Gay Shame and Fear of Rejection: How a Gay Counsellor can Help

Fear of rejection is a common reason gay men seek counselling, and rightly so. No one wants to feel like he is ‘not good enough’ or ‘not as good’ as others.

Rear View of a Young Handsome Man Trying on Clothes in Clothing Store's Changing Room in Front of a Mirror or in Room ClosetAnd feeling inferior can lead us to withdraw from the world, to escape or overcompensate. We end up making twice as much effort just to fit in. And yet we still feel damaged, defective or deficient in some way, never quite meeting the standard we think others expect, imagining they are judging us adversely for who we are. How can we overcome these feelings of shame and fears of rejection?

The Origins of Gay Shame: Velvet Rage or Straight Jacket?

I’ve no doubt that, for most gay men, this sense of inadequacy is rooted in the emotion of shame associated with gay sexuality and identity. In his highly celebrated book The Velvet Rage, Alan Downs centres shame as the primary driver of destructive behaviour for gay men. He offers some useful ‘lessons’ for us in how to live a more authentic life. However I don’t think he puts enough emphasis on the way gay shame is constructed in our schools, workplaces, communities, by media outlets and through political processes and decisions (just to name a few). We can’t really address individual shame without connecting the dots back to our shared journeys as gay men.close-up of man wearing bare chested man wearing black leather fetish harness

We’ve all had experiences of being excluded or feeling different. Attitude magazine’s Matthew Todd has written about this in Straight Jacket: How to be Gay and Happy. He calls it a shame that has been inflicted upon us. Let’s not fool ourselves by thinking shame simply comes from ‘within’. It’s something we learn while growing up. We are conditioned and programmed into feeling gay shame and that conditioning and programming continues into adult life. And despite these shared experiences of exclusion and rejection, gay men compete for validation, often participating in shaming and rejection of each other. If you are familiar with the culture of Grindr and other ‘dating’ apps, you will know what I am talking about. Gay men can be mean to each other!

How Gay Shame can Sabotage Therapy

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my career is being present with other gay or bisexual men, as well as men who are questioning their sexual orientation, as they unpack the impact of gay shame in their lives. Gay men choose me in the hope I will offer more understanding than the straight woman they saw for CBT or the straight man who sat silently analysing them. They find my webcam counselling services while researching Grindr addiction or gay porn dependency. Or they Google gay therapist in Sydney or their gay friend recommends me. Some are referred by their GP under the Medicare Better Access provisions. In any case, they tell me it’s a relief to have found a counsellor who is gay. They want to be honest about the anxiety they feel around other gay men or their struggles with depression or meth use or isolation. They want to talk about the sexual risks they are taking or body dysmorphia or their HIV diagnoses or loneliness. And they are pleased that we can dialogue together. They are happy I’m not just going to sit and listen and that we are actually going to have a conversation.

This is a good start, but sometimes shame can undermine therapy. If the primary way in which you interact with other men is through dating apps, you might strongly associate gay men with feelings of suspicion or distrust. You go looking for affirmation or validation, and what you get is rejection. And at some point after the initial relief of finding a gay therapist, the reality that you are talking with another gay man kicks in. Can you really trust this guy? Is he everything he claims to be? Is he even qualified? What’s to stop him rejecting you as well?

A number of different fingers pointing to an anxious man

In a recent article, The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness, Michael Hobbes says that gay men are primed to expect rejection. And I see this start to happen in the therapy space as well. It doesn’t help that the medical model positions therapists as experts who will assess, diagnose and treat your problems, minimising your own role in recovery or treatment. Men often enter therapy expecting that I will judge and diagnose them, telling them the ways in which they are defective and then fixing them. They are primed to both being judged and judging in return. They charge me with the responsibility but then question my authority and capability, suspicious of my intentions or expertise or qualifications. I am, after all, just another gay man! At this point it is important to ask: To what extent might your self-criticism and previous bad experiences with gay men be affecting your trust in the therapy and gay therapist?

Self-Compassion for Gay Men: Using Mindfulness to Overcome Shame, Rejection and Overcompensation

We don’t qualify our way out of shame. Doing that is called overcompensation. Most of us are familiar with trying to overcome feelings of inferiority or fear of rejection by putting in an extraordinary effort or being above reproach. Many gay men deal with feelings of insecurity by aiming to be beyond criticism. That might involve hours at the gym trying to create a flawless physique, climbing to the CEO position or racking up credit card debt on designer clothes. In other words, the biggest critic is often oneself.

