Rural same-sex attracted and transgender youth group WayOut has applauded long-running television soap Home and Away for including a lesbian relationship as part of the show.
WayOut project coordinator Sue Hackney said it was important for isolated youth to see examples of same-sex relationships on mainstream television.
A story in the Herald Sun last week sparked controversy among some religious and family groups when it revealed the Channel 7 series would feature a lesbian relationship in upcoming episodes.
The front page story reported the 5-week storyline revolves around two female residents of the fictional Summer Bay who fall in love.
-œSometimes the young people we are in contact with don’t have any visible examples of same-sex relationships in their local community, Hackney told Southern Star.
-œThe main messages they get are either that same-sex relationships don’t exist or they are not a normal part of society.
-œIt might sound simple but the fact of seeing a program like Home and Away include gay or lesbian couples can make a lot of difference for young people who are feeling alone and vulnerable.
Hackney said visible representations of same-sex relationships are particularly important in rural areas where feelings of isolation are often compounded by homophobic views and attitudes.
OUTthere Rural Victoria Youth Council for Sexual Diversity chairwoman Kat Ettwell said mainstreaming same-sex relationships creates an atmosphere of safety for those young people who may be struggling with their sexuality.
-œMany teenagers and young people watch as they address these issues in their own lives and find comfort and recognition of the feelings and experiences they are having at that time.
-œWith shows such as Home and Away addressing same-sex relationships, hopefully this will create a platform for people to talk about diverse sexualities and relationships among their friends and family.

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