Researchers in Melbourne are conducting a study that is believed will find a correlation between gay Australian women eighteen years and over, excessive alcohol, recreational drugs and high levels of depression and anxiety.

How you react means a lot

Women who identify in this group are two to three times more likely to experience depression and anxiety than their heterosexual counterparts; but researchers say so much of this could be avoided if they received adequate support from family and friends when they came out.

It’s a good reminder at the end of what has been a busy but ultimately frustrating year for the Australian GLBTQI (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex) community who have faced a stifling juncture in their fight for the right to get married. And it’s an issue we have covered extensively this year on The Punch.

The message of today’s piece however is just as important: if and when a member of your family or friends finds the courage to come out, be gentle, be supportive and listen. How you react and what you say will have an irreparable impact on the rest of their life; from how they interact with you to how they feel about and treat themselves.

Associate Professor Ruth McNeil, a member of the University of Melbourne research team, told The Punch today that the coming out period is one of the highest risk times in a GLBTQI person’s life.

“Research has shown that the time between accepting your sexuality and coming out is between five and seven years. For lots of people this can be between the ages of 13 and 17. This is a very vulnerable time. As well as very high risk in terms of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as mental health issues like experiencing depression and anxiety.

“The better a person’s relationship with their family and friends at this time the greater chance they have of any residual impact on their mental health,” she said.

With Christmas just around the corner and lots of family occasions on the cards it’s not hard to imagine a conversation like this cropping up in a private moment. So no matter what you’re feeling, just remember how important this moment is to the person sharing it with you, so listen, pay attention and show them love and support.

Comments will close at 8pm AEST

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    • Danny B says:

      05:18am | 20/12/12

      I’d like to bring your attention to the following youtube channel:

      It’s a bunch of GLBTQIs talking about their experiences, in order to help other members of that community.  I came across it while trying to understand what a friend was going through.

    • Pedro says:

      03:31pm | 20/12/12

      I’m sure I’m not the only one totally bored by all things gay. I work with a few gays and they give me chocolate. That’s the sum of my gay experience. I’m sure Tony Abbott will make it all fine when he is PM. Quite progressive I believe.
      If my son grows up to be gay, then I may change my mind and be interested in the problems of the gay.
      I am more concerned about the rape culture in India. I heard a very disturbing story on NPR yesterday.

    • Mark says:

      07:07am | 20/12/12

      The unfortunate flip side to this, groups such as the ACL, politicians and other bigoted groups will use this information as a weapon against the GLBTQI instead of trying to help them.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      08:20am | 20/12/12

      I was thinking the exact same thing.
      In fact, the ACL (or some similar organization) actually did publish a similar study a while ago for that exact purpose.
      Why people are so obsessed with bullying gay people and so fearful of the fact they are gay, I will never understand.

    • gof says:

      07:21am | 20/12/12

      I’ll be supporting alright , supporting their legs and back as I throw them back into the closet.

    • Colin says:

      07:54am | 20/12/12

      @ gof

      Caring, compassionate, tolerant, understanding…

      These are all words that would not be used to describe you.

    • Colin says:

      07:55am | 20/12/12

      @ gof

      Caring, compassionate, tolerant, understanding…

      These are all words that would not be used to describe you.

    • Disgusted says:

      07:56am | 20/12/12

      I’m assuming your knuckles drag on the floor when you walk? Hopefully tomorrow when the planet ends the explosion happens directly on all of your kind of sub human cretins. Although you probably can’t understand a word I’m saying - given the pea brain you clearly have. The only correct and just thing to do is throw YOU in the closet and throw away the key. Neanderthal!!

    • bec says:

      08:12am | 20/12/12

      You strike me as a guy who will have unwittingly eaten more than your fair share of other people’s bodily fluids.

    • fml says:

      08:15am | 20/12/12

      Do you work for the cornish liberation group?

    • Daemon says:

      08:19am | 20/12/12

      Well done that man, being able to say so much with so few words. One trusts that you are not able to breed and so put at risk any offspring unfortunate enough to be the product of your sweating and grunting. I am particularly impressed by your minimalist username, which probably says more about the depth of your intellect than anything you might have written, which may have accidentally been misconstrued as something which could be a meaningful addition to this conversation.

    • gof says:

      08:35am | 20/12/12

      I hope you’re all homo’s, we wouldn’t want your type breeding with your antagonistic attitudes.

    • TChong says:

      08:48am | 20/12/12

      geez, thats a rough insult. !!!!
      but why pull a punch with “unwittingly” ?
      agree with your sentiments, but ( hopefully) gof is just trolling.
      No normal person could rationally hold such a vile attitude .