My approach is to gay shame is informed by mindfulness practices and Buddhist psychology principles as well as the work of self-compassion researchers such as Dr Kristin Neff from the University of Texas. It involves practising particular ways of relating to yourself and often requires shifting your self-perception. It isn’t a ‘trick’ I can give you and it isn’t just making yourself feel good. Changing your relationship with yourself requires cultivating awareness and requires you take specific actions. Your treatment is not the therapist’s responsibility alone, it is a collaborative effort. Above all it involves practices of goodwill towards yourself and others.

Side profile happy man sending love sms text message on mobile phone with red hearts flying away from screen isolated on gray wall background. Positive human emotions

Make a start by researching your therapist or counsellor and then committing to the process. Medicare provides up to 10 rebates per calendar year for focussed psychological strategies. If you are meeting online over webcam, it works better to start with regular sessions no more than one or two weeks apart. The first session is an opportunity to ask questions and have doubts clarified. Take care if you notice persistent doubt, suspicion or guardedness within yourself. To what extent might these be a reflection of the shame or self-loathing that actually brought you to therapy?

Secondly, don’t assume friendliness on the part of your therapist implies an absence of expertise. Friendliness, kindness and goodwill is part of the treatment. If we are going to transform our relationship to ourselves from one of shame to one of love, support, comfort and patience we need to actively value ourselves and each other. We need to start practicing positive self-regard and positive regard towards others.

Finally, don’t let gay shame undermine your therapy. Gay identity can be a significant source of stress but it’s also a means to connect with other men. Nico Lang writes that if we don’t celebrate gay happiness, we only make the loneliness epidemic worse. Don’t let the fear, suspicion and judgement that brought you to seek help sabotage your efforts to receive it. Your counsellor is here to work with you, not against you. However isolated you are feeling, you are not alone.

To make an appointment, contact me.

What Sonia Kruger or the Media isn’t saying about LGBT Scholarships (and why we need them)

Professor showing gay man something on a computerSonia Kruger (an Australian ‘personality’) stirred up social media this week by appearing on national television and condemning targetted scholarships for young people who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. Kruger claimed the scholarships were being awarded because of ‘sexual preference’.

… I don’t think it should have anything to do with the awarding of a scholarship. I think a scholarship should be given on merit. – Sonia Kruger

There was plenty of agreement on Facebook, even pages like QNews:

I don’t think getting a scholarship because you are lgbti is ok at all, they should be earned academically.

I agree with her 100% what does sexuality have to do with anything?

LGBT Scholarships: Whose Business is it Anyway?

No one has mentioned something glaringly obvious. The Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) which is offering the scholarships is entirely funded by business. This isn’t the taxpayer’s money we are talking about, it’s private money raised by the ABCN through member fees and donations. So essentially it’s up to them how they spend it. It’s none of Sonia Kruger’s business!

The ABCN is a not-for-profit organisation that connects business with disadvantaged education through mentoring and partnership programs. Members include companies like PWC, Commonwealth Bank and EY who are generally known for their support of LGBT employees.  But that’s not the point. Imagine you and a few mates formed a club to raise money for a particular cause and then someone from outside your club started banging on about what you should and shouldn’t do with the money. Mostly the response would be ‘mind your own business!’ (smiley face optional).

No one seems to have said this to Kruger yet. But in her line of work, it matters little what she says. The celebrity business is highly competitive and the goal for any ‘media personality’ is to be seen and heard, so we can’t really begrudge her for having a rant when she gets a spot on the Today Show can we? It’s just a shame she had to be so mean-spirited in the course of furthering her career.

Group of college students in the library standing in line and looking at camera

The ABCN Scholarship Foundation is offering a number of year 10 students $7000 each over their senior school years and the first year of uni in addition to a mentor and travel expenses. I wasn’t able to see how many scholarships were on offer this year, but 41 scholarships have been offered since they started in 2013 so my guess is it’s between 10-15 that are available. Contrary to the myth that now seems to prevail, they aren’t just for LGBT students but exceptional students facing economic, family or social challenges. Five (yes, only 5) are targetted: 1 to an indigenous student, 1 to a female student in Victoria, 1 to a student from a refugee background, 1 to a student who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex (LGBTI) and 1 to a student from Western Australia (it begs the question why Kruger doesn’t have it in for ‘Sandgropers’ as well?).

