What is being gay or lesbian?

If you are gay you are romantically and sexually attracted to people of the same sex. The term gay usually refers to boys and men. Girls who are attracted to girls or women are known as lesbians.

How do I know if I’m gay or lesbian?

  • Some people know from a young age that they are gay or lesbian.
  • Some people don’t know until they get older and start thinking about relationships.
  • Some boys realise they prefer boys although they have previously been attracted to girls. Some girls realise they prefer girls although they have previously been attracted to boys.

Is it normal?

Growing up being gay or lesbian is not always easy and you might feel worried about your sexual orientation. Being attracted to someone of the same sex is completely normal. Remember, it is your sexuality and it is up to you how you define it.

What if people treat me differently?

Sometimes people discriminate against gay or lesbian people. This means they may be unkind or have ideas that are wrong, for example some people think gay men are feminine, all lesbians are masculine or that it is not normal to be gay or lesbian. This is called homophobia, and it is important to know that people who think this are wrong. Get help with homophobia.

Can I get married and have children if I’m gay or lesbian?

People often think that being gay or lesbian means you can’t have a family or get married. In fact, this is not true and plenty of gay men and women have children naturally, foster or adopt. Also, since 2005 gay and lesbian couples have been able to enter into civil partnership, giving them most of the same rights and responsibilities that married straight couples have.

Who can I talk to?

Some people find that joining a group for gay, lesbian and bisexual young people really helps. This will give you the chance to meet other gay young people who will probably understand any worries or problems you might be having. There will also be qualified youth workers you can talk to who can help you deal with a range of issues like coming out, coping with bullies and safer sex.

What is coming out?

Coming out is when someone who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual tells the people around them about their sexuality. It can be scary, but it also means you can be honest about how you feel and not keep part of your life hidden.

I think I’m gay, what happens next?

One of the first steps towards coming out is admitting to yourself that you are gay, lesbian or bisexual. This can be hard, maybe you have been brought up to think being gay, lesbian or bisexual is wrong, or you might be worried about being teased or bullied.

Who to tell?

The next step in coming out is to tell someone you trust and who you think will be supportive and understanding. It will help if they can keep a secret, as you may not want to tell other people about your sexuality before you are comfortable and confident with it yourself. You could talk to a close friend, relative or a trusted adult such as a teacher or youth worker. You can also talk to a Talksafe Counsellor or Peer Mentor.

Will it change things?

Hopefully coming out will change things for the better as an important part of your life won’t be a secret any more. Many people feel relieved that they can be open and honest about their sexuality.

What if I am confused about my sexuality?

If you are not sure about your sexuality there is no rush to make your mind up or tell people. Coming out is a very individual thing and it is important to do it in your own way and in your own time.

If you have a question or you are unsure about anything then ask a Talksafe Counsellor or Peer Mentor.

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YGM website: Coming Out
Lesbian Life – Coming Out Advice
NHS Choices: Am I gay, lesbian or bisexual?
NHS Choices: Coming out for transgender people
Queer Youth Network
YGM website

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Last review: 29/09/14 – Next review: 29/09/17