    • mel says:

      09:11am | 20/12/12

      gof, you do realise (probably not, come to think of it) that gay people can and do have children? Just because someone is gay does not make them sterile.

      And your accusation that Colin, bec, Disgusted, fml, etc have an antagonistic attitude is nothing short of outstanding! You win the complete lack of self awareness prize for today.

    • fml says:

      09:11am | 20/12/12


      Repressed much?


    • PeterM says:

      09:27am | 20/12/12

      Interesting responses by the people here to gof’s sentiments. 

      You do realise that you are all being quite hypocritical due to your condemnation of them?  If gof does not agree with homosexuality, then why should he feign support?

      You all obviously disagree with gof’s sentiments, yet you do what you condemn them for.

      Food for thought.

    • AdamC says:

      09:42am | 20/12/12

      ‘gof’ and ‘Colin’ - battle of the trolls!

    • fml says:

      09:41am | 20/12/12


      No it isn’t food for thought. It is quite simple really. gof put forward his opinion and we deride him for it as he derides others.

      We should never ever have to respond to ignorance with politeness. It’s quite simple really.

      “If gof does not agree with homosexuality, then why should he feign support?”

      He doesn’t but people have the right to deride him as he does to others.

      “yet you do what you condemn them for.” No we don’t.

    • gof says:

      10:29am | 20/12/12

      You are carrying on like a big girl now. Cry yourself to sleep tonight, you will feel much better in the morning.

    • fml says:

      11:02am | 20/12/12


      Hahah you are hi-larious. You communists are all the same. If I am the little girl surely you must be the blouse? no?

    • Colin says:

      12:06pm | 20/12/12

      @ AdamC

      “‘gof’ and ‘Colin’ - battle of the trolls!”

      Why is it that I picture you as wearing a dishevelled straw hat, a calico jerkin, sitting on a wall in the middle of village square blowing raspberries and saying silly things to passersby..?

    • subotic says:

      12:14pm | 20/12/12

      Gee I’d be tickled pink if both gof & Colon were secretly “in the closet”.

      Together even….

    • AdamC says:

      12:24pm | 20/12/12

      Colin says:

      “Why is it that I picture you as wearing a dishevelled straw hat, a calico jerkin, sitting on a wall in the middle of village square blowing raspberries and saying silly things to passersby..?”

      I have no idea, Colin.

      However, I do know why I picture you under a bridge, coming out only to post comments and extort money from passing travellers. Can you guess why that is?

    • fml says:

      01:18pm | 20/12/12

      Apparently the swedes use the term “Rich as trolls”. Out of all mythical creatures I would’ve expected the trolls to be the poorest, living under bridges and all.

      Maybe unicorns, they would get hella dosh giving people rides, also the p0rn0s. Just think of the fetishists…

    • Colin says:

      01:41pm | 20/12/12

      @ AdamC

      “I do know why I picture you under a bridge, coming out only to post comments and extort money from passing travellers. Can you guess why that is?”

      That’s just Pure Genius, Adam; I don’t know how you do it! After all, it takes Real Talent to take what one person has said and then throw it back at them, thereby simply copying them…I am in awe at your Sheer Cleverness…

    • AdamC says:

      02:09pm | 20/12/12

      Fml, you’re not lowering the tone of the discussion, are you?

      Colin, you are too kind.

    • gobsmack says:

      02:17pm | 20/12/12

      If your first comment was supposed to be funny (or even make some sort of sense), it failed miserably.

      Stick to trolling on World of Warcraft.

    • Colin says:

      07:34am | 20/12/12

      “Researchers in Melbourne are conducting a study that is believed will find ...”

      Ah, that’s the proper way to run an objective, empirical sociological study; preempt what you assume will be the outcome and damn the accusations of confirmation bias..!

      Works for me.

    • Michael says:

      07:52am | 20/12/12

      I tried to point out the same thing to “Lisa Meredith” once, she didn’t like it.

    • marley says:

      08:21am | 20/12/12

      @Colin - I’m surprised you would think the words “objective” or “empirical” belong in the same sentence with anything related to sociology.

    • PeterM says:

      08:54am | 20/12/12

      @marley - How true.

    • mel says:

      09:24am | 20/12/12

      Colin, I thought the way scientists work was to start with a hypothesis, devise an experiment to prove (or test if you prefer) it and then analyse the results to see if the hypothesis is confirmed. Then it would all go for peer review of the results might sort out any accusations of bias.  I don’t think it’s particularly strange that they would have a belief in what they might find. Do you think scientists are a blank slate without awareness of what happens in the world? The real question is what people do if the findings go against the hypothesis.