According to the invitation from ABCN, students selected for targeted scholarships must also meet the primary criteria for a scholarship. So we are talking about just one of a number of scholarships here. And it IS being awarded to a young LGBT person with academic merit. The danger is that, when dumbed down for viewers of morning TV, an opportunity to publicise these important scholarships gets derailed into yet another act of gay bashing by a celebrity desperate for airtime.

Karl Stefanovic knows how to – to use a Swedish expression – ‘do a poodle’. He’s a celebrity who can say something offensive about transfolk then claim the spotlight again by rolling on his back and apologising. Offensive but crafty. Kruger tends to just move on, so if she follows the pattern she is establishing, the next soft target will be just around the corner. Before it appears, let’s debunk a few myths…

Scholarships are often Targetted at Particular Groups.

Scholarships should be awarded on merit only.

I saw several comments like this on Facebook and some of them came from gay-identifying people.

Scholarships are only awarded if you are exceptionally great at what you are studying, not because you think you should be entitled to one because you have had a hard past.

Not true. Even if it was public money being used, which it is not, these comments reflect ignorance about scholarships. It is commonplace to award scholarships to those whose background has disadvantaged their access to academic opportunities. Most universities in Australia award targetted scholarships including, for example, the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) which offer scholarships to students with disabilities, women students, indigenous students and those from regional areas.

Arabic Student With Books Sitting In Classroom

Sexual Identity is not Sexual Preference.

To ask a student if they identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual… you are asking somebody about their sexual preferences and I find that that’s a really odd thing to do… – Sonia Kruger.

This is a common error for (some straight) people discussing LGBT concerns. Unfortunately some do struggle when the question of identity arises. Perhaps it conjures images of nudity or pleasure that can only be imagined? But your identity and the details of the sexual activities you enjoy are not necessarily the same thing. There are many young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi or trans who may not have had any sexual experience but they still know who they are. To ask a young person how they identify is not to pry into their sexual habits but to acknowledge and dignify the person.

Gay People Still Experience Discrimination.

Isn’t affirmative action for gay youth twenty years too late?

No, it isn’t. Some of us might live in a gay bubble but I’ve spoken to many LGBT people who continue to experience similar bullying, threats and violence to that which I experienced growing up in Brisbane in the 1980s.

Someone else wrote:

If LGBTIQ people want equality then they should be treated the same as anyone else in society.

Hell yeah! The problem is, we are not treated the same, are we? In Australia, it’s still possible for a gay teacher at a private school to be sacked if it becomes known they are in a same sex relationship. You can still be refused access to your partner in a hospital which is under a religious auspice. It’s still impossible for same sex couples to access the most common legal contract available to heterosexual couples under Australian Commonwealth Law (it’s called ‘marriage’). And if you are in a same sex relationship in this country, you do not have the same property rights or automatic inheritance provisions as you do in a heterosexual relationship. In some states, you cannot jointly adopt children. Yes, LGBT people SHOULD be treated equally in Australia, but they are not. And perhaps that is one of the reasons why this charitable organisation is targetting a scholarship to LGBT young people.

Teenage student holding bag and booksIf you are a young person or know of one who might benefit from a scholarship, the Pinnacle Foundation also provides them to LGBTQI young people 16-24 years of age. (By the way, if you have got this far and are still antsy about young LGBT people being offered scholarships, the Pinnacle Foundation relies on donations and corporate sponsorship as well, i.e. no taxpayer dollars were used in their generosity)

To create a society based on principles of inclusion and diversity, we have to be prepared to support those values. I applaud both The Australian Business and Community Network and the Pinnacle Foundation for the important work they are doing to assist LGBT young people to achieve their goals.

If you would like to talk about achieving your goals, coming-out, gay relationships , self-esteem, overcoming shame or sexual identity, you can contact me about making a time to meet.

While writing this post, I was reminded of an expression that was popular about 25 years ago:

kissing doesn’t kill, greed and ignorance do

Journey Out of Shame: 4 Factors Influencing Transition into Gay Life

Unrequited Gay LoveYou can’t live anyone else’s life, just your own. So you have to keep giving yourself what you need on your journey.

The journey out of shame into gay life requires support, knowledge and courage.

During 2015 I’ve worked with a number of men in the process of coming out of straight partnerships (including marriages) and into gay lives and new identity. These journeys can be confusing, frightening and intensely de-stabilising, not only for the men making them but for their partners and families as well. It saddens me that so many psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors have such a poor understanding of what it is like for men coming out later in life and the kind of help and support these men might need.

