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P11.30 Out later in life: working with older same-sex attracted men
  1. B Sudarto
  1. Victorian AIDS Council (VAC)

Abstract

Introduction Coming to terms with one’s sexuality can be a lengthy process. Coming out in this context refers to the process of accepting same-sex attraction and informing others of one’s sexual identity. Coming out is different for each individual, with some men come out later in life after years of denying their sexuality.

There are issues specific to this population. These include overcoming internalised prejudice resulting from prolonged exposure to homophobia, disclosing same-sex attraction to their opposite-sex partners and children, as well as re-establishing the self as a gay or bisexual man to their social and professional network.

To date, there are limited services available for men who come out later in life. As a result, many of these men feel isolated, especially from the mainstream youth-centric gay culture. Internalised prejudice can also prevent them from befriending other gay men, seeking support and education. All of these can have a detrimental effect on their well being.

Methods Momentum is a peer-based workshop for same-sex attracted men aged 27 years and above. The workshop provides support and education relating to sexuality and sexual health. Feedback from Momentum participants for the period of February 2014 to April 2015 are collected and analysed.

Results Participants expressed heightened knowledge of their sexuality after attending the workshop. The workshop also provided them with an educational environment relating to sexual health. Additionally, many stated the social benefit of the workshop, as they formed friendships that expand their social support network. Many participants felt supported and connected to the gay community, indicating positive benefits gained from attending the workshop.

Conclusion The needs of gay men who came out later in life must be recognised to assist them overcoming homophobia, construct a supportive social network, and provide sexual health education relevant to their lived experiences to improve their well being.

Disclosure of interest statement The Victorian AIDS Council is funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. No pharmaceutical grants were received in the delivery of the program.

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