14 Women on the Moment They Knew They Were Gay

“I could feel myself gravitating toward girls in ways that I didn’t with boys.”

Regardless of how you identify—whether it be as lesbian, asexualanother term, or nothing at all—how you choose to label yourself is not based on a checklist. Sexuality is a spectrum, and there’s a ton of gray area on that line in terms of gender and preferences. So to be clear: There’s no tell-all way that would determine if you’re gay (or anything else).

But by definition, to identify as gay, it would mean that you maybe feel sexual and/or romantic attraction to someone of your same gender identity, says LGBTQ+ expert Kryss Shane. “Sometimes it’s a general awareness, other times it’s self-recognition from a same-sex friendship that begins to feel like something more, and sometimes it’s through sexual exploration,” Shane explains.

However, just because some people experience an aha moment does not mean you will too, and that’s perfectly normal. So if you find yourself questioning if you are gay—while, again, there’s no definitive way to know—it might be helpful to read these 14 women’s stories on the moment they knew that they were.

1. “I’ve always kind of known but I kept it in because I didn’t think my family would be supportive. But then in high school, I met this girl and we started dating secretly. After that, there was no going back, and I eventually came out. Being with her was worth the scariness of coming out to my parents.” —Andrea, 19

2. “I’d say throughout my life, I had a clue in the back of my head. But up until the end of high school, I was always interested in guys—and even dated a guy my senior year. I told everyone I was probably going to marry him and he was totally the one. Toward the end, I ended up drunk hooking up with a girl friend I probably always had a thing for…and then that kept happening….” —Nicole, 21

3. “I went into foster care at age 16 without knowing what being gay meant. In my first group home, a girl kept flirting with me and I didn’t even know how to interact with the opposite sex, let alone the same sex. So a few months later, I was on Facebook finding out more about what it meant to be LGBTQ+. By the time I finished reading a few articles, I just knew this is who I was.” —Chaya Milchtein, 24

4. “I first realized that I was gay when I was 10. My babysitter handed me a big box of Star Wars action figures, and being the marriage-obsessed child I was, I began to pair them off into couples (one male doll with one female doll). By the time I was at the bottom of the box, I ran out of male action figures and was left with two beautiful blue female aliens. I picked them up, stood them side by side on the windowsill, and something just clicked. It was the very first time I ever even considered the possibility of two girls being together, but it made perfect sense to me sitting there looking at these action figures side by side!” —Stacy Carter, 27

5. “One night, I had been out late with work friends and three of us ended up in a guy friend’s bed. We were all spooning when he passed out, and the girl in front of me turned around to face me. As soon as we kissed, I knew there was no going back.” —Beck Power, 35

6. “I was 31 and a single mother of a 1-year-old the day I realized I was in love with my coworker. She and I had been inseparable for more than two years. When she left for a weeklong solo retreat, I missed her terribly, and when it ended, I was the first person she called. I found myself bouncing around the room, overjoyed to hear from her. When I hung up, I stopped dead in my tracks. I could see that I was in that moment, the very embodiment of every chick-flick heroine who’d ever been in love. I was in love…with a woman.” —Kristen Smith, 35

7. “At 16, I kissed a girl at a party for the very first time and it was magical. Everything flowed so naturally, my body just knew what to do. I reacted to her in a way that felt right—the way I had always envisioned a first kiss to be. I tried saying I was bisexual for a quick minute, but I could feel myself gravitating toward girls in ways that I didn’t with boys.” —Natasha Ponomaroff, 27

8. “While in college, I started developing a deep friendship with a woman and we were best friends for years. I always had feelings for her, and little did I know, she had those same feelings. We both pushed these feelings down because both of us identified as straight. I was happy living in denial until we kissed for the first time when I was 23. At that moment, the denial lifted. I knew I was gay without a doubt.” —Allison Burnett, 33

9. “When I was 22, I got hit by a car. I was barely injured, fortunately, but my red Volkswagen that I’d been driving since high school was totaled. Even though I wasn’t injured, the impact from the hit felt like it had rattled me to my very core. I woke up the next day, looked in the mirror, and thought, Holy shit. I’m gay. In retrospect, my epiphany was probably aided by my post-accident ER experience. I sat in the ER for eight hours waiting for treatment and none of my family showed up to hold my hand. I realized I had been living an elaborate lie for people who didn’t care as much about me as I did about them.” —Kaiti, 24

10. “I knew something was different and I had a connection toward females from a young age, but I didn’t know what gay or lesbian really was at that time. I messed around with another woman at 13 and put the words together around 14.” —Shari Drayer, 34

11. “I spent the night at my friend’s house and when she tucked me in, she kissed me good night. I swear I heard angels! The clouds parted, a light came through, and a weight I didn’t even know I was carrying was suddenly lifted. I kissed a girl and I liked it, haha!” —Robyn Vie Carpenter, 52

12. “At 16, I couldn’t understand why despite dating really amazing guys, I never really was that interested in them. I had never considered that I could be a lesbian, until the very moment I realized I was. One night as I was lying in bed, I had an epiphany. The night before, a straight couple walked into the room at a party I was at. All my friends were talking about how hot the guy was, and I realized that I thought that about the girl. All of a sudden, all these moments in my life that didn’t make sense before became clear.” —Lana Dingwall, 30

13. “I remember Google-searching ‘how to know if you’re bisexual’ when I was in my early 20s. Truthfully, the only article that should pop up when someone searches that phrase is, ‘You know you’re bisexual if you’re Google-searching whether or not you’re bisexual,’ haha. But after I started openly dating women, I realized I was a lesbian and came out again.” —Veronica Dobson, 31

14. “I knew for sure that I was gay at 10. I had my first innocent kiss with a girl and it was a feeling, knowing, and clarity, even at that age, that immediately verified that I liked girls more than boys. ” —Stephanie Wagner, 41

Am I gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual or LGBTQ+?

Expert advice on this commonly asked question about sexuality and figuring out your sexual orientation.

Regardless of your age, asking yourself ‘Am I gay?’ or questioning your sexuality is perfectly normal. While many gay and lesbian people say they always knew, that’s not always the case and there are just as many adults who come out later in life.

But how do you know if you are gay (or any of the wonderful identities along the LGBTQ+ spectrum and bisexual and pansexual to queer), or just going through a period of questioning your sexual orientation? We spoke to sexuality experts, therapists and LGBTQ+ health care professionals to help you

Am I Gay, Straight, Or Bisexual? Quiz!

Are you confused about your sexual orientation? Are you wondering if you are gay, straight, or bisexual? Most people had it figured out as they grow up while others stay confused. The following quiz highlight many more facts which can help you if you’re concerned about yours. Take this quiz!

Stay with the girl, you guys have really gotten serious and you want to keep things going, let him down easy.

I would never go out with a girl in the first place!

Even though you are interested, you stick with the girl because you are afraid of what people will think.

End things with the girl, and see where you and this guy can go.

I wouldn’t ever date a girl, so I wouldn’t worry about it!

Screw the girls. I don’t like them anyway. Guys are wayy hotter anyway.

Move on and keep trying. Some girl out there will be mine someday!

You are not interested. So, you don’t talk to him and you don’t lead him on or send him mixed signals!

Tell him you are not interested… Let him down easy.

Woo hoo! Guy on guy action! It doesn’t get much better than this!

This is a stereotype and is not even related to the quiz! I want a freaking answer!

Gay Test – Am I Gay, Straight, or Bisexual? Take this quiz to find out now!

Scientists define sexuality as a spectrum that covers a wide range of sexual preferences and identities that can evolve over time. Many people don’t even find their true sexuality until they are in their 30s! Do you wonder if you’re straight, bi or gay on the spectrum? Take the test and find out!

Answer the questions truthfully and discover the true nature of your sexuality!

You may also want to take our Mental Age TestCPS Test and Typing WPM Test.

How to Know if You Are Gay

This article was co-authored by Eric A. Samuels, PsyD. Eric A. Samuels, Psy.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice in San Francisco and Oakland, California. He received a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from The Wright Institute in 2016 and is a member of the American Psychological Association and Gaylesta, the Psychotherapist Association for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Eric specializes in working with men, young adults, and people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. There are 20 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 4,511,142 times.

