I’m always fascinated by how much time and money gay men are willing to spend on their appearance, entertainment and their social lives.
Many gay people I know and clients I work with don’t hesitate to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on personal training, beauty products, healthcare and skin care treatments, plastic surgery and non-surgical beauty enhancements as well as expensive clothes. This is not to mention the huge sums of money gay men are often prepared to pay for tickets to dance parties, purchasing drugs and alcohol.
When it comes to investing in their emotional well-being, most Australian gay men don’t do very well. The sad reality is Australian gay men as a whole are much more reluctant to invest in such worthwhile endeavours such as personal therapy, life coaching or personal development courses.
Gay men: Australia vs North America
I used to travel to North America on a yearly basis for more than a decade and made many friendships with a lot of North American gay men. What always amazed me was how many North American gay men are, as a whole, more open to the idea of personal development and investing in long term psychotherapy and/or counselling at one or several times throughout their lives.
This captured my curiosity and made me wonder, what is the difference between Australian men and North American men, and why are Australian gay men so reluctant to invest in their personal development?
I’ve often thought of therapy as ‘gym for the brain’. If more Australian gay men took to therapy the way they took to the gym for their bodies, we’d all be much mentally healthier.
While I don’t think that Australian gay men are any more or less impacted by such things as homophobia or growing up gay in a straight world, it does seem that North American gay men have evolved more in terms of dealing with the pain that comes from these experiences. Generally they have more confidence in themselves, their ability to go after what they want and to assert themselves with others.
Of course, these are generalisations and there are no hard and fast rules, but come from my observations over the last 15 years. There are always exceptions to any generalisation and you may be objecting to my conclusions as you read this.
What the statistics say about Australian gay men
The statistics on Australian gay men, support my theory that as a whole, we experience lower mental health than the general population. In researching my final thesis for my Gestalt studies, I came across some alarming statistics about Australian gay men.
The Private Lives Survey asked the question: In the last 2 weeks, have you experienced any of the following? Check out the image below to see the results:
What’s alarming is the high percentages of gay men that are experiencing poor mental health, with over 15% feeling they would be better off dead.
So what difference does therapy make to gay men?
So in light of all this, I wanted to cast some light on the mystery of therapy and counselling and educate gay men on the advantages of therapy in your self-development.
Here is my list of 20 ways therapy and counselling helps you become a better gay man:
- Therapy helps you understand how your past pain effects your present life
- Therapy helps you become aware of your dysfunctional relationship patterns
- Therapy helps you understand how you avoid intimacy with other men
- Therapy helps you learn how you sabotage your relationships
- Therapy helps you to love yourself and love others
- Therapy helps you accept your body
- Therapy helps you be kinder to yourself and kinder to others
- Therapy helps you to repair ruptured relationships
- Therapy helps you to end toxic relationships
- Therapy helps you to believe in yourself and what you’re capable of
- Therapy helps to develop compassion for your own struggles and the struggles of others
- Therapy helps you develop your social conscience
- Therapy helps you build a better relationship with yourself
- Therapy helps you reconnect with the wounded child within you
- Therapy helps you learn how to support yourself in difficult circumstances
- Therapy helps you be less reactive and reflect on your emotions
- Therapy helps you learn how to manage your emotions
- Therapy helps you to feel a greater sense of joy and happiness in your life
- Therapy helps you to change destructive self-harming behaviours
- Therapy helps you learn to communicate more effectively
Are you an LGBTIQ person who needs support dealing with your sexuality or a gay relationship?
If so, consider joining our Sydney gay men’s group. Visit this page to find out more.