The opening quote is from a man who made such a life transition, in his words, a journey out of shame. In hindsight, he spoke of the importance of preparing for each step and having the right ‘gear’: skills and knowledge he needed along the way. He also told me that having the opportunity to talk openly with me, without fear of judgement, had provided him the courage to keep going.

At the time of contacting me, this particular man had been besieged by guilt and shame. The first therapist he consulted diagnosed him with a sex-disorder. The ‘treatment’ involved prayer and self-denial- he was told he could not even masturbate! The man’s wife was described as ‘the victim’ which of course made the man out to be a ‘perpetrator’ and only contributed to his sense of guilt. Something that was intrinsic to this man – his attraction to other men – had been constructed as both pathology and sin (bad science and unhelpful religion colluding together!). Instead of welcoming another of life’s transitions, this guy saw himself as being in the midst of a mid-life crisis.

How does such a guy make the journey out of shame and into self-acceptance? My experience working with many gay and bisexual men suggests there are 4 factors that influence how long such a transition might take.

 

#1. The level of acceptance around homosexuality from a current partner and other family.

Man in bed with supportive wife or girlfriend

A higher degree of acceptance by a girlfriend or wife strongly correlates to higher self-acceptance and less shame by the man going through this transition. It is not always so easy for partners to accept what is happening. When a man takes the courageous step of opening up to his partner about what he wants for his life, it can be met with fear and derision. Some partners, however, say they always knew and are more concerned to maintain a sense of stability for the family.

 

#2. The strength of connection to, and access to other gay or bisexual men.

two mates having a drink

The more connection and friendships with other men that guys have, the less shame they tend to experience. The difficulty with this can be that friendships with other gay men so often evolve out of sexual encounters and this can impact an existing heterosexual relationship. So it is worth sorting out what comes first and how connection with other guys is established, particularly if there is an assumption of monogamy in the straight relationship.

 

#3. The courage and willingness to step out into connection with other gay men and take advantage of the above circumstances.

Man about to dive

Even when others accept and welcome the changes they are making, some men are held back by fear of action. Obviously there is sense in talking through priorities and steps involved, but usually at some point fears need to be faced if progress is to be made.

 

#4. The presence of role models or identifying with other men who are living aspects of a preferred life.

Man meditating on the road

These are strange new worlds for some men. Those who tend to have easier transitions often already know of a gay man they admire or respect who can light the way. It could be someone in the family, at work, a person from the past or even a historical figure who can give a sense that life as a gay man can be good and preferable. Even tv and films can provide useful coming-out stories  or role models as inspiration.

Not everyone does or can move forward at the same pace. And there are going to be ups and downs in mood. Having a vision is important and this is something we can work out in online counselling conversations or face to face therapy. The journey out of shame is a personal journey but you don’t have to make it alone. Having a therapist as a go-to person when you are finding it tough can help you to endure the journey. Don’t give up! It can and does get better. And remember, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Holding the Man: Finding Your Way To And Back to a Gay Relationship

Ryan Corr and Craig Stott in Holding the ManIs it possible for guys to fall in love?
Can two men have a successful relationship?
Do gay relationships last?

In my work providing counselling and therapy for gay and bisexual men, clients still ask these questions. That’s a sad reflection on how rarely we see gay relationships depicted in movies and on tv.

But now we have the film adaptation of Holding the Man, which along with Priscilla and The Sum of Us (1994), Head On (1998) and Walking on Water (2002) comprise the few internationally recognised gay Aussie feature films from the last thirty years.

It’s about time isn’t it? After a decade of virtual invisibility we finally have a love story that will (hopefully) get people talking. I reckon that most gay men in their thirties and over in Australia have heard of Holding the Man. We’ve read the original memoir Holding the Man by Tim Conigrave and many have seen the play by Tommy Murphy which has been staged in the Australian capitals as well as in London, San Francisco and LA. Ten years we have a film which is arguably more accessible and potentially of more influence than the book or play. And while most of the mainstream press is presenting the film from a marriage equality angle, I’d suggest they are missing the point. Holding the Man isn’t simply Tim Conigrave’s contribution to the gay romance genre. It is his confessional.

My Tim Story (because everyone’s got one!)

