Figuring out your sexual identity
Figuring out your sexual identity
How do I know what my sexual identity is?
- Most people know from a very young age who they want to have relationships with. For others, it can take until their adults or longer to make sense of their sexuality.
- But remember, sexuality is NOT a choice! It is different for everyone and is a natural part of who you are. Everyone has the right to feel comfortable and to be accepted for who they are.
- It’s normal to feel confused or curious about whether you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, or queer. Lots of people also feel this way because others in their life may think sexuality is a ‘choice’ or assume that being straight is ‘normal.
- Just because you define your sexuality one way now, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind later. This doesn’t mean you’re ‘confused’ or ‘choosing’. It just means you’re still learning about who you are and what attractions and relationships feel right to you.
- Your sexuality can be the same all your life or you might define yourself differently as you learn more about yourself.
Questioning my sexuality.
Understanding yourself takes time. So it’s normal to have times where you feel unsure about your sexuality. But keep in mind:
- Having a crush, sexual thoughts, or experimenting with someone who is different sex or gender to people you’re usually attracted to - doesn’t automatically mean you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer.
- You don’t have to be dating or have a sexual experience with someone to know you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer. You might be doing these things and still not feel sure about your sexuality.
- You may not have any sexual interest in anyone. This is normal too.
For some people, realizing they’re attracted to someone of the same sex or gender can be confronting, confusing, and emotionally difficult.
These feelings are usually because of fears and worries that the crushes or relationships they have won’t be accepted by the people around them.
For most people, understanding their sexuality and being themselves is usually relieving, freeing, and exciting!
Everyone has the right to be themselves without needing to explain this to anyone. Feeling pressure to hide who you are can feel really stressful and affect your mental and physical wellbeing over time, it can be helpful to seek professional help and support from a counselor or therapist. Support systems also can help you cope as you understand yourself.
What can I DO to help me make sense of my sexual identity?
Here are ideas to help you make sense of your sexuality:
- It’s ok to have sexual thoughts, fantasies, or experiences with people of the same sex or gender. Noticing how these make you feel might help you make sense of your sexuality.
- Some people can find that making sense of their sexuality is confusing and stressful. If difficult feelings come up for you, it may be helpful to talk to a safe person or professional.
- If you need more professional support, contact or visit an LGBT service or support service that works with people in this community.
- You may find it helpful to find out about local events in LGBT communities for people your age. It’s ok to go along as an ‘ally’ if you don’t want to share your sexuality.
- Talk to LGBT people you know and trust about what helped them make sense of their sexuality. Some people also find it helpful talking to LGBT people in online support communities.
- Learn more about what it’s like being in the LGBT community. Check out Internet articles, books, fiction, blogs, music, shows, and video games about their experiences.
Remember: You are not alone
Whatever your orientation or gender identity, it's important to realize that there are lots of people like you. Many of them may have the same emotions and questions that you have.
It can be comforting and helpful to talk to people who know what you're going through. You can find these people through local or online groups. If you don't know where to find support, check with:
- Your doctor.
- Your school counselor or trusted teacher.
- A therapist or other counselor.
- LGBTQ clubs and organizations in your community.