have always known, or perhaps don’t realise until much later in life. Whatever the case, we can’t generalise. In some ways there is a choice, the choice lies in whether you want to act on your attractions or not. There is often not a choice to switch off the feelings and attractions you may be feeling for the same sex.

Can I become heterosexual (straight) if I really want it to?

You can certainly pretend not to have these feelings; you can also choose to hide it from your friends and family. You do not have to feel any pressure to admit to share anything with yourself or others if you are not ready. Just remember that we are not always fixed people, life is fluid, we can all change and grow to feel attracted to many different people, and sometimes they may be from the same sex or a different one.

What is bisexuality?

Bisexuality is when you are sexually attracted to both males and females. It is completely possible for some people to love and be attracted to a person for who they are, rather than just their gender. We have to keep an open mind, and respect everyone, even if they do not choose to live their life the way we think they should. Everyone has their own individual experiences and feelings and we should all learn to accept them in the same way we want to be accepted.

Are same sex attracted people mentally ill?

No! Despite what your family and communities might think – there is nothing wrong with being same sex attracted and you are not sick or mentally ill! What is sick is hurting people, abusing them, stuff like that. Having real feelings for someone is not. That is called attraction, lust or even love, which is not wrong, or sick, its part of life and is completely natural.

What is coming out?

Coming out is when you decide to reveal that you are same sex attracted, and this is done once you decide you’re ready. Coming out definitely has its advantages, it is a time when you are ready to live the life you want to live, and when you’re ready to publicly share your relationship and who you are. But it can also cause hurt and hardship for the individual coming out, especially when you belong to a strong cultural group or strict family who are non-accepting.

Do you have to come out?

Absolutely not, you do not have to come out and you should never be forced to do so either. It’s something you do when and only when you are completely ready. It may be something that you choose to never do and that’s ok too! There are often lots of pressures for same sex attracted people to come out, but you should never feel forced to do it if it makes you uncomfortable or will cause you too much hardship.

However, if you do decide to come out, a few things to remember about this whole process is that you have the right to live the life you want to live, and share your life publicly with the person you love. Sometimes this is difficult and it could risk you losing the people you love and be judged by your community, but it can sometimes turn out better than you think. Someone out there does understand your situation, and closing some doors may open a whole bunch of new ones.

Will everyone react in the same way?

No, they will not – each situation is different, everyone has their own unique experience. There are some similarities in the way loved ones react based on culture, beliefs, religions, experiences and expectations. This is why we all need to find a way to accept that this is how we are and to learn to be happy with it, even though some people close to us may not feel that way initially. As we learn to accept ourselves, we can then teach our communities to do the same.

What support is out there for me?

At first it can feel like you are all alone, but this does not have to remain that way because there are definitely more people who share the same feelings out there. There are many same sex friendly services out there, which will not judge or disclose any information you do not want shared. It can be scary to reach out to these places and you may not feel like they’d understand your individual needs (based on our cultural differences) so that’s why UNIDOS has to come together as a support group for same sex attracted people from different cultural backgrounds.

About Culture

Is it harder for same sex attracted people who come from different cultural backgrounds?

It can be, because often our families and communities were brought up differently, and in many countries being same sex attracted is thought to be wrong. There is also the case of sexuality not being something that’s openly discussed in our parent’s earlier years, so they don’t actually know a lot about it!

Why is it sometimes easier for my white western Australian friends to be same sex attracted?

It is sometimes easier for them because in Australian culture, same sex attraction is more openly spoken about, there are many laws that protect their rights and safety and there is a lot more exposure, education and awareness than in many other cultures. It is quite common for there to be conflict of values and beliefs across different cultures, which can make being same sex attracted harder in one culture than it is in another.

Do I have to turn my back on culture to be same sex attracted?

You do not have to make a choice between your cultural values and beliefs or being same sex attracted, it is quite possible that you can embrace both equally in your life. Being same sex attracted is only one part of your identity and you do not have to take it on as being all of who you are. Sometimes it is hard to find a balance, especially when there are parts of your culture that do not agree or conflict with being same sex attracted; but with time and support, it is something that can be achievable.

Will I lose my family and community?

In some cases, this may be the outcome, but in some cases no, just make sure you remember that whatever the case, it is something that can always be worked on! There are many cases where things turn out better than anyone ever hoped. UNIDOS will always provide support to help you through these hard times and there will be people for you to talk to you.