      And I wouldn’t take the way a newspaper reports a story as necessarily accurate!

    • marley says:

      09:49am | 20/12/12

      @mel - scientists state a hypothesis and then develop experiments to test it;  sociologists state a hypothesis and then develop studies to prove it.  There’s a difference.

    • Colin says:

      11:37am | 20/12/12

      @ Mel
      @ Marley
      @ PeterM

      Obviously sarcasm or irony doesn’t carry to well on a blog post…

      Or are you just all being deliberately obtuse..?

    • Reggieman says:

      12:01pm | 20/12/12

      Is it a “queer” review study?

    • marley says:

      12:22pm | 20/12/12

      @Colin - umm, what on earth makes you think that I or anyone else missed your point?  I just picked up the ball and carried it a few more steps.  Maybe you should work on your own irony-detection-meter.

    • Colin says:

      01:18pm | 20/12/12

      @ Marley


    • Robinoz says:

      07:37am | 20/12/12

      There was a TV report recently by neurologists who had found that specific parts of the brains of homosexuals were different from heterosexuals. That wasn’t a great surprise, but what was interesting is that some men and women who suffer slight strokes that change the relevant part of the brain’s wiring, often become homosexual late in life. It answered a question I had been wondering about; why had a female I knew who had married, had two kids and carried on a happy heterosexual life for 45 years all of a sudden changed her sexual preference? Wide publication of these findings could help people to be more compassionate to those who find themselves homosexual. Perhaps the churches could even get over their fire and brimstone approach also.

    • scott says:

      08:36am | 20/12/12

      “Researchers in Melbourne are conducting a study that is believed will find a correlation between gay Australian women eighteen years and over, excessive alcohol, recreational drugs and high levels of depression and anxiety. “

      That’s because women are miserable human beings.  If I had to hang around women all day I would turn to drugs and alcohol too!

    • ellcee says:

      09:03am | 20/12/12

      I’m a woman and tried really hard to be offended by this, but couldn’t, coz it’s true!!  Nice one Scott smile


      09:10am | 20/12/12

      Hi Scott,

      I am sorry but women aren’t miserable human beings at all.  Women happen to be caregivers, nurturers, and some time single parents trying to do their best.  I was brought up by a working mother and I am only saddened by your personal reaction based on all these wrong assumptions. You do seem to have a chip on your shoulder about the female gender.  I was also wondering if you weren’t being a bit disrespectful to your own female relatives like your mother.

      The women in my family have been the back bone of their society through World War I and World War II by working and bringing up their family with little choice.  I am proud to say that I am here because of my first education from my great grand mother and grand mother. You surely can’t deny where you come from, because your roots are very important part of who you are and your DNA, right?

      Until men can have babies physically, you are most certainly stuck with women. In conclusion consuming too much alcohol, using drugs and suffering from depression aren’t unique to women FYI.  And please do some research and come up with facts and figures before you speak next time.  Kind regards.

    • bec says:

      11:37am | 20/12/12

      I suspect the reason you’re sober as a judge is because they are assiduously keeping their distance from you for quite good reasons….

    • ibast says:

      08:40am | 20/12/12

      “Women who identify in this group are two to three times more likely to experience depression and anxiety than their heterosexual counterparts”

      I have quiet a number of gay friends and relatives.  We often joke about the lesbian Christmas parties at our house every year.  My door is always open, but at the risk of offending, I must say the number of lesbians with traumatic pasts is much, much higher than the general community.

      So whilst I absolutely agree, we should support our friends and relatives in their personal life decision, I suspect that a great deal of the problems are present well before the coming out.

    • AdamC says:

      08:59am | 20/12/12

      I came out at 16, in the late 1990s.

      There was definitely a lot of apprehension. Actually, why use euphemisms, I was terrified. I think adolescents are particularly sensitive to fears of rejection. Sadly, sexual development does not necessarily run in tandem with emotional development and maturity. Many gays, like me, become aware of our emerging sexuality some time before we are in a position to deal with it.

      I have no bad stories about coming out. However, back then, there wasn’t exactly a stampede of kids outing themselves. I was the only truly out kid in school. (Despite many others being gay.) So I became a bit of a novelty. Nowadays, I assume there are a lot more kids who come out while still at high school. I have even read about high school gay couples agitating to be able to take each other to the school formal. That was unheard of, in my day. (We had to take junior fag hags.)

      A lot has changed. I hope that, eventually, being a gay teenager will simply be regarded as a different kind of normal. Just like we now accept ethnic and religious diversity in the playground, I am confident we will eventually come to accept sexual diversity as just part of adolescent life.

    • Jim Moriarty says:

      10:33am | 20/12/12

      Cosigned to the last part.