Right now everyone seems to have a story about Tim Conigrave. So I’ll keep mine brief. It’s 1989, I’m twenty years old living on the Gold Coast and a few months into my first professional role. I’m paid to lure gay guys to afternoon teas where I dispel myths about HIV and we chat about safe sex using bananas and condoms as props. Tim and his colleague who run the Fun & Esteem Project at ACON in Sydney have crashed-trained me one weekend along with a bunch of other ‘peer educators’ from across the country. And I’m channeling his presence with men twice my age. He’s a big man who can do both camp and authoritative on a turn. I’m carrying his confidence to conceal my shyness and compensate for my age. And now he is calling me to offer me an interview.

“What you’ve been doing there is really impressive,” Tim tells me over the phone from Sydney.
“But how likely is it I’ll get the job?” I ask.
“All I can say is get yourself down here.”

When you’re twenty, there’s a lot of reassurance and good feeling in hearing this from a man ten years senior. I was a boy from the ‘burbs of Brisbane. Sydney meant sophistication and sex packaged up in rows of terrace houses, beaches, bars and saunas. But I never went to the interview. I had a boyfriend who preferred to stay put. Ironically we broke up shortly afterwards. A few years later I applied again and ended up doing Tim’s job at ACON.

Two men kissing in a lift

Making Gay Lives Visible

Timothy Conigrave was passionate about social issues as well as performance. His commitment is kept alive not only by these creative works but initiatives like The Institute of Many, a platform for HIV positive people to share experiences. But Holding the Man honours him less by justifying marriage equality than by reminding us of the devastation that public ignorance does to the lives of LGBT people. In this respect it parallels Torka Aldrig Tårar Utan Handskar, Jonas Gardell’s amazing work about HIV in Sweden in the 80s and 90s. On the same weekend that Holding the Man opened in Sydney, the NSW government banned Gayby Baby, a film about same sex parenting. Given what we should have learned about the importance of making LGBT lives visible, that is disturbing.

Aside from dispelling myths and changing attitudes, the significance of Holding the Man is really in the personal story Tim has to tell.

Is it possible for guys to fall in love?
Yes, absolutely, but don’t expect it to always be comfortable.

Can two men have a successful relationship?
Define ‘successful’. Are how will you maintain that relationship when those around you might not understand it? Or when you and your partner want different things?

Do gay relationships last?
Go and see the film and tell me what you think then.

Want to talk about gay relationships? You can make a counselling appointment with me in Sydney or online.

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Sizing Up: When We Compete with other Gay Men in Gay Communities

gay men arm wrestlingGay Community is a hotly contested topic. Many argue it is exclusive and divisive and some even question its existence. How do gay men respond to the expectation to compete with other men?

Recently I wrote of growing up gay in Queensland in the 1970s and 80s. I attended an all-boys school which encouraged us to replicate 1980s Queensland masculine norms of behaviour: aggressiveness, competition, toughness towards each other. It was not exactly an environment where one felt safe or encouraged to show sensitivity, cooperation, support for one’s schoolmates and it did not feel like much of a community. The guys in this video from Glee are dressed quite similarly to the way we had to dress at my school, but the sense of shared fun and safety conveyed is a world away from what I experienced as a 17 year old: a bunch of guys enjoying each other’s company in an atmosphere of inclusion and safety with the new guy being sung to by his love interest. Quite surreal, and it would be fair to say that this would have been one of my ‘dreams’ as a teenager back then:

 

Gay Men, Anxiety and Belonging

Often I find myself in counselling conversations with gay and bisexual guys who have an understanding of competition between men as something that is genetically or biologically determined. ‘This is the way nature made us, to compete’ they say. When I hear this, I wonder ‘but is this the way you want your life to be?’. In any case, there are examples of cooperation and collaboration amongst animals as well. We have all heard of ‘survival of the fittest’ but it seems Darwin was not just talking about brute force. Recent research indicates that altruism and kindness are also important factors for evolution. Penguins flock together to protect their young and vulnerable against the cold. Meerkats guard each other against predators and various species of apes help others in their group and share without expectation of reward.

Gay identity is a relatively new concept established in the last 40 years or so. Gay people have developed communities over this time that offer them support when they find themselves left out of mainstream ways of living. However there is no question that some gay men find their scenes to be highly competitive, and this goes beyond the question of finding a partner. Sometimes the effects of this competition are described to me as ‘not feeling as good as others’ or ‘feeling less as a person’.  I’ve spoken to men, for instance, who have told me about accumulating huge credit card debt through buying clothes, expensive holidays or cool technology and other accessories so as to fit in with their peers and feel more comfortable in their gay networks. Others have responded to the anxiety of competition by taking drugs to feel more relaxed or ‘part of’ the atmosphere. At at conference I attended in Paris last year, Neal Carnes, an American researcher, spoke of the sense of belonging some gay men achieve through their use of crystal meth.

