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Gay Lesbian and Bisexual

How do you know if you are gay or bisexual?


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March 20, 2016 12:39PM

You are gay if you are sexually or romantically attracted to the same sex.

You are bisexual if you are sexually or romantically attracted to either sex, sometimes at the same time, sometimes at different times.


A homosexual (gay or lesbian) is a person who always, or almost always has sex (or at least fantasies about sex) with other people of the same sex -- men with men, women with women.

A heterosexual (straight) is a person who always, or almost always has sex (or at least fantasies about sex) with people of the opposite sex -- men with women, women with men.

A bisexual (bi) is a person who is comfortable having sex with men or women, or who fantasizes about sex with men and women. Most of the evidence suggests that we are born gay, straight or bisexual. When we're older and we look back at our childhoods, we remember thinking or doing things that line up with our sexual orientation, but during puberty a lot of us weren't sure.

Sexual Orientation...

It can be confusing to know if you are Gay, Bi or Straight when you are still going through puberty. You can start to wonder if you are gay or bi because of thoughts you have had, or things that you do. . Not everyone grows through this period fully aware of their sexual identity. You should not label yourself at this age as it can all change by the time you have grown through and out of puberty.

Sexual urges come in many forms. Being attracted to someone of the same sex is usually a sign that you are gay, but not always. You can have sexual fantasies about people of the same sex or even have sexual experiences (kissing, sex, hugging, dating, etc.) and still be straight. When we are young, sexual orientation is mixed in with all kinds of dynamic and sometimes uncomfortable things that we are dealing with every moment. Many times young persons will have various sexual experiences with people of both genders just as part of the process of growing up. Even people well beyond their 20's will sometimes feel the need to experiment at one time or another. There is no need to seek labels for these experiences, and in fact labels are often more harmful than helpful. As we mature and begin to seek and form important relationships with individuals, the sexual piece gets clearer and clearer.

It's something you feel deep inside. You may not know for a while and be unsure, but it's only something YOU know. No one else can tell you. Either way, listen to your heart and soul and trust that they will lead you in the direction that is right for you.

If you're a boy/girl and have a girl/boyfriend that doesn't necessarily mean you're straight. There is a big difference between curiosity and being sexually attracted. If you are attracted to those of the same sex AND those of the opposite sex then you are most likely bisexual. However, there is a lot of gray area in between gay and straight and you may find that even the term "bisexual" doesn't quite fit you.

Beyond just sex...

Keep in mind who you want to be with in a relationship. Who do you want to marry? Who do you want to grow old with? Most important, who do you love? Can you love a man or a woman? Do you want to be loved by a man or a woman or both? Ultimately, the "plumbing" isn't very important -- it's the ability to love!

Personal experience...

"I'm Bi and I knew it as soon as I saw a guy I liked..... unfortunately that story ends with crying, but..... it is a gut feeling. During your teenage years you have to take whatever that says with a pinch of salt. I admit there will be times when you don't trust yourself, and during this time you will feel bad and even depressed (hope it won't happen to you) but I found (the hard way) that the best thing to do is talk to someone you feel safe that they won't spread the news" before you're ready.

Unfortunately, a lot of us learn that homosexuality and bisexuality are "bad" long before we find out that we are gay or bi. You have to unlearn that, and it can take a long time. Go at your own pace, but keep learning. Keep repeating this over and over until you believe it: "There is nothing wrong with being gay (or lesbian, or bisexual)."

So what should I do?

Enjoy the exploration, have fun and be safe. It's more important to be concerned about learning how to enjoy your friendships and relationships in healthy and mature ways. The sexual part sorts itself out for most of us by the time we make it into our mid-20's or so. Bad news: the same things that cause heterosexual relationships to fail can also cause gay relationships to fail. Good news: the same things that sustain heterosexual relationships can sustain gay relationships.

In many communities, there are resources for gay, lesbian and bisexual teens and young adults. Try contacting a local chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). They will know of good resources in your area. You may also talk to a trusted adult or a professional counselor. (Most licensed professionals will at least be able to recommend resources, even if you don't want to become a client.) You can also ask a librarian for good books about sexual orientation.