      Came out in high school, which surpsised absolutley no one, and just got beat up more because I acknowledged the rumours were true.

    • CT says:

      11:58am | 20/12/12

      Adam & Jim - let me ask you this;

      Why do you think anyone cares who you choose to sleep with?
      What irks me, is the need to “identify” as gay/lesbian etc.
      Your sexual preference is NOT your identity, and does not define you as a person.  The fact that in the news we hear things like “first gay man in the senate” etc, I’m sorry but whoopdy doo.  I don’t care what his sexual preference might be, I care if he does the job or not.  If his sexual preference might in some way impede his ability to do the job, or improve it, then I suppose its noteworthy but there is no affect to the role, then so what?  Why can’t it just say <Insert Name> Senator?  Why does it have to be <insert name> Gay Senator??  Why does it matter, why do we have to hear all about it like its some kind of adver, or fist pumping achievement for a gay man?  What, gay men cant have been senators in the past?  I bet there were plenty, and you know what, it didnt affect their ability to do the job because of the fact no one knew what they did behind closed doors.

      One instance that comes to mind from personal experience, I was working hospitality, and had worked with a manager for some time.  At some stage, he decided to let me know he was a gay man.  I didn’t even pick it, standard blokey guy, and you know what? He was a good manager.  It didn’t affect my opinion of him one way or another, not one iota, and it didn’t make me think he was more or less suited to the role he was in, he was just good at his job and that was all that mattered to me as an employee under his management.  Why the need to “identify” as gay?  Honestly guys it doesnt make your words on here have more or less impact, or your ability to perform in your job any different…What you do in your private life is well….private no matter which way you choose to swing.

      I understand society has had some problems with the GLBTIQ (Honestly I cant keep up with the acronym changes). 
      But times have well and truly changed.  In my opinion it is media that makes a big beat up about GLBTIQ being somewhere or other doing something important.  Well I’m sorry but I don’t give a stuff about their sexual preference, nor should they about mine.

      I dont get it GLBTIQ want equality, but they want segregation by identifying with a fringe “community”.  It’s a weird dichotomy and I do not get it at all.

    • Aias says:

      12:38pm | 20/12/12


      Much of the ‘identification’ by a person coming out is acknowledgement and pride in one’s sexual orientation that stems from a general societal disaproval of homosexuality. In that way, an individual’s acknowlegement of their sexualtiy and how they let that define their person should be along the same lines as their cultural background, profession, sport/hobby, etc. It is up to them and no one else much as that might gall some people.

      I think that is far different than the media-identification of persons in the media as GLBT(etc) where a persons’ orientation is automatically added as a modifier. It is pretty unnecessary in my opinion, but only becase I am one of the folks who think that there should be equality across the board. Most people aren’t in that camp at all. For as long as there is inequality in our society towards people of any gender and sexual orientation there will still be the need to highlight their communities as different in order to allow for advocacy and to make sure that the majority of non-GLBT(etc) folks just ignore the inequality that they face every day.

      In short, once most of society (and all of the law) doesn’t give a stuff about sexual preference it should then be much less of a deal to everyone. Unfortunately, you are just going to have to put up with it until then.

    • CT says:

      03:30pm | 20/12/12

      I was hoping to get a response from the men (or women) here who have identified as gay, so as to get their perspective.

    • Just asking says:

      09:48am | 20/12/12

      I have to bring this up and would love a homosexual perspective on this..

      But if I was gay. I’d hate being labelled in the same community as Transgender/Intersex. Being gay/lesbian is a sexual orientation and is totally healthy (Let’s not start the debate on the increased exposure to STI’s as a gay male here).

      Transgender is not, it’s an unwillingness to accept what you were born with, which indicates a possibility of severe emotional problems.

      Intersex people have an extremely rare, genetic problem.

      These people can hardly be grouped together.

    • AdamC says:

      10:10am | 20/12/12

      Just asking, I fear you might be accused of ‘transphobia’ here. (Yes, that is a thing.)

      As a gay man, I feel little affinity for that GLBTIQ acronym. It seems to me like it represents a grab bag of different groups and interests. Mind you, I am not one of those gay men who strongly identifies with a gay ‘community’ to start with. Maybe some gays that do would appreciate the implicit solidarity reflected in such a broad church of sexual and gender identities.

    • gobsmack says:

      02:12pm | 20/12/12

      As gay man, I think I have next to nothing in common with lesbians.

      However, we are all subject to the same fear and loathing by the “straight” mainstream, so it’s a coalition of convenience.  As each group is routinely the subject of intolerance, we have to make an extra effort to be tolerant of each other and so a wider family evolves.  I’m not going to be judgmental about transgender and intersex individuals.

