Understanding your sexuality involves figuring out if you’re attracted to boys, girls, or both. Different people figure things out at different times. Don’t worry if you’re having trouble or if you’re not sure right now.
There are many kinds of sexual orientations - straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning. If you don’t know who you’re attracted to, then you’d be considered questioning. Sometimes, “queer” is used to describe people who don’t feel like they fit into one certain area of sexual orientation.
Questioning is trying to figure out what group(s) of people you might have emotional and physical attraction to. It means you don’t know exactly how to answer questions like, “Are you gay or straight? Are you bisexual? What’s your deal?” It could also mean that you used to have an answer but don’t anymore or that you haven’t quite found one yet.
If you have questions about your sexuality or are afraid of being accepted, you can always call 1-855-201-2121 to talk.
Heterosexual, or straight, people are emotionally and physically attracted to people of the opposite sex - so, boys who like girls and girls who like boys.
Homosexual, or gay, people are emotionally and physically attracted to people of the same sex - so, boys who like boys and girls who like girls.
Lesbian is a word used for women who are gay.
Bisexual people are emotionally and physically attracted to people of the same sex and the opposite sex - so, boys who like boys and girls or girls who like boys and girls.
Asexual people don’t feel sexually attracted to anyone. They still have close, emotional friendships, though.
Transgender means a person feels like they’re trapped in the body of the wrong gender - so, a boy who thinks he should be a girl or a girl who thinks she should be a boy.
Questioning means you’re not sure about your sexual orientation. It means you’re trying to figure it out.
Nope! When you are young, it’s normal to have deep feelings about your friends, males and females. As you get older, you will discover your identity about all kinds of things, including your sexuality. Do you have anyone to talk to about your feelings? You can always call or write the counselors at 121help.me. Another great place to get help with your questions is the Trevor Project. www.trevorproject.org
Coming out is when you start to tell people that you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). It is also called “coming out of the closet,” and people who haven’t yet come out are described as “in the closet.” Being in the closet can feel isolating, stressful, and scary. Sometimes, LGBTQ people will pretend to be heterosexual, or straight, just to fit in and not feel like outcasts.
Coming out is a big step. It’s a big moment when you stop keeping a secret and become open about who you’ve discovered yourself to be. Before you can come out to others, you need to admit it to yourself. Then you can start telling others.
Many LGBTQ people feel much better and are happier in their lives after they come out. The pressure they had from holding on to a big secret has gone. Sometimes it’s easy to come out, but some people have a really hard time. It can be especially hard if you know people around you have negative views toward LGBTQ people.
Think about who you can come out to and how you might tell them. Consider coming out in stages, starting with telling people who will support you. You might have a more general talk with someone to feel out their reaction - some people will be supportive while others might be hostile, shocked, or surprised.
You can always call 1-855-201-2121 to explore how you might decide to come out. We can help you think through it and figure out what’s best for you.
Transgender describes a few kinds of gender identity things like gender dysphoria and transvestism. Transgender is not a sexuality. Gender identity is whether you feel male or female whereas sexual orientation is about who you’re attracted to. Transgender people can be lesbian, gay, heterosexual, bisexual, or asexual.
Transgender issues are often linked to lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues. That’s because all these groups sometimes feel excluded, discriminated against, or stereotyped. However, in terms of identity, transgender is a different issue than sexuality.
Gender dysphoria is when someone feels they’re trapped in the body of the wrong gender - a boy who feels like he’s a girl trapped in a boy’s body or a girl who feels like she’s a boy trapped in a girl’s body.
People with diagnosed gender dysphoria strongly want to be or already believe they are the opposite gender from the one they born with. The symptoms of this usually start from a young age. Some examples are not liking the clothes usually worn by your gender and not liking the activities that people your gender usually like. It can happen as a normal part of growing up, but for people with gender dysphoria it lasts into teenage and adult years.
Sometimes people with gender dysphoria want to change their body to look like the gender they feel that they are. This is possible through surgery and hormone treatments. It’s called “gender reassignment.” It can happen at any age, with or without medical treatment. For teenagers, puberty can be blocked at about age 16, and more hormones can be added at age 18. Surgery for gender reassignment is sometimes referred to as a “sex-change operation.”
Not all transgendered people have surgery. Some don’t think it would help; others don’t like the risks involved in the surgery; others aren’t able to have the surgery.
You can’t have the surgery until you live as the opposite sex for a full year followed by another year of taking hormones. The hormones cause men that want to look and feel like women to grow breasts. Different hormones cause women that want to look and feel like men to grow facial hair, get a deeper voice, and become more muscular.
“Pre-op” transgendered people have not yet had gender reassignment surgery. “Post-op” transgendered people have had the surgery.
Homophobia is a fear or dislike of LGBTQ people. It comes from prejudice and causes homophobic people to abuse or bully LGBTQ people.
Homophobia can take on many forms. Mainly, people that are homophobic think that there’s something wrong with being LGBTQ. There are laws against homophobia and actions that make LGBTQ people feel unsafe or abused. Your school and communities should support LGBTQ people and create a safe world for them.
Being the target of any kind of bullying can be scary and overwhelming. Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected at school, and unfortunately, words like “gay,” “dyke,” and “fag” are commonly used in high school. First, it is important to find a network of people that support you and that will stick up for you. Friends, parents, and a gay- straight alliance at your school or LGBTQ group in your town or area are a good place to start. Second, it is important to seek out an adult at school that you can talk to about being bullied.
The best way to make sure you can talk being bullied is writing stuff down. A parent or teacher can help you write down details of these experiences. Here are some good things to include:
Being bullied can feel really horrible. You might feel like you’ve tried everything, and you can’t get the bullying to stop. You should try to find an adult who will be on your side and take the bullying seriously. Sometimes it takes a combination of people like a parent, a teacher or counselor, and principle to work together to find a solution. You should never give up; everyone has a right to feel safe and respected! If you are not sure what to do next, you can always call us at 1-855-201-2121 to talk.
Don’t panic! If your friend is coming out to you, you’re a person to be trusted. They wouldn’t be telling you something this personal (and often difficult!) if they didn’t believe you’d handle it like a good friend. Here are some helpful tips for when your friend comes out:
Learn more about what it means to be gay. If your friend is comfortable, ask them questions.