Figuring out your sexual orientation can be really confusing, but there’s no rush to label yourself. Your sexual identity is personal, and it’s okay to explore how you feel. If you suspect you may be gay, examine your thoughts and behaviors to figure out if you’re attracted to the same sex. Additionally, consider experimenting with your sexuality. If you identify as gay, be proud of who you are and come out when you feel ready.

This Checklist Will Determine Your „Straight Number“

Are you gay or straight? Find out with this simple, completely accurate checklist.

You get one point for each one you check. Your total number of points determines your “straight number” and that number determines whether you are gay or straight. It’s science.

How Do You Know If You’re Gay, Straight, or Something in Between?

In a society where most of us are expected to be straight, it can be difficult to take a step back and ask whether you’re gay, straight, or something else.

You’re the only person who can figure out what your orientation truly is.

How to Get a Gay Male Friend (for Girls)

This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow’s Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 260,706 times. Learn more…

Popular TV shows and films have portrayed gay men as fabulous, supportive, and amusing confidants for straight women. However, this portrayal of gay men isn’t realistic, and it’s not really a good idea to seek out friends based on superficial details like their sexual orientation. Your best bet for a close, lasting friendship is to find people who you enjoy spending time around and build a connection with them over time. If you happen to connect with a man who is gay and form a friendship, there’s nothing wrong with that, but make sure that you treat them as you would anyone else and be careful not to make assumptions about them.

Sexuality: am I gay, lesbian or bisexual?

Sexual feelings are an important part of many people’s lives and can bring a lot of pleasure. Although these feelings are exciting, they can also be complicated and confusing.

If you’re trying to work out how you feel, what you’re into, and who you are attracted to, remember that you’re not the only one.

Everyone is different and your feelings and desires are personal to you. The important thing is that you are comfortable with who you are and how you feel.

QUIZ: How gay are you, really?

A highly scientific quiz to establish just how gay you really are, henny.

Ever wondered how gay you are? Luckily there’s a quiz for that. 

8 Signs Your Girl Crush Is More Than a Crush

The term „girl crush“ gets thrown around a lot, usually because people want to be able to say, „I am totally in love with this girl!“ without having people think they’re saying, No, really, I am actually in love with this girl. Like, in a gay way. But what if you’re not sure which category you fall into? What if you identify as heterosexual, or thought you did, but you’re having some feelings that might be described as more-than-friendly for your female friend? You’ve come to the right place. Let’s figure this out together.

1. You talk to each other all the time. Girl crush: You want to tell her everything about this awesome new guy you just met and every single thing you ate that day. Mostly via emojis, but You want to hear about everything she did today and also gaze at her mouth and wish you were kissing it maybe a little bit.

2. Sometimes you touch her. Girl crush: A quick slap on the shoulder when she’s hilarious, and hugs good-bye. Oh, and the occasional jokey boob grab when you guys are You’ve put your hand on her thigh to emphasize a point and at one point you touched her hand in a way that made you kind of nervous.

3. You think she should leave her boyfriend. Girl crush: Because he’s not good enough for her and you can see she’s not Because of all those reasons and also you’d be way better for her. Or not. Whatever, no big deal.

4. You wanna know all about her life. Girl crush: Where she shops, what body wash she uses, what nail color is her What she was like as a little kid, what she wants in a relationship, if she’s ever thought about being with a girl.

5. You give her awesome gifts. Girl crush: A lipstick she’s been wanting, and you always have her favorite snacks when she comes to hang at your A personalized playlist, something referencing an inside joke between the two of you, something you remembered her talking about and surprised her with later.

6. You stare at her. A lot. Girl crush: She has such amazing hair. Seriously, what is she using? A salt spray? Foam gel? Glossing salt gel foam spray for fine to medium hair?Crush: She has such amazing eyes and an amazing mouth and she’s probably a great kisser, her neck has these little freckles that kind of look like a kitten yawning, her hands are really soft, and her fingers are kind of perfect, and also…

7. You miss her when she’s not around. Girl crush: Drinking wine and watching Scandal without her just isn’t the same. She always has such witty remarks about Huck’s dead eyes. What was that hilarious thing she said last time? Ugh, can’t even You can’t wait to do literally anything at all with her again. Go to dinner? Yes. Go to the park? Absolutely. Stare at a wall and breathe the same oxygen that she is breathing? Oh god, any day of the week.

8. You’re a little crush: Of her Ashley Benson wardrobe and her never-tangled hair and also she looks good in capris. Who looks good in capris?!Crush: Of her boyfriend when you see them snuggling during a movie.

Obviously this isn’t every single way to tell, but it’s a damn good start. Also of note, just because you’re having more crush than girl-crush feelings for your friend, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely gay or bisexual, it just means you have a crush on this cooler-than-normal woman. But maybe recognizing that will bring you to the conclusion that you’re gay or bi, and if that’s what it means, I am so excited for you!

Either way, this is only good news, I promise. Unless, of course, she’s not into you, but we’ll cross that bridge later, together, with wine.

If You’re Asking, ‘Am I Gay? Lesbian? Bi? Trans? Queer?’ Here’s a Start

Maybe the questions bubbled up over time. Maybe the realization hit you suddenly. Am I gay? Everyone calls me a girl, but I don’t feel like one. Why do I feel different from the people I’m around? Those feelings can be the beginning of a journey of self-discovery that can be rewarding, but also extremely daunting.

I’m A Gay Man In Love With A Straight Girl

Personally, I didn’t want her working for us. Let’s call “her” Katie.

There was another intern in the running to be a member of our tightly bound, Robin Hood, Knights of the Round Table group. Half of the group teased me, saying I only wanted him because he was cute (he was). Half of the group agreed with me that he was intelligent and brought something new and fresh to our organization (he did). It was a good mix of both. What’s better than a summer paid internship in a field you love? A summer internship in a field you love with a cute boy. (Cue the memory of the State Farm commercial where the girls crash their car and one says, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there…with a hot guy.”) But I lost the battle and now Katie was going to be our new intern. I was bitter, not only because I lost a conflict but because it was another girl (reference point—my organization only had three men on a staff of seven females).

How glad am I that I lost the fight. Losing the fight helped me find love.

She was a good interviewer, a shy wallflower who I think could be best described as the type of girl in an indie romantic comedy who took cues from Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer but had the inoffensive, alluring uniqueness Zooey failed to achieve. She walked into the office on the first day with shoulders slightly curled inward in a partially defensive, yet humbled posture and an appreciative soft burn smile on her face. And without missing a beat—because I rarely do—I asked her to twirl for me. Yes, twirl, like Cinderella when her fairy godmother gave her the dress she’d use to “get turnt up” at the Ball.

I complimented her outfit with a sarcastic comment.

Now, if you know me, I’m the gayest of gay. I’ve known I was gay since 12. I constantly and adamantly stand by the statement that Zac Efron and I are going to be on the cover of People magazine someday. Do I check every stereotypical homosexual box? No. Do I fit most? Yes, and that’s okay with me. I have mostly female friends who I cherish deeply, so Katie and I becoming friends off the bat was not something surprising to me.

What was unusual was how at some point during the six months I met her, I fell head over heels in love with her.

What threw me not only was falling for her, but the type of love it was. I don’t want to have sex with her (though we jokingly—or seriously—say that if we are both single in our 50s we’ll live together, in separate beds and discuss poetry and maybe go do the Charleston at a speakeasy), but I want to be with her. It’s rare to find someone who completes you so well and I think the fact that it happened so suddenly, so randomly, and with someone I never thought it would happen with is what makes me giddy and uncomfortable at the same time.

