Discovering and celebrating one’s sexual identity is something that everyone must deal with as they are growing up. In the past only one sexuality – heterosexuality – was viewed as appropriate but today there are multiple sexual orientations that are recognised by mainstream society and considered normal by cultural standards as well as international mental health organisations. Heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and questioning are all sexual orientations that appear on the sexuality spectrum, and recognising and coping with whichever sexual identity you identify with is an important part of maturing into an adult.
Statistically, heterosexuality is the most common sexual orientation in the world today. Heterosexuals are sexually attracted to others of the opposite sex (male heterosexuals are attracted to females and female heterosexuals are attracted to males), and their sexual activity is usually limited to interactions with the opposite sex.
Homosexuality is perhaps the main minority sexuality in the world, though gathering statistics on this can be difficult. Homosexuals are sexually attracted to others of their own sex (male homosexuals are attracted to other males, and female homosexuals, often called lesbians, are attracted to other females), and their sexual activity is usually limited to interactions with the same sex. Sometimes homosexuals are also called “gay” or “lesbian”.
Bisexuality is a unique sexual orientation which many heterosexuals and homosexuals don’t even fully recognise. Bisexuals are sexually attracted to others of either sex (male bisexuals are attracted to other males as well as females, and female bisexuals are attracted to other females as well as males), and their sexual activity is not limited to either sex. The intensity of attraction to males or females is particular to each bisexual, though many bisexuals say that they are more often attracted to a particular sex but can occasionally become attracted to specific individuals as well.
Individuals who are questioning their sexuality are exploring their sexual attraction to others and trying to make sense of their feelings and patterns. These individuals are reluctant to classify themselves as having any particular sexual identity, and instead embrace the fluidity of their attractions whenever and with whoever they occur.
Coping with Any Sexuality
Recognising and coping with any sexuality can be embarrassing, frustrating and ultimately bring a lot of stress into a person’s life. Many people simply assume that they are heterosexual because it is the predominant sexual orientation today, and it is only later that they realize that in fact they are homosexual, bisexual or questioning. Coping with sexuality can be tough, but it can be easier if:
You acknowledge each attraction when it happens, rather than trying to stifle any natural feelings.
You look for a pattern in your attractions. This will point you towards your natural sexuality.
You do not deny what you know. If you are homosexual or bisexual, don’t try to convince yourself that you are heterosexual. All that will result is a lot of headaches.
You embrace questioning. If you are not ready to classify yourself as a specific sexuality, then don’t.
You seek support. If you feel isolated due to your sexuality, look around your local, regional or even national or international community for organisations that will support your lifestyle.
You take yourself seriously. Announcing your sexuality to anyone who will listen isn’t necessary. Show your maturity by respecting yourself and your relationships and giving them the attention and privacy that they deserve.
You are honest with yourself and others. If you realise that you are a particular sexual identity, don’t keep it a secret from those you love. Remember, given time almost anyone can adjust to almost anything.
Coping with one’s identity is something that all teenagers must come to terms with as they mature. This process is never easy, but it can be less stressful if teens recognise their natural inclinations and seek support when needed. Talking about sexuality can be uncomfortable, but when it is necessary it must never be ignored.
@doughnut - I am are glad you are proud and do not feel you have to hide it away <3. Izzy.
Iz - 17-Feb-17 @ 2:37 PM
I've been questioning my sexuality for a while. I'm 15 and female, and tonight I had my first kiss with my beautiful girlfriend. I'm now proud to say I identify as bisexual!
doughnut - 16-Feb-17 @ 9:45 PM
@teenager - then you just ignore it. Many people of your age are trying to find themselves, some more than others. On the other hand some teenagers don't need to and are happy in their own skin from an early age, and it sounds like you fit into that category. No one is forcing you to find yourself, it's merely that the options are there to read around and explore if you need. It's great that you are content with your own sexuality, so you can relax - you don't really have to question, whether you should question or not.
TeenIssues - 28-May-15 @ 1:34 PM
So I'm in my mid teens and basically I'm just questioning my sexuality. The thing is I dont know why. Whenever I'm in a pack of teens, I've never once thought "hey that guy turns me on". Like the thought of being bi or gay has never come up in my SUB consciousness... Only ever when I actively question it. So it would be allot of help if you could discuss why teens in the modern era are so pressured to "find themselves" because it can becomes a looming torture that really is unnecessary. I just feel like if i have to be actively questioning whether or not I'm homo or bisexual, then it isn't who I naturally am. Anyway please write me back.
teenager - 26-May-15 @ 5:18 AM
@Issac - thanks for your comments.
