Sexuality; Straight, Gay, Bi, Transexual

During your teenage years, your sexual feelings will start to develop and these feelings may continue to change over time. There are times when you might feel confused or worried about who you are sexually.

Most people at some point in their life fancy someone of the same sex. Finding someone attractive does not mean you are gay; these feelings are just part of natural sexual development.

It is important that you allow time for these feelings to develop and that you don’t label yourself too early. It is okay to be unsure or to change your mind.

Check out Josh’s story in the videos below from BBC’s Waterloo Road.

Sexualities
People attracted to the opposite sex are usually called straight, people largely attracted to people of the same sex are called gay or lesbian and people attracted to both men and women are called bisexual. It may be that you feel you don’t fit into any of these categories as it often takes time to fully understand who you are and what sex you are attracted to.

Early sexual feelings often emerge during childhood and then develop once you reach adulthood. Sometimes your feelings change and sometimes they come out at a later stage.

At least one in ten people in the world are attracted to people of the same or both sexes. Remember, you are not alone feeling like this. There are some good resources available to help you through this difficult period of your life. See the list of web links below for further advice and support.

You are who you are
You may have been raised to think that everyone is ‘straight’, and you might be at the stage when you’re not sure if this applies to you. Nobody knows what makes someone gay, lesbian or bisexual – you don’t choose your sexuality, it’s just part of who you are.

If you’re worried about your sexuality, the most important thing to remember is not to panic. You are still the same person whatever your feelings. Try to be yourself and whatever your sexuality, it doesn’t stop you doing well in your school, work or personal life.

The best thing to do is to take time to come to terms with your feelings – if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or just unsure don’t think you need to rush into ‘coming out’ or being open about your sexuality.

Take your time and don’t feel under pressure to tell anyone. When you feel ready to discuss your feelings you may be scared of how people will react and whether or not they will treat you different. You could try confiding in someone you trust and get used to telling them before telling others. This will help to build your self-confidence and make you feel more positive. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable sharing this personal information about yourself – remember it is your choice whether and when you tell anyone.

Your age, culture and religion will play an important role in how you can accept and tell others of your sexuality. Unfortunately, some teenagers experience homophobia. People can be treated differently, bullied or assaulted because of their sexuality. This is because some people feel threatened by what they don’t understand. Hurtful experiences can affect how you feel about yourself, your confidence and your studies so it is important that you have some support in coping with this.

When you have discovered your sexuality, you may find that it is different to that of your friends. You might not know anyone else who is gay, lesbian or bisexual. If so, think about mixing with people that are in the same situation – it might seem that you’re the only person experiencing these feelings, but you aren’t. What about contacting a group where you can meet people in the same situation?

There are many agencies both local and national that can help and support you and give you the advice you need. Have a think about contacting these – there will probably be a LGB (Lesbian Gay Bisexual) group near you. Take a look at the national websites listed.

Who can help?

The BBC Radio One website contains advice on how to deal with your feelings about your sexuality at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/advice/factfile_az/coming_out

The AVERT website provides advice on avoiding STIs (sexually transmitted infections), AIDS and other aspects of sexual health at www.avert.org.uk/.

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