There is no shame in me saying I’ve never been a person who thought they would find love. I feel, in a delusion of grandeur or young adult stupidity that I was destined for more, to do more and love would get in the way. It’s a sacrifice, and nothing in life worth getting comes without sacrifices. That’s my emotional side talking. Intellectually I know it’s fear raging—fear of making more mistakes in relationships, fear of jumping into the unknown, and—for the umpteenth time—landing flat on my face, fear of hoping for something and ending up raw, exposed, and desolate, forcing a smile and giving sage advice that, as Alice from Alice In Wonderland would say, she “seldom follows.” So it was easier to push things away and focus on things I could control. Falling in love isn’t something you can control, and when one says it’s going to happen randomly, they really mean it’s going to happen randomly.

And the randomness, which was so far away from even the illusions I granted myself every so often took a form I never thought it would. A form of a girl who dresses like she is trying to beat Katniss Everdeen in the challenge to become Panem’s Next Dystopian Superstar while at the same time giving Keira Knightley’s thin and period piece frame a run for her money.

The truth is, the fact someone could know me so well before I know myself, and accept me so fully was what I loved about her. It’s what I love about her. We live in a society where we say the words “I love you” so much that they have dulled in meaning. What’s the difference between saying, “I love you” to a friend or to a lover? You’ll know it when you know it—I know; the most unhelpful thing ever.

Besides feeling like loving a girl meant that my whole life was a lie—dramatic, I know—I felt like my whole life had been a lie. When you live 23 years fighting against others and yourself for your identity, having it put in a Magic 8 Ball and shaken up doesn’t feel good. There was another haunting thing inside of me. Would loving one person in a platonic way that completely filled my soul, mind, and heart prevent me from getting the thing that I screamed inside I would never have (even if there was a small corner of my mind that wanted it)? Would I have space in me for a romantic love?

Many people don’t find love at all—on any level—so the fact that I have found it with someone who understands me so completely is a blessing. Someone I can talk to, who can say just the right things without force and I can do the same thing back, is a simpatico of legend. Why does it matter if this person isn’t someone I can screw or someone who I will never tie the ring with? Down the road, maybe it will; but for now, feeling loved and loving is all that matters.

After all, that’s what people were put on the planet to do. I’ve always been looking for my path, or my destiny. Maybe I haven’t found my physical purpose, but my spiritual one? I’m doing all right.

Am I Gay?

„Am I gay?“ It sounds like such a simple question, but finding the answer can be so much trickier than you might think. Why? Because it’s a question only you can answer. You can’t ask a teacher or a parent or your best friend or Google or even Seventeen and get a „yes“ or a „no.“ And while it would be so nice to shake a magic 8 ball and get some clarity here, it’s actually crucial for you to come to the answer all on your own.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking you might be gay…

I’m Attracted to the Same Sex—Does That Mean I’m Gay?

Fact: In many cases, same-sex attraction is nothing more than a passing phase.

That’s what Lisette, 16, who was at one time attracted to a girl, found. She says: “Through my biology classes in school, I learned that during the adolescent years, hormone levels can fluctuate greatly. I truly think that if more youths knew more about their bodies, they would understand that same-sex attraction can be temporary and they wouldn’t feel the pressure to be gay.”

All youths face a choice—either to adopt the world’s degraded view of sexuality or to follow the high moral path set forth in God’s Word

But what if your attraction to the same sex seems to be more than a passing phase? Is it cruel of God to tell someone who is attracted to the same sex to avoid homosexuality?

If you answered yes to that last question, you should know that such reasoning is based on the flawed notion that humans must act on their sexual impulses. The Bible dignifies humans by assuring them that they can choose not to act on their improper sexual urges.​—Colossians 3:5.

The Bible’s stand is not unreasonable. It simply directs those with homosexual urges to do the same thing that is required of those with an opposite-sex attraction​—to “flee from fornication.” (1 Corinthians 6:18) The fact is, millions of heterosexuals who wish to conform to the Bible’s standards employ self-control despite any temptations they might face. Those with homosexual inclinations can do the same if they truly want to please God.​—Deuteronomy 30:19.

Secondary navigation

During puberty, you have lots of emotions and sexual feelings. It’s normal for girls to think about girls in a sexual way, and for boys to think about boys in a sexual way.

Some people realise they prefer people of the opposite sex, while others feel they prefer people of the same sex. Some people realise they are gay, lesbian or bisexual at an early age, while others may not know until later in life.

Some young people may also be confused about their sexual identity. They may be asexual, where you’re not interested in sex at all, or transgender, where people believe there is a mismatch between their biological sex and identity as a boy or girl. 

You do not choose your sexuality, it chooses you. Nobody knows what makes people gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans. Whatever your sexuality, you deserve to be with someone you love.

What if I’m gay, lesbian or bisexual?

It can help to talk to other people who are going through the same thing. Find out if there’s a young men’s or women’s group in your area for lesbian, gay or bisexual people.

These groups might be advertised at GP surgeries, sexual health or contraceptive clinics, pharmacies, youth groups, local papers, or on the internet.

Find sexual health services, including contraceptive clinics, near you.

Should I tell anyone I think I’m gay, lesbian or bisexual?

This is up to you. Being gay, lesbian or bisexual is normal, but some people do not understand this. Telling people you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual is known as coming out.

When you first come out, the most sensible option is to tell someone you trust, and who will be supportive and understanding.

If you’re not sure how you feel about your sexuality, there’s no hurry to make your mind up or tell people.

Coming out is an individual decision, and it’s important to do it in your own way and in your own time.

You can find out more at Stonewall: coming out as a young person.

What about sex if I’m gay, lesbian or bisexual?

We all have the same feelings and anxieties about sex. Deciding when you’re ready to have sex is a big step, whatever your sexuality and whoever your potential partner might be.

Everyone is ready at different times, but do not have sex just because your mates or your boyfriend or girlfriend are pressuring you. Remember, it’s always OK to say no.

You can also read Are you ready for sex? to find out the things to ask yourself if you’re thinking about having sex.

If you think the time is right, talk to your partner about needing to use contraception, having safer sex, picking the right time, and how you would both like the experience to be.

How to cope if you’re bullied for being gay

Some people do not understand that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is normal. Nobody has the right to tell someone else how to live their life or pick on them because of who they’re attracted to.

If someone bullies you because you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, it’s their problem, not yours, and they should not get away with it. This is called homophobic bullying.

Bullying can take many forms, including stares, looks, whispers, threats and violence. If you’re being bullied because you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, tell someone you trust. This could be a teacher, friend, your parents, or a helpline.

Schools have a legal duty to ensure homophobic bullying is dealt with. Find out more from the Anti-Bullying Alliance on where to find help if you’ve been bullied for advice.

You’ll find information about talking to teachers and parents, and the contact details of anti-bullying organisations and helplines. Talking to someone who is understanding will always help if you have worries or questions as you’ll feel supported and more confident.

You can find out more about dealing with homophobic bullying on these websites: 

This is a charity for young people and adults affected by homophobia. It has a helpline for young people, parents or teachers who want to report homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying. Call the EACH actionline on 0808 1000 143 on weekdays, 9am to 4.30pm. Calls are free from landlines and most mobiles. 

Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for equal rights for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans people. Its Education for All campaign tackles homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools across the UK. You can find case studies, facts and figures about bullying in schools, and advice for young people and teachers on the charity’s website.

The LGBT+ anti-violence charity can help if you experience homophobia, transphobia or biphobia wherever it occurs. Call their national helpline on 0800 999 5428 or contact them online.

The charity offers a safe and confidential place for you to talk about anything. No problem is too big or too small. Call one of their counsellors free on 0800 1111, chat to them online or send an email.

Page last reviewed: 2 August 2018 Next review due: 2 August 2021

Wait, what’s the definition of bisexual?

Before you can identify something, you probably need to know what it means. Right? Right!

Wendasha Jenkins Hall, PhD, a sex educator and researcher based in Atlanta explains: Traditionally, bisexuality was used to describe attraction to both men and women, but as our understanding of gender has become more expansive, the definition of bisexuality has expanded, too.

Nowadays, “bisexuality is defined as the sexual and/or romantic attraction to people who are of the same gender and people who have a different gender than your own,” she says.

