Someone told me there is no word in Chinese for gay or homosexual. If you are Chinese and gay it is important to appear you like the opposite sex and live up to societal expectations. In China, continual nagging by parents to get married, especially towards young men, is so pervasive that lesbians and gay men advertise to get marry each other to shut their parents up, giving them the joyful relief of a wedding.

If you are a Muslim you cannot go to prayer as a gay person. Being a gay man is not supported in the Muslim faith. So gay Muslims generally play it straight to family and friends. Just about all-religious faiths do not support their gay and lesbian children. It seems old-world religious moral judgments and dogmas are out of step with Western tolerant life in the year 2012. That gap causes a great deal of anxiety for gay men in Australia with certain cultural backgrounds.

Non-acceptance of who we really are as gay men has many negative psychological implications: shame, guilt, a sense of inferiority, sometimes self-loathing and in all it translates into living a double life filled with anxiety. Living a double life means being out on a limb – a very fragile limb.

Leaving out religious or cultural restrictions to gay lifestyles, we can all pretend to be someone else in other areas of our lives as well. Most of us go to work and put on a business persona but we know we do that to maintain being professional. But if we try to be someone we are not, in all circumstances with all people, then the gap becomes a very thin place to live within. It is very easy to fall through that gap with a hard fall when it is found out you are not what you seem, sometimes you find this out about yourself first. Being an authentic person on the other hand makes you very strong, because nothing can break your rock of genuineness.

If you are having an affair, for example, maybe it is best to admit it and stop the anxiety. If you are bullshitting all the time about how great you are maybe it is time to tell the truth. If you know you are gay and pretending to be otherwise maybe it is time to deal with it by admitting it to yourself first. We learn to become someone other than ourselves in childhood by adapting to the expectations of others. As adults however we now have the personal power to be ourselves and become authentic.

If you are ethnic and gay then it will be a difficult on how much you disclose to family, friends and community. But be strong, knowing that being gay is a very big part of your true identity and it requires your own strong voice of acceptance.

For others, who do not have ethnic religious or cultural restrictions; let yourself fall back on being the authentic person you can be in adulthood. Give up acting. Living life in your own skin becomes a very pleasant place to be and so much less anxious ridden.

INFO: Gerry North is a gay couples counsellor and can be contacted at [email protected] or visit gaycounselling.vpweb.com.au

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