TeenIssues - 24-Feb-15 @ 2:55 PM
@Nobody - you don't really need to stamp a label on yourself just yet, or even ever, if you so feel. Some people may suddenly decide they are gay later on in life after having lived a life as a hetrosexual person. Others may spend part of their lives living as a bi-sexual or gay and then become hetrosexual as they settle into middle age. Many others swap and change their sexuality throughout their lives. There really are no hard and fast rules. What is most important is that you relax and enjoy your future, however your life unfolds. I'm glad the link helped.
TeenIssues - 24-Feb-15 @ 12:52 PM
Hi. I guess this is kinda related, but I haven't seen anything about gender identity. While teens are figuring out who they're more likely to form attractions to, they are also trying to figure out who they are. Personally, I identify as male and I've only told a few select friends. I've gotten nothing but support from them. My parents... I fear that it'll be an entirely different story. They're religious and I've gotten teased when I thought I was bicurious. Also, my dad will yell out derogatory terms when is comes to gays. It saddens me because I prefer males and I consider myself male, thus technically making me gay. Long story short, I would appreciate and article on gender identity. Some teens need help with that and how to cope with it because it's an extremely confusing time which can be filled with fear or shame due to lack of support or the thought that they may not get support.
Issac - 22-Feb-15 @ 4:35 PM
Thanks for the link. To be honest, I'm worried about the fact that I don't know if I'm straight or bisexual. I feel like I should already know what my sexuality is. But Iappreciate the help and I'm glad that I'm not only one who feels this way.
Nobody - 22-Feb-15 @ 6:54 AM
@Nobody - it seems like you are not uncomfortable with the situation, which is good and as specified in the article discovering and celebrating one’s sexual identity is something that everyone must deal with as they are growing up. However, should you need any further advice or someone to talk to, you can contact the Lesbian and Gay Foundation via the link here. I hope this helps.
TeenIssues - 19-Feb-15 @ 11:32 AM
For the past few years, I've been questioning my sexuality. In the past I considered myself straight and only had crushes on boys, but I've started to feel attraction to women as well. I've never had a girlfriend before, but I want to be in a relationship with one. I think I might be bisexual, but I just don't know.
Nobody - 17-Feb-15 @ 6:19 PM
@nevershowsup5 - I'm sorry to hear your parents are unhappy about your sexuality, when I imagine it took quite a lot to broach the subject with them. However, at the same time as they need to begin to see your point of view, you might want to look at things from their point of view. It may come as a bit of a shock when they perhaps were thinking about you having a conventional hetrosexual relationship, so they may need some time to adjust. However, hopefully your parents will come around to the opinion that you can still find love and happiness through a same-sex relationship, as a hetrosexual one and ultimately every parent wants to see their child happy. You may want to direct them to the Being Gay is Okay, not-for-profit website where they can get some support, link here from the advice for parents and friends section. I hope this helps.
TeenIssues - 16-Feb-15 @ 2:01 PM
Hi. Ive recently just came out as lesbian, which I'm definitely not ashamed off, I'm proud! My friends have been absolutely incredible throughout it all, helping me and never leaving myself. My family on the other hand, ugh... I have to pretend to be something im not. My mum is in basic denial, she'd put digs into the topic whenever the topic comes up, and she would said that im not lesbian and I can't be... I thought parents wanted their kids to be happy? Help me please
nevershowsup5 - 13-Feb-15 @ 8:56 PM
Hi. This is a response to 'Silverstein's' question. I'm writing an ebook at the moment and looking for genuine people with genuine issues. I have a question and answer format in the second half of my book and I attempt to answer these questions from my own point of view. (I'm a non-judgemental, Agnostic counsellor). I'm looking for material that I can use to help other people. Would you allow me to take your question and answer it in my own non-judgemental way in my ebook? The ebook is about people trying to come out and it also covers issues like depression, suicide,panic attacks, bullying etc.
Piaras - 28-Dec-12 @ 1:05 AM
Hi, This is an issue that is hard for me to explain...so here goes!
Basically i think i'm Gay, and i really wan't to be because it feels right! i have just come out of an AMAZING relationship with a boy (i have gone out with girls in the past) but this felt much different, i mean when i was with a girl it felt more like a 'Friend' but with my ex (boy) i felt like i was in love! like i would do ANYTHING for him! i also find myself having sexual attractions to guys....yet at the same time i feel some attraction to women when i walk past lingerie ads ect but overall i feel like i love guys more! so my question is Am i Gay?! :/
Silverstein - 27-Dec-11 @ 11:11 PM
I'm gay and I'm proud, I have always been gay, I guess when straight guys start to be attracted to girls instead of hate them, that never really happened to me, I just started respecting them in a friendly manner. I have lots of friends of both genders, and get on equally as well with all of them. And if your reading this then your obviously a teenage homosexual, and if you think that no one cares or understands, I do. Don't EVER let people tell you your not good enough because you different. For more info google "it gets better" because it does. And if your questioning then the gay community will welcome you with open arms ;).