Amanda, 36, Orlando says, “for a long time I didn’t identify as bisexual because I was scared of invalidating my non-binary partner’s identity.” It wasn’t until she took the time to read The Bisexuality Manifesto that she felt comfortable embracing the term.

First published in 1990 in a news periodical dedicated to the bisexual community, Anything That Moves, the manifesto explicitly states: “Do not assume that bisexuality is binary or duogamous in nature: that we have ‚two‘ sides or that we must be involved simultaneously with both genders to be fulfilled human beings. In fact, don’t assume that there are only two genders.” (Read it in full for even more affirming, myth-busting nuggets.)

1. You’re evolving

“Sexuality can change over our lifetime,” says Hall. “So, a person who identified as straight can discover they have a sexual attraction to other genders in their 40s.”

Personally, after identifying as a lesbian for the first 23 years of my life, when I was 24, I discovered that I’m also attracted to cis-men. Does that mean I lied when I first came out? Nope! It just means my sexuality evolved. (Related: What Does It Actually Mean To Be Sexually Fluid?)

5. You want to branch out

That said, if there’s a bi/queer/gay cutie who wants to help you explore your sexuality, take them up on it! Olivia Zayas Ryan a femme queer bisexual writer says: “In grade school, I had one friend who was out as bi and I told her that I thought I might be bi,” says Ryan. Then, they kissed and she realized ‘Yep! I’m bi!’. Christie, 29, San Diego had a similar experience. “I kissed a girl and I realized I liked it.” Cue Katy Perry.

6. You want to try new dating apps

Just be upfront about your current experience level, suggests Noel. “Some people don’t want to put in the emotional and educational labor of helping someone become secure in their queer identity,” she says.

Ryan recommends plopping a line in your bio like: Newly out as bisexual and looking for friends or more. (PS: Lex, Hashtag Open, and Tinder are the best apps for exploring.)

11. There may be clues in your dating history

“I dated men and women on and off for a long time before realizing that there was a label that described that experience,” says Grace, 39, Maine.

Susanna, 22, Virginia had a similar experience: “I had a secret boyfriend and middle school and a secret girlfriend in high school, so once I heard the term I was like ‘OK, that’s me.”

As Finn puts it: “Sometimes we just do our thing, not realizing there’s a label associated with it.” So, if you’ve dated folks of many genders and you like the way “bisexual” feels rolling of your tongue, you’re bi! But again, this won’t apply to everyone, and you can’t always go by your history. What’s your future?

13. You want to spend time in queer spaces

Spending time in queer spaces (think: gay bars, drag shows, queer dance clubs, and burlesque events) helped sex and LGBTQ+ issue journalist, Charyn Pfeuffer, embrace her bisexual identity. “Spending time in spaces where people weren’t judged for their sexuality, even if they were questioning, was affirming,” she says. “Knowing I wasn’t alone and had support from like-minded people was a powerful tool in owning my authentic self.”

Tip: Follow your town’s LGBTQ Meet Up group, and when your local community’s social distancing guidelines allow, pick one or two to attend each month.

14. You’re entertaining a mixed-gender threesome

“I agreed to have a threesome with my boyfriend as some kind of birthday gift to him,” says Faith, 38, New York. “But in the middle of it, I realized I actually wanted to have sex with the girl more than my boyfriend.“ After the third time that happened, “it just kind of dawned on me that I really like girls, too.”

Of course, if you’ve had a mixed-gender threesome and didn’t like it, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not bisexual! There are plenty of reasons a threesome can flop.

17. You’re reflecting on biphobic messages you might have received

“I grew up in a super conservative family where I was taught and that being gay or bisexual is an abomination,” says Hannah, 26, Houston. “It wasn’t until I went away to college and began to unlearn some of the biphobic teachings I’d been taught that I realized I was bisexual.”

Some common biphobic myths include: That bisexual folks are greedy, indecisive, or just going through a phase. UGH. Unpacking and working through internalized biphobia is no walk in the park. “It can create feelings of shame,” says Finn. Unburdening yourself from those toxic learnings may make you feel more comfortable exploring your sexuality. If you grew up in a sex-negative household, consider working with a queer-inclusive therapist, if it’s financially accessible to you.

Am I gay?

If you find yourself asking, ‘am I gay?‘ you are not alone. Most people question their sexual orientation at some point. ‘It’s actually really common to question your sexuality’, explains sex and relationship expert, therapist and author Dr Meg-John Barker. ‘First of all, it’s really important to remember that whatever your sexuality is – and however you decide to label it – is absolutely fine. Sadly we live in a culture which gives us the idea that it’s more “normal” or “better” to be straight than it is to be gay, bisexual, pansexual, queer, etc.

Most people assume we’re born with a fixed sexual orientation, but recently we’ve come to understand that sexuality is fluid and can change over the course of our lives.

Most people assume we’re born with a fixed sexual orientation, but recently we’ve come to understand sexuality is fluid.

‘We might have been attracted to one gender for our whole lives but experience an attraction to somebody of another gender. This might start us questioning how we identify our sexuality going forward,’ Dr Barker says.

So even if you’ve identified as heterosexual or straight for most of your life, experiencing a shift in your desires or attractions is normal.

How do you know if you are gay?

Because sexuality is so complex and constantly evolving, there unfortunately is no one way to be sure whether you are ‘really’ straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual or queer.

‘A lot of LGBTQ+ people say they have always known they were different in some way. But there are also people who say that it took time to find out what their sexual identity was,’ says Relate counsellor Rachel Davies.

‘Our sexuality is fluid, it is rarely black or white. We can be attracted to people irrespective of their gender, it does not mean we need to label ourselves as gay, straight, pansexual – unless we choose to do so,’ explains Marianne Oakes, lead and a specialist in sexuality, gender and diverse relationships.

How real people knew they were gay

For Lewis Oakley, who identifies as bisexual, moving to London aged 19 was the first time he ever saw gay people „in action“. ‘I didn’t think I was anything other than straight because I’d always liked girls growing up. But one thing lead to another and I realised I liked kissing boys on the dance floor. Now I’m older I realise there were boys at school I was attracted to, I just mistook that as thinking they were cool, wanting to hang out or be more like them – actually I just wanted to kiss them. I feel amazing to have finally worked out my sexuality and understand what and who I am attracted to.’

Of course, some people can grow up knowing they aren’t straight. Topher Taylor says he always knew he liked boys and that is just felt natural. ‘I had a huge crush on Will Smith in the ‘Welcome to Miami’ video (in the white vest) and had the artwork from the CD stuck to my wall. I was also once under the staircase with a boy in primary school and he kissed me, and I got butterflies. I’ve slept with men and women over the years but always felt more organically attracted to men as the sex felt “right” and I’d always feel more content afterwards.’

I feel amazing to have finally worked out my sexuality and understand what and who I am attracted to.

Jake Hall says the first time they remember questioning their sexuality was in their early teens. ‘I remember being confused by my thoughts about mum’s David Beckham calendar! It took a few months, but I chatted to my best friend at the time and she was having the same feeling about women. I was lucky to have someone that understood and made me feel supported.

‚I identified as gay for about a decade afterwards, until I moved to London and met one or two women that I was attracted to. That made me question things but ultimately I felt comfortable enough to follow my instincts, and now I just happily identify as queer. I enjoy the fluidity of the term. By reframing my perspective, I feel like I’ve really allowed myself the freedom to just follow my heart without pressuring or doubting myself.’

What to do if you think you are gay

If you are curious and want to know more about your sexuality and attractions, Oakes suggests exploring these feelings by going on dates with a range of people you are attracted to. And remember, you can flirt with, kiss, or have sex with someone of the same gender and not be gay or lesbian. As sexuality exists on a spectrum, you can identify any way that feels right for you.

Dr Barker recommends self-exploration. ‘Give yourself time to reflect on your sexuality and how you might like to label it, if at all,’ they say. ‘Journalling, engaging with ethical porn, reading erotica, and fantasising are all great ways to do self-exploration.’

Give yourself time to reflect your sexuality and how you might like to label it, if at all.

