living-depression-mental-healthA new theraputic group in Melbourne seeks to address internalised homophobia in the LGBTI community, helping people to manage the impact of negative messages about sexual, sex and gender diversity.

Run by the Victorian AIDS Council and Gay Men’s Health Centre (VAC/GMHC), the group FearLESS came out of the experiences of counsellors in the organisation, who saw many in the community struggling with this issue.

VAC/GMHC Manager of Positive Health Chris Barca told the Star Observer the problem stems in part from a lack of positive messages about sexual and gender diversity.

“We define internalised homophobia as basically a person who’s, through their sexual identity, taking on messages that are all heterosexually oriented,” she said.

“There’s a continuum, from quite anxious and depressed to some people who are quite suicidal about their experiences of homophobia in society, which is incredibly sad.”

The group is open to anybody, but Barca said most of the participants so far have been older men, often those who are questioning their sexual identity or are in the process of coming out.

FearLESS is one of a number of new theraputic programs from VAC/GMHC, including Re-Wired, an upcoming group on the experiences of gay men who use methamphetamines and have depression.

Visit www.vicaids.asn.au or call 9865 6700 between 2–4pm Monday–Friday for more information.

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