HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM GAY/LESBIAN OR QUEER?
Your sexuality or sexual preference is not a choice, it is who you are physically and emotionally attracted to.
Many ask if gays or lesbians choose to be queer or attracted to the same sex. The simple answer is that people do not choose their sexuality they simply learn physically and emotionally who they find sexually attractive.
Ask yourself .... did you wake up one day and say "Oh, I want to be straight" or "Oh, I way to be a lesbian" or "Oh, I want to be gay" or ....... NO! It does not work like that, we become aware of who we are both physically and emotionally attracted to and respond to that awareness, we don't just pick a sexuality.
And yes, our sexuality can change or move over time. While for some they are very certain of their sexuality at an early age for others it can change over time. They can feel same sex attracted or attracted to the opposite sex or others who feel attracted to the opposite sex and then over time to the same sex and others who feel always attracted to both sexes. Remember, there is no rule, sexuality is a personal journey for each of us.
COMING OUT - WHAT IS THAT?
'Coming Out' is often referred to as the journey or experience of young people and adults who reveal or tell others that they are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender.
While 'straight' or heterosexual people (opposite sex attracted) do not need to tell others of their sexuality, as it is presumed that they are 'straight' or 'hetro', for gays and lesbians, or same sex attracted people, they experience a process of 'coming out' or telling others that their sexuality is not 'straight or hetero', that they are queer or gay or same sex attracted.
WHEN SHOULD YOU 'Come Out' ???
Simply answer is when and only when you think and feel it is ok to come out! This is your journey but you should always make sure it is going to be a good and safe journey for you and not a trauma. So choose a time that is good for you when you decided that you want others to know that you are attracted to the same sex.
Many choose to 'come out' firstly to someone they really trust, a friend or family member, a bit like testing out how people are going to respond. Don't assume that everyone's response is going to be the same, negative or positive. Yes, you may have given lots of hints to others about your sexuality but don't assume that they have always picked up on the hints. Some people may respond with "oh, yeah I already figured that out' while others may be shocked.
What should you consider in coming out:
Do you have to 'Come Out' now: Wait until it is the right time, don't do it when you are upset or angry or frustrated. Ask yourself, "why now"? Is this the best time for you and for those you love?
What will happen if you 'Come Out' now: If the result will only be negative, or mostly negative then perhaps now is not the right time. Know you will be safe if you come out.
Have a Plan: If you are going to 'Come Out' then have an ACTION PLAN around things like: what if I am kicked out of home; what will happen with my school, studies or job; do I have support and people I can talk to or get help from?
Example of an Aussie lad coming out:
HOW WILL PEOPLE REACT TO ME COMING OUT?
Some times people/friends or family say they already knew or suspected, other times it's a shock:
give them time to consider what you have said
don't expect them to just go 'ok' as if you are asking for a coffee or drink
mum and dad will have had expectations about you growing up and having a straight partner and kids (very heterosexual concepts which are very understandable)
if you have been considering coming out for a year or two then give your parents and brothers and sisters double that time, YES DOUBLE THAT TIME, to come to accept your sexuality. It's a journey of understanding for everyone, not just you!
Even when your family and friends are very accepting and supportive don't expect them to understand everything or accept everything simply because you have told them. Give them time to come to accept your new sexual identity because for them it is 'new'.
Encourage your parents to talk to PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) or check out the PFLAG page on this website. Parents often worry about things like getting AIDS or HIV, not having a 'successful' future, not having stable relationships. These concerns are usually based not on reality but on how they perceive or believe a gay or lesbian lifestyle is like. These are natural concerns and you need to reassure your parents you are ok and that if they have concerns they should talk to other parents of young gays and lesbians like the parents at PFLAG.
Remember that often the reaction of hetrosexual or 'straight' people can be based upon their lack of contact with gay or lesbians in their day to day life or the sterotype images they see or read about in the media. Given them time to get to understand what being queer or gay or lesbian actually means.
Getting your parents, brothers, sisters and other straight family members and friends to read information, such as on this site and the links we have provided on this site, may help them to understand a little more about your sexuality.
Remind your friends and parents that you are still the same person as before you told them that you are gay or lesbian. The only thing that has changed is that you have told them about a part of you that you have kept secret from them until now. Nothing else has changed, you are still the same person.
Examples of coming out - everyone's story is different
THE BATTLE OVER GAY TEENS
TIME MAGAZINE ARTICLE
YES I AM
'YES I AM' was produced by the AIDS ACTION COUNCIL, ACT in 2000 - these stories attest to the often brave, sometimes comic, sometimes harsh experiences of young people coming out
A great resource for young people who are starting to explore their sexuality or gender.