Oakes says If you are in a monogamous relationship and have feelings of guilt which are impacting you, you may be experiencing internalised homophobia. ‘Talking therapies offer a channel through which to explore all of this and help you to find a way forward,’ she says.

Getting support from other LGBTQ+ or questioning people can be really helpful, too, whether that’s through local meet-ups or online groups. ‘Check this stuff out but do remember that nobody should be pressuring you to label yourself in any way, or to come out unless that feels good to you. Go gently and take your time,’ Dr Barker adds.

Coming out as gay, bisexual or queer

If you’ve decided you want to come out, then congratulations! But remember, coming out should always be your choice and whether you come out or not, your sexuality is still valid.

‘Telling someone about your sexual orientation and/or gender identity should always be a personal decision. There is no right or wrong way to come out. If you’re thinking about coming out, you need to find a way that feels right for you,’ says Jeff Ingold, Head of Media at Stonewall.

‘Hiding who you are can be a big struggle but no one should feel pressured to come out and it should only happen when you’re ready. Coming out is also usually not a one-off event and LGBT people often have to come out many times during their lives. Stonewall has a range of resources to help LGBT people who may be thinking about coming out.

Yay or nay, are you gay? Whether you’re just curious or are seriously wondering, you can find out now by taking this highly accurate test. Don’t put off finding out your true sexuality any longer. Knowing can make the difference between being in limbo and living your best life!

Fred Penzel, Ph.D.

OCD, as we know, is largely about experiencing severe and unrelenting doubt. It can cause you to doubt even the most basic things about yourself – even your sexual orientation. A 1998 study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that among a group of 171 college students, 84% reported the occurrence of sexual intrusive thoughts (Byers et al, 1998). In order to have doubts about one’s sexual identity, a sufferer need not ever have had a homo- or heterosexual experience, or any type of sexual experience at all. I have observed this symptom in young children, adolescents, and adults as well. Interestingly, Swedo et al., 1989 found that approximately 4% of children with OCD experience obsessions concerned with forbidden, aggressive, or perverse sexual thoughts.

Although doubts about one’s own sexual identity might seem pretty straightforward as a symptom, there are actually a number of variations. The most obvious form is where a sufferer experiences the thought that they might be of a different sexual orientation than they formerly believed. If the sufferer is heterosexual, then the thought may be that they are homosexual. If, on the other hand, they happen to be homosexual, they may obsess about the possibility that they might really be straight. Going a step beyond this, some sufferers have obsessions that tell them that they may have acted, or will act on their thoughts. A variation on doubt about sexual identity would be where the obsessive thought has fastened onto the idea that the person simply will never be able to figure out what their sexual orientation actually is. Patients will sometimes relate their belief that, “I could deal with whatever my sexuality turns out to be, but my mind just won’t let me settle on anything.” Some people’s doubts are further complicated by having such experiences as hearing other people talking or looking in their direction and thinking that these people must be analyzing their behavior or appearance and talking about them – discussing how they must be gay (or straight).

For those with thoughts of being homosexual, part of the distress must surely be social in origin. Let’s face it: gay people have always been an oppressed minority within our culture, and to suddenly think of being in this position and to be stigmatized in this way can be frightening. People don’t generally obsess about things they find positive or pleasurable. I have sometimes wondered if those who experience the most distress from such thoughts as these do so because they were raised with more strongly homophobic or anti-gay attitudes to begin with, or if it is simply because one’s sexuality can be such a basic doubt. I suppose this remains a question for research to answer. The older psychoanalytic therapies often make people with this problem feel much worse by saying that the thoughts represent true inner desires. This has never proven to be so.

Doubting something so basic about yourself can obviously be quite a torturous business. When I first see people for this problem, they are typically engaged in any number of compulsive activities, which may occupy many hours of each day. These can include:

Compulsive questioning can frequently take place, and usually involves others who may be close to the sufferer. The questions are never-ending and repetitive. Some of the more typical questions sufferers are likely to ask can include those in the following two groupings:

For those who obsess about not knowing what their identity is:

For those who obsess that they are of the opposite sexual orientation:

In terms of the last question above, one of the most difficult situations for this group of sufferers is when they experience a sexual reaction to something they feel would be inappropriate. A typical example would be a heterosexual man who experiences an erection while looking at gay erotica. It is important to note that it is extremely common for people to resort to all sorts of fantasy material concerning unusual or forbidden sexual behaviors that they would never actually engage in, but that they do find stimulating. Under the right circumstances, many things can cause sexual arousal in a person. The fact of the matter is that people react sexually to sexual things. I am not just talking about people with OCD here, but about people in general. I cannot count the number of times that patients have related to me that they have experienced sexual feelings and feelings of stimulation when encountering things they felt were taboo or forbidden. This, of course, then leads them to think that their thoughts must reflect a true inner desire, and are a sign that they really are of a different sexual orientation. This reaction is strengthened by the incorrect belief that homosexual cues never stimulate heterosexuals. One further complicating factor in all this is that some obsessive thinkers mistake feelings of anxiety for feelings of sexual arousal. The two are actually physiologically similar in some ways.

Things become even more complicated by a number of cognitive (thinking) errors seen in OCD. It is these errors, which lead OC sufferers to react anxiously to their thoughts, and then to have to perform compulsions to relieve that anxiety. Cognitive OCD theorists believe that obsessions have their origin in the normal unwanted intrusive thoughts seen in the general population. What separate these everyday intrusions from obsessions seen in OCD are the meanings or appraisals that the OCD sufferers attach to the thoughts. As I like to explain to my patients, their problem is not the thoughts themselves, but instead it is what they make of the thoughts, as well as their attempts to relieve their anxiety via compulsions and avoidance.

Some typical cognitive errors made by OC sufferers include:

The effect of the questioning behavior on friends and family can be rather negative, drawing a lot of angry responses or ridicule after the thousandth time. One young man I know questioned his girlfriend so often that she eventually broke up with him and this added to his worries since he now wondered if she did so because he wasn’t a “real man”.

The compulsive activities sufferers perform in response to their ideas, of course, do nothing to settle the issue. Often, the more checking and questioning that is done, the more doubtful the sufferer becomes. Even if they feel better for a few minutes as a result of a compulsion, the doubt quickly returns. I like to tell my patients that it is as if that information-gathering portion of their brain is coated with Teflon©. The answers just don’t stick.

In addition to performing compulsions, one other way in which sufferers cope with the fears caused by the obsessions is through avoidance, and by this I mean directly avoiding everyday situations that get the thoughts going. This can involve:

Needless to say, it is crucial for all OCD sufferers to understand that there is no avoiding what they fear. Facing what you fear is a way of getting closer to the truth. The purpose of compulsions is, of course, to undo, cancel out, or neutralize the anxiety caused by obsessions. They may actually work in the short run, but their benefits are only temporary. OC sufferers cannot process the information they provide, and it just doesn’t stick. It is sort of like having only half of the Velcro. Also, it is important to understand that compulsions are paradoxical – that is, they bring about the opposite of what they are intended to accomplish. That is, to help the sufferer to be free of anxiety and obsessive thoughts.

I like to tell my patients that: “Compulsions start out as a solution to the problem of having obsessions, but soon become the problem itself.”

What compulsions do accomplish is to cause the sufferer to become behaviorally addicted to performing them. Even the little bit of relief they get is enough to get this dependency going. Compulsions only lead to more compulsions, and avoidance only leads to more avoidance. This is really only natural for people to do. It is instinctive to try to escape or avoid that which makes you anxious. Unfortunately, this is of no help in OCD.

Another problem that arises from performing compulsions is that those who keep checking their own reactions to members of the opposite or same sex will inevitably create a paradox for themselves. They become so nervous about what they may see in themselves that they don’t feel very excited, and then think that this must mean they have the wrong preference. When they are around members of their own sex, they also become anxious, which leads to further stress and, of course, more doubts about themselves. The flip side of this is when they look at things having to do with sex of an opposite orientation and then feel aroused in some way, which they then conclude to mean that they liked it, which means that they are gay (or straight). This is the mistake I referred to earlier when I stated that people react sexually to sexual things.