Exclusion and Competition in Gay Community

Men in large cities like London, Melbourne, Sydney, New York and San Francisco have suggested to me that the competitive aspects of gay mens networks may be more extreme in these metropolises. As a tourist in such places, one might experience adventure, but how is it to live there as a gay man? Are there expectations to wear certain clothes or have a particular body shape or ‘look’ or dance a certain way? One man told me that unless he was regularly ‘manscaped’ (had his body hair removed according to a certain fashion), that he would not be able to find a sexual partner, let alone a relationship. And I have been contacted by a number of men of Indian descent who told me that gay men in Melbourne only like white skin. So the sought after inclusiveness of gay community becomes, ironically, exclusive. Many gay men feel they struggle to meet the standards that a particular gay culture seems to enforce. What started out as a space where we could be free to be ourselves becomes a place of comparison.

What are your experiences of competition between gay men?
Do you have some stories of gay community, or personal examples of cooperation between gay men or men generally?
How have you managed to establish your identity? Through competition, through cooperation or in other ways?

You are welcome to share your thoughts and comments here. If a conversation would be helpful, contact me for an appointment.

Where are the Gay Couples? Looking for Same Sex Love in Australian Pop Culture.

Two Men EmbracingSydney is considered the gay capital of Australia. According to the 2011 Australian census, almost 30% of same sex couples reside in Sydney. And in Potts Point, a suburb in the centre of Sydney, more than one fifth of the couples are same sex. But we still rarely see same sex couples represented on TV, in magazines and advertising. Why isn’t the diversity of gay relationships reflected in popular culture?

The Visibility of Same Sex Relationships

Where I live, in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney, there are a lot of gay couples as well, although perhaps not quite as many as Potts Point and Surry Hills (I checked it out: at Bondi Beach, at least 2-4 % of domestic partnerships were prepared to be counted as same sex). Yet in the romantic and sexual visual narratives of the music videos showing at my gym, I only ever see straight relationships portrayed. Any closeness and affection between men, for example, is virtually non-existent in these videos. Men and women, on the other hand, are depicted together across a range of interactions that seem to reflect everything from friendship and companionship, to romantic love, flirtation as well as the obviously erotic.

I’ve nothing against seeing depictions of love, affection, courtship or even sex between men and women in music videos, but it would be great to see some more visual story-telling that crosses the same-gender divide! My guess is that the producers of the music video programmes are either afraid that their advertisers will pull out (due to a backlash from certain viewers) or they are just unaware that they are reinforcing hetero-norms.

But here’s another question: Just how many music videos featuring same sex couples are actually produced?

Gay Sexuality and Gender Diversity in Music Videos

I’ve been lucky to live in Sweden for a few years where there is more representation of same sex couples in advertising and popular culture and more diversity around the performance of gender. Affection between men in Stockholm is not the no-go area it seems to be in suburban Australia. Mainstream films like Patrik 1,5 and broadcasting public acts of intimacy and closeness between men ensures nobody forgets! (Take a look at this Melodifestival rehearsal of ‘Hello Goodbye’ between Erik Segerstedt & Mattias Andréasson)

I can only think of a handful of music videos where I’ve seen narratives of same sex stories or representations of gender diversity, let alone depictions of same sex couples. And most of these could definitely not be classed as mainstream. I’ve posted a few of my favourites here. One high profile music video was ‘Same Love’ by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis which scored a huge number of hits on Youtube in 2012.

Last year Steve Grand released the video for All American Boy, a song about longing for a same sex relationship.

Matt Fishel explores a similar theme in The Football Song.

The video for Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ might have a few people thinking about the assumptions they make, even if the potential for a same sex relationship is revealed only as a punchline in the final seconds.

And then there is the Cosmo Jarvis Gay Pirates song that made it onto the Triple J Hottest 100 of 2011.

Gay people are everywhere. And seeing affection between men never hurt anyone. I’d suggest that seeing two men embracing in a music video might even affirm our identity. Many of my counselling clients told me that it makes them ‘feel more normal’ when they see other men together in advertising, films, TV and music videos.

What music videos have you seen that have helped you to feel good about who you are? Post your suggestions below!