    • I hate pies says:

      03:02pm | 20/12/12

      Is it just me, or does the GLBTIQ acronymn get longer by the year?

    • neil says:

      10:20am | 20/12/12

      “Researchers in Melbourne are conducting a study that is believed will find a correlation between gay Australian women eighteen years and over, excessive alcohol, recreational drugs and high levels of depression and anxiety.”

      So they have predetermined the out of their research before they have conducted it. They should try and link it with climate change they are already using the same methodology but they will get a bigger grant.

      It’s not science if you predetermine the outcome.

    • Colin says:

      12:08pm | 20/12/12

      @ neil

      “It’s not science if you predetermine the outcome…”

      Careful; I said that in an ironic fashion earlier on and people got all antsy about it…

    • marley says:

      12:23pm | 20/12/12

      @Colin - no, we didn’t.

    • Jaqui says:

      10:25am | 20/12/12

      So which came first? The alcohol and the drugs or the need to come out of the closet?

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      10:30am | 20/12/12

      “It’s a good reminder at the end of what has been a busy but ultimately frustrating year for the Australian GLBTQI (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex)”

      Don’t forget inter-species and trans-human.

      Are these people frustrated because they’re alcoholic moody gays, or because their special-interest acronym keeps getting longer?

      And what’s the relationship between a bisexual person and a transgender one? Is there any?

    • M&M's says:

      10:52am | 20/12/12

      So is being gay a mental health illness that through either realignment or adjustment could or would see a complete turn around in ones sexuality and preferences, and if being homosexual is in fact a mental health issue then surly realignment or adjustment would fall under the medicare banner - One must ask the question then, why are these people not seeking the medical health help they require rather than battling through without ever seeking the cure for normality - Just saying is all

    • Pattem says:

      01:10pm | 20/12/12

      If homosexuality is a choice, it can be un-chosen.
      If homosexualty is an illness (mental), it can be treated.

      If homosexuality is genetic, it cannot be undone.

    • Gordon says:

      11:19am | 20/12/12

      I believe that the best strategy for acceptance of gay marrage is gay people being brave and saying “OK this is us, here we are, get over it “, getting married in the eyes of their own community & friends, and screw what the law says. The flip side of this is that us straights who believe in a fair society have to be prepared to support and encourage such bravery when it happens.

    • Fronk says:

      11:39am | 20/12/12

      Meh, being gay has never been so trendy. Very accepted as far as I’m concerned. And female gay people more so because they don’t have the “ick” factor that seems to go with the males. And before ya jump down my throat that’s not my feeling, doods can have hot soapy showers all day long for all I care, it just seems that even the image of men kissing is unappealing to alot of men and women. No one really seems to have a problem with women doing it though.. why is that.

      The only thing that bothers me about gay people is conforming to the stereotypes. Almost every time I see gay women together one invariably has a crew cut, what’s that about !? And my gay friends from high school, why so thin, eat some chicken for gods sake and that super gay voice you use now, you didn’t sound like that in high school. Why not talk like everybody else. You don’t wanna be pigeon holed, stop acting like a pigeon.

    • Jim Moriarty says:

      12:16pm | 20/12/12

      One of my gay mates loves football, beer and heavy metal.

      A lesbian couple I know has the hugest make up collection I’ve ever seen, and I know drag queens.

      Not everyone fits into a box.

    • Pattem says:

      12:53pm | 20/12/12

      @Fronk, you stated: “Meh, being gay has never been so trendy”.

      Interesting you should use that terminology “trendy”, especially when trends come and go and are fleeting at best, ephemeral.  I think you would be better off using: “genetically favourable”.

    • Fronk says:

      01:16pm | 20/12/12

      You’ll notice I did use the word almost. I’am a computer nerd who plays football and drinks beer, my boss is a green activist who has a job, shaves and has showers. However most of the nerds I know have a pasty complexion and could use a few hours on the treadmill and most of the greenies I’ve experienced are the classic unwashed dreadlocked hipsters. That kind of stereotype bugs me too, I believe in global warming I think we waste too much etc etc but these hippies garner very little respect from the public and damage their cause, IMO anyway. Get a job, build a “green” house, donate your disposable income to greenpeace or w/e and protest on your weekends, slack buggers.

      And you’ll notice I said “most” !

    • Tbird says:

      12:29pm | 20/12/12

      It’s hard being the only gay in the village!

    • nihonin says:

      01:18pm | 20/12/12

      ‘Show your support when they come out of the closet’.

      If they are ‘coming out of the closet’ Lesbians, why would they be interested in my man undies?  wink


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