People like to ask if there are any new developments in OCD treatments. Aside from a few new medications since the last article, treatment remains essentially the same. The formula of cognitive/behavioral therapy plus medication (in many cases) is still the way to go. The particular form of behavioral therapy shown to be the most effective is known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).

ERP encourages participants to expose themselves to their obsessions (or to situations that will bring on the obsessions), while they prevent themselves from using compulsions to get rid of the resulting anxiety. The fearful thoughts or situations are approached in gradually increased amounts over a period of from several weeks to several months. This results in an effect upon the individual that we call “habituation.” That is, when you remain in the presence of what you fear over long periods of time, you will soon see that no harm of any kind results. As you do so in slowly increasing amounts, you develop a tolerance to the presence of the fear, and its effect is greatly lessened. By continually avoiding feared situations and never really encountering them, you keep yourself sensitized. By facing them, you learn that the avoidance itself is the “real” threat that keeps you trapped. It puts you in the role of a scientist conducting experiments that test your own fearful predictions, to see what really happens when you don’t avoid what you fear. The result is that as you slowly build up your tolerance for whatever is fear provoking; it begins to take larger and larger doses of frightening thoughts or situations to bring on the same amount of anxiety. When you have finally managed to tolerate the most difficult parts of your OCD, they can no longer cause you to react with fear. Basically, you can tell yourself, “Okay, so I can think about this, but I don’t have to do anything about it.” By agreeing to face some short-term anxiety, you can thus achieve long-term relief. It is important to note that the goal of E&RP is not the elimination of obsessive thoughts, but to learn to tolerate and accept all thoughts with little or no distress. This reduced distress may, in turn, as a byproduct, reduce the frequency of the obsessions. Complete elimination of intrusive thoughts may not be a realistic goal, given the commonality of intrusive thoughts in humans in general.

Using this technique, you work with a therapist to expose yourself to gradually increasing levels of anxiety-provoking situations and thoughts. You learn to tolerate the fearful situations without resorting to questioning, checking, or avoiding. By allowing the anxiety to subside on its own, you slowly build up your tolerance to it, and it begins to take more and more to make you anxious. Eventually, as you work your way up the list to facing your worst fears, there will be little about the subject that can set you off. You may still get the thoughts here and there, but you will no longer feel that you must react to them, and you will be able to let them pass.

There are many techniques for confronting sexual and other obsessions that we have developed over the years. Some of these techniques include:

These are some typical exposure therapy homework assignments I have assigned to people over the years:

Some typical response prevention exercises might include:

Some typical exposure homework for those with doubts about their own sexual identity might include:

Some corresponding response prevention exercises to go along with the above would be:

Many of the above therapy tasks can sound scary and intimidating. Obviously, you don’t do these things all at once. Behavioral change is gradual change. Recovering from OCD is certainly not an easy task. We rarely use the word ‘easy’ at our clinic. It takes persistence and determination, but it can be done. People do it all the time, especially with proper help and advice. My own advice to those of you reading this would be to get yourself out of the compulsion trap, and get yourself into treatment with qualified people.

The program is very sound and practical. The staff couldn’t be any more supportive and helpful. They, one and all, treat you in a very warm and respectful way. I would recommend the program to anyone who has tried outpatient therapy and has not progressed in a satisfactory way.

McLean OCD Institute // Houston 708 E. 19th Street Houston, TX 77008 | (877) 488-2467 | [email protected]

About This Article

If you’re not sure how to know if you are gay, think about any past romantic experiences you have had. If you have had only had crushes on people of a different gender, you are probably straight. If you have had romantic experiences or fantasies involving people who are the same gender as you, then there is a good chance you are gay or bisexual, but it’s okay if you’re a little confused. Also, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to label yourself at all. You like who you like, and you can leave it at that. It may help to think of loving people, rather than their gender. To learn more about how to be comfortable with your sexuality, keep reading!Did this summary help you?YesNo

It all started with a sex dream — does this mean what I think it means?

Many of us grow up to assume that we’re straight only to find out, later, that we’re not.

Sometimes, we realize this because we have sex dreams, sexual thoughts, or feelings of intense attraction toward people of the same gender as us.

However, none of those things — sex dreams, sexual thoughts, or even feelings of intense attraction — necessarily “prove” your orientation.

Having a sex dream about someone of the same gender as you doesn’t necessarily make you gay. Having a sex dream about someone of the opposite gender doesn’t necessarily make you straight.

There are a few different forms of attraction. When it comes to orientation, we usually refer to romantic attraction (who you have strong romantic feelings for and desire a romantic relationship with) and sexual attraction (who you want to engage in sexual activity with).

Sometimes we’re romantically and sexually attracted to the same groups of people. Sometimes we’re not.

For example, it’s possible to be romantically attracted to men but sexually attracted to men, women, and nonbinary people. This sort of situation is called “mixed orientation” or “cross orientation” — and it’s totally OK.

Bear this in mind as you consider your sexual and romantic feelings.

Is there a quiz I can take?

If only Buzzfeed had all the answers! Unfortunately, there isn’t a test to help you figure out your sexual orientation.

And even if there were, who’s to say who qualifies as gay or straight?

Every single straight person is unique. Every single gay person is unique. Every person, of every orientation, is unique.

You don’t have to fulfill certain “criteria” to qualify as gay, straight, bisexual, or anything else.

This is an aspect of your identity, not a job application — and you can identify with whatever term fits you!

Then how am I supposed to know?

There’s no “right” way to come to terms with your orientation. However, there are a few things you can do to explore your feelings and help figure things out.

Above all else, let yourself feel your feelings. It’s hard to understand your feelings if you ignore them.

Even now, there’s a lot of shame and stigma around orientation. People who aren’t straight are often made to feel like they should repress their feelings.

Remember, your orientation is valid, and your feelings are valid.

Learn about the different terms for orientations. Find out what they mean, and consider whether any of them resonate with you.

Consider doing further research by reading forums, joining LGBTQIA+ support groups, and learning about these communities online. This could help you understand the terms better.

If you start identifying with a certain orientation and later feel differently about it, that’s OK. It’s all right to feel differently and for your identity to shift.

How can I ever be sure that my orientation is X?

That’s a good question. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer.

Yes, sometimes people do get their orientation “wrong.” Plenty of people thought they were one thing for the first half of their life, only to find that wasn’t true.

It’s also possible to think you’re gay when you’re actually bi, or think you’re bi when you’re actually gay, for example.

It’s totally OK to say, “Hey, I was wrong about this, and now I actually feel more comfortable identifying as X.”

It’s important to remember that your orientation may change over time. Sexuality is fluid. Orientation is fluid.

Many people identify as one orientation for their entire life, while others find it changes over time. And that’s OK!

Your orientation may change, but that doesn’t make it any less valid over time, nor does it mean you’re wrong or confused.

Is there anything that ‘causes’ orientation?

Why are some people gay? Why are some people straight? We don’t know.

Some people feel they were born this way, that their orientation was always just a part of them.

Others feel their sexuality and orientation changes over time. Remember what we said about orientation being fluid?

Whether orientation is caused by nature, nurture, or a mix of the two isn’t really important. What is important is that we accept others as they are, and ourselves as we are.

What does this mean for my sexual and reproductive health?

Most sex education in schools focuses solely on heterosexual and cisgender (that is, not transgender, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary) people.

It’s important to know you can get sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and, in some cases, become pregnant regardless of what your sexual orientation is.

STIs can transfer between people no matter what their genitals look like.

They can transfer to and from an anus, penis, vagina, and mouth. STIs can even spread through unwashed sex toys and hands.

Pregnancy isn’t reserved for straight people, either. It can happen whenever two fertile people have penis-in-vagina sex.

So, if it’s possible for you to become pregnant — or impregnate someone — look into contraception options.

Still have questions? Check out our guide to safer sex.

You may also consider scheduling an appointment with an LGBTIQA+-friendly doctor to talk about your sexual health.

What implications can this have?

Telling people can be great, but keeping it private can be great, too. It all depends on your personal situation.

On the one hand, telling people might help you feel better. Many queer people feel relief and a sense of freedom once they come out. Being “out” can also help you find an LGBTQIA+ community that can support you.

On the other hand, coming out isn’t always safe. Homophobia — and other forms of bigotry — are alive and well. Queer people are still discriminated against at work, in their communities, and even in their families.

So, while coming out can feel freeing, it’s also OK to take things slow and move at your own pace.

How can I go about telling someone?

Sometimes, it’s best to start by telling someone who you’re sure will be accepting, such as an open-minded family member or friend. If you’d like, you could ask them to be there with you when you tell others.

If you’re not comfortable talking about it in person, you can tell them via text, phone, email, or handwritten message. Whatever you prefer.

If you want to talk to them in person but are struggling to broach the topic, perhaps start by watching an LGBTQIA+ movie or bringing up something about an openly queer celebrity. This could help you segue into the conversation.

You may find it helpful to start with something like:

You could end the conversation by asking for their support and directing them to a resource guide, perhaps online, if they need it.

There are many resources out there for people who want to support their queer friends and family members.

Also let them know whether you mind them sharing this news with others or not.

What should I do if it doesn’t go well?

Sometimes the people you tell don’t react the way you want them to.

They may ignore what you said or laugh it off as a joke. Some people might try to convince you that you’re straight, or say you’re just confused.

If this happens, there are a few things you can do:

It’s not easy to deal with loved ones who don’t accept your orientation, but it’s important to remember that there are many people out there who love and accept you.

If you’re in an unsafe situation — for example, if you were evicted from your home or if the people you live with threaten you — try to find an LGBTQIA+ shelter in your area, or arrange to stay with a supportive friend for a while.

If you’re a young person in need of help, contact The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. They provide help and support for people who are in crisis or feeling suicidal, or for people who simply need someone to talk to and vent to.

Where can I find support?

Consider joining in-person groups so you can meet people face-to-face. Join an LGBTQIA+ group at your school or college, and look for meetups for LGBTQIA+ people in your area.

What is sexuality?

Your sexuality or ’sexual orientation‘ is a whole package of things that make up how you express yourself sexually. It includes:

You may find that all aspects of your sexuality match up. For example you might be a man who is attracted to men, has sex with men and identifies as gay. Or you may find your sexuality is more complicated. For example you might be a woman who is attracted to men and identifies as straight, but also sometimes has sex with women. Your sexuality is personal to you and there is no right or wrong way to feel.

Your gender identity is different to your sexuality. For example whether you feel you ‘fit’ into the category of ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ growing up, or whether you feel your gender is different to the sex you were assigned at birth.

What do all the different labels mean and what if none of them fit me?

There are lots of words that people use to describe their sexual orientation. Here are some of the more common ones. Different ones might be used in your language or in your culture.

*LGBTQ+ – Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and others

Some people identify strongly with a label like ‘gay’, while others don’t feel that any of these words fit their sexuality or don’t want to be labelled at all.

Getting support

Meeting and talking to other people who have had similar experiences can really help when you’re coming to terms with your sexuality. You can look for LGBTQ+ support groups in your area, call a helpline or join an online support group.

The websites below also have links to support organisations and helpful information.

So You Like This Girl…

With the world changing and equality arising, more and more people are being honest and proudly announcing to the public about who they truly are and what their sexual orientations and preferences are. It is now becoming a social norm and because of that, I feel everyone should be more open-minded when they consider dating. Something I tell everyone is you as an individual should be more aware of this change in our social environment and not automatically assume that the person we are interested in is straight or has a straight sexual preference. I know sometimes you believe you just know and that you can tell they’re totally straight, but sometimes it’s a lot harder to tell an individual’s orientation than you think. So keep in mind readers, guys and girls, bi, lesbian and gay, that with that being said you can’t go off the bat assuming everyone is gay either, especially if you are gay or of that orientation yourself. With equality, there is no forcing ideas, beliefs or even forcing yourselves on others if they do not agree or share the same beliefs or opinions.

So im not sure if youre aware but honestly I’m not even from here??~Jay tags:)//#gays #lesbian #asexual #pansexual #polysexual #bisexual #genderqueer #queer #transgender #lgbt #lgbtq #nonbinary #genderfluid #gaylove #gaypride #gaylife #gayteen #lgbtaccount #loveislove #demisexual #lgbtqia #lgbtsaga #lgbtsupport #lgbtplus #lgbtpride #lgbtyouth #equalrights #lovewins #saga #aromantic hotlines:)// Depression Hotline 1-630-482-9696 LifeLine 1-800-273-8255 Suicide Hotline 1-800-784-8433 Grief Support 1-650-321-5272 AIDS Hotline (800) FOR-AIDS American Social Health Association: Sexually Transmitted Disease Hotline (800) 227-8922 CDC AIDS Information (800) 232-4636 AIDS Info: Treatment, Prevention and Research (800) HIV-0440 National AIDS Hotline (800) 342-AIDS Alcohol Hotline (800) 331-2900 Al-Anon for Families of Alcoholics (800) 344-2666 Alcohol and Drug Helpline (800) 821-4357 Alcohol Treatment Referral Hotline (800) 252-6465 Alcohol & Drug Abuse Hotline (800) 729-6686 Families Anonymous (800) 736-9805 National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hopeline (800) 622-2255 Child Protection Hotline (Los Angeles County DCFS) Within CA (800) 540-4000 Outside CA (213) 283-1960 Judge Baker Children’s Center – Child Abuse Hotline (800) 792-5200 Child Help USA National Child Abuse Hotline (800) 422-4453 Covenant House (800) 999-9999 Girls & Boys Town National Hotline (800) 448-3000 National Hopeline Network (800) SUICIDE National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-TALK (8255) National Youth Crisis Hotline (800) 442-HOPE (4673) Samaritans (UK Crisis Help, Anywhere in the UK or Ireland) 116 123 National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-7233 National US Child Abuse Hotline (800) 422-4453

A post shared by lgbtqia+ account (@letusbethenorm) on Jan 31, 2018 at 4:45pm PST

Gay Labels and Stereotypes

When it comes to sexual orientation, not everyone labels themselves outwardly. Some people like to keep such sensitive information to themselves. Sometimes it is best to secretly enjoy your sexual preferences instead of shouting it out to the world. You would be quite surprised by who truly is gay and doesn’t show their sexual preference through their external appearance or without it being said immediately. People have created this stigma or stereotype about bi people, gays, and lesbians. Most assume that these labels are correct and who’s to blame them because indeed some are but that’s not always the case. People aren’t interested in the idea of following a trend of becoming the stigma others believe them to be. Originality is always key, but anyone can be anything so if fitting in that stereotype of a lesbian girl or gay guy, please enjoy yourself. Some people who are interested in lesbians or know about lesbians always believe that they are dressed a specific way or plain-out dress in men’s clothing, attire, or style. Some believe they have tattoos and short hair to appear more masculine. There are even crazy ideas or assumptions that lesbians secretly desire to be men. That cannot be further from the truth. Lesbians, like all gay people, come in all different shapes, sizes, and personalities. It’s always hard to tell. Though there are some lesbian women who do follow those stereotypes, there are also lesbians who dress and act like regular girls and women. Some people rely on other things to determine a person’s sexuality. There are some people who consider themselves to have a „gaydar“ and they swear that it is always correct. It’s sort of just a sense or feeling someone gets from you or a person that determines whether a girl or guy is gay. Whether it is true that some people have secretly figured out a way to scan someone and tell what they prefer, man or woman, or not, you should ask your friend or person of interest what their sexual preference is rather than assume.

♥️#girlslove#lovewins#lesbians#lgbt#gaylove#girls#couple#loveislove#girlfriend#queer#girlslikegirls#pride#gaypride#rainbowlove#lesbiankiss#samelove#free#lgbt#lgbtpride#lgbtsupport#equality#beauty#love#lgbtitalia??

A post shared by (L)GBT ITALY () on Jan 31, 2018 at 4:41pm PST

10 Ways To Tell If A Girl You Are Interested In Is Gay

There are plenty of ways to tell someone’s sexual orientation, but sometimes we get those shy moments and go through self-torture by raking out minds trying to figure out our crush’s sexual interests from afar. So if you’re not ready to be too bold too quickly and you’re down to do a little investigating and ponder about this, I’ll tell you that you’ve come into some luck because I have something to share with you. These are some helpful tips you can use to tell if she or someone, in general, is gay and what to take into consideration.

What If The Girl I Am Interested In Is Gay?

For those who are straight:- If the girl you are interested in, is in fact, gay or lesbian, don’t worry too much. Appreciate the connection and attraction you had and move on. Like I said previously, you should never try to change someone’s beliefs or opinions just because they don’t match yours or because it would be beneficial to you if they did. People are born the way they are for a reason and it is not your job or your right to change who a person is. Especially if it is for your own personal gain. Don’t get me wrong change is positive. Everyone needs change, but it is morally wrong to make someone change their sexual preference because it is not something you agree with. Everyone is equal. To each their own. For those who are lesbian or gay:- Though if you are lesbian or gay and the girl you’ve been interested in for the longest finally reveals or you figure out that she is gay, kudos to you! I would slowly try to ease into a friendly interaction and work your magic on building a relationship with her. Try asking her out on a couple of dates and see where it goes from there.

A post shared by ˗ˏˋ???? ❣ (@frogtoast) on Jan 31, 2018 at 4:07pm PST

Do I Tell Her I’m Interested Regardless If She Is Gay

Telling someone your feelings or emotions, in general, is a very intimate and significant moment. So really think and take into consideration of the circumstances at play. For those who are Straight: First of all, if she is gay, you already know she doesn’t play on the same team as you. No, you can’t secretly plot on making her switch teams! Though some people do try and its very rare they have luck in their favor. I highly recommend not to. I say if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. Otherwise, leave it be. Second of all, I’m not sure how well others handle rejection, but me personally I hate rejection and I’m always a huge baby when I get rejected. So if you don’t handle rejection too well then its probably best not to tell her, because the rejection possibility of a straight male asking a lesbian girl out is super high. For those who are Lesbian/Gay: If you find out she is bisexual, lesbian or gay and you would like to express your fondness further or if this is simply just a sexual attraction, try a friendly interaction first. It’s always best to build a friendly foundation to ease into a romantic relation or sexual relation. Unless you’re their type and the girl or woman of your interest is the type to just have sex and go your separate ways without all the extra time in building a relationship, by all means, do what you have to do to consent to that. It all really depends on how confident you are in expressing your interest in that person.

HAVE PRIDE IN WHO YOU ARE, YOU’RE THE ONLY PERSON THAT CAN BE YOU! ~Alex✌️ . . . . . . . Stay safe National suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255 National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE Teen Hope Line 1-800-394-HOPE Eating Disorders Center 1-888-236-1188 Gay and Lesbian National Hotline (lgbtqa+) 1-888-843-4564 S.A.F.E. (Self Abuse Finally Ends) 1-800-DONT-CUT National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE Child Abuse National Hotline 1-800-252-2873 . . . . . {Tags} #lgbt #hope #loveislove #ace #gay #nonbinary #demiboy #demigirl #lesbian #pan #bi #rights #human #lgbtqa+ #gaymarriage #lovenothate #rights #pride #riseup #trans

A post shared by {Owner} Alex He/him ✌️ (@__stuck_in_the_closet__) on Jan 31, 2018 at 4:26pm PST

Gay Or Not

Gay or not, there are plenty of fish in the sea! Whether this girl works out for you because she isn’t gay or whether it doesn’t work out because she is, just maintain a positive mindset. We win some and we lose some, ya know! Just keep these tips in mind because it can be helpful in any situation. It doesn’t only regard romantic or sexual interests. This can pertain to friends as well. It can help us adjust or treat people of that sexual orientation equally without judging or assuming anything. Not everyone sticks to labels, stigmas, and stereotypes. Remember that!

100% sure that I actually failed french… ~Asher ? • He/him LGB(T) (Not sure about sexuality) Personal: @asher.farrell • {TAGS} #lgbt #lgbtq #love #gay #homo #loveislove #lovewins #homesexual #homosexuality #sexuality #trans #transgender #bi #bisexual #pan #pansexual #queer #lgbtqia #agender #gender #genderqueer #genderfluid #mentalhealth #ftm #mtf #lgbtpride #depressed #depression #suicidal

A post shared by ?️‍?| A House Of Love (@a.safe_place) on Jan 31, 2018 at 4:24pm PST

‘You are not alone.’

If this is what you’re going through, take a breath and remember that there are plenty of people and resources to help and support you. Even if facing discrimination is not a concern for you, the anxiety and isolation you may feel privately can be all too real.

“You are not alone,” said iO Tillett Wright, a speaker whose TedxWomen talk, “Fifty Shades of Gay,” has more than 2.5 million views. “It’s comical how not alone you are.”

While it is not possible to get an exact figure on the population of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, a 2015 report by the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that “7 percent of millennials identify either as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.” A January 2017 Gallup survey revealed that an estimated 4.1 percent of Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, up from 3.5 percent in 2012.

According to a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, even those numbers may be underestimated — as are the challenges that people in this community face.

In many parts of the country, and the world, there are institutional resources available for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people that never before existed, said Larry Gross, a communications professor at the University of Southern California who helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

“And rather importantly,” he added, “psychological, psychiatric, medical professionals are now much more aware and enlightened than they were in the past not to pathologize variation, but to see it as normal, and to help people to adjust.”

At square one, though, take an inventory of your feelings.

You don’t need all the answers right away.

“The leap from ‘something feels not right’ to ‘I am transgender’ is a huge one,” said Mr. Tillett Wright, whose Self Evident Truths project is documenting 10,000 people who identify as anything other than 100 percent straight. “I think that the pervasive idea is that there’s this switch that you flip that’s like, ‘I’m not straight anymore, I’m gay,’ or ‘Something’s up, and I’m trans.’ ”

“The big question is: ‘Am I happy?’,” he said. “Do I feel good? Do I feel at ease?”

Richard H. Reams, the associate director of counseling services at Trinity University, in San Antonio, Tex., who created the guide “Am I Gay?” recommends that those questioning their orientation should also assess whether their same-sex attractions are physical or emotional.

Physical attraction toward someone of the same sex can be easier to identify, Dr. Reams said, indicated by thoughts as simple as, “I’d like to touch that person.”

Emotional attraction can be trickier: “What are my feelings toward the different people in my life? Is it just friendship feelings, or is it romantic feelings?” Dr. Reams suggests asking yourself. And don’t rush answering.

If negative thoughts like “something is wrong with me” creep up, Deborah Coolhart, a therapist at Syracuse University and co-author of “The Gender Quest Workbook,” says to remember that these thoughts are learned, not innate. She works with patients to help them identify the origin of those critical messages to hopefully “externalize them,” she said.

Dispel the myths.

Among the most damaging myths are that being a sexual minority or transgender is a disease, a sin or not normal, says Dr. Coolhart, who specializes in transgender issues. All of these thoughts need to be challenged, she said.

By connecting with affirmative people, like counselors and other helping professionals, or a community, those messages can be replaced with: “ ‘I am normal. There’s a lot of people that have this experience. There’s nothing wrong with me. This is actually something that makes me special and who I am,’ ” she said.

Dr. Reams addresses several myths about sexual orientation on his website but says the most common one is that bisexuals are equally attracted to men and woman. “It infuriates me,” he said. “Bisexuality is a spectrum.”

The traditional definition of sexual orientation assumes two primary things, he says: that people have a gender identity of male or female, and that they’re attracted to men, women or both. “Both of those assumptions can be incorrect,” he said. In fact, genderqueer or gender-fluid individuals may have an unfixed gender identity.

If Mr. Tillett Wright, who is transgender, could give advice to his younger self, it would be to waste less time trying to be “straight and femme.”

“You can never bend yourself into being anything other than what you are. No matter how much social pressure is put on you,” he said.