How do I know if I am gay or lesbian?

Sexual identity and orientation is something which can change over time
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Many people are brought up to believe that everyone is sexually attracted to the people with a different gender to their own. However, this isn’t the case. Loads of people are attracted to the same gender or more than one gender, and this is absolutely fine.

Gay is the word used to describe someone who is only attracted to the same gender. It can be used to describe someone of any gender, but sometimes gay women might prefer to be referred to as lesbians. People who are attracted to other of more than one gender often identify as bisexual or pansexual.

How do I know if I’m gay, lesbian or bi?

Some people know what their sexuality is from a very young age, but some people aren’t so sure. It can be hard to know if you’re gay, lesbian, straight,  bisexual or something else, and there’s no definite way to know.

If you’re a man and you’re only attracted to other guys, then you might be gay. If you fancy other guys, feel excited when you think about them, masturbate to thoughts of them, and want to date and have relationships with them, this could be an indicator that you’re gay.

If you’re a woman and you’re only attracted to other girls, then you might be lesbian. If you fancy other girls, feel excited when you think about them, masturbate to thoughts of them, and want to date and have relationships with them, this could be an indicator that you’re lesbian.

If you’re attracted to multiple genders or non-binary people, you might be bisexual or pansexual.

It’s ok not to know what your sexual identity is. Many people find that their sexuality isn’t fixed and can change at different points in their life. The most important thing is to be comfortable and happy with yourself, and respectful of others, no matter what way you identify.

Is it ok to be gay, lesbian or bi?

It’s absolutely ok and normal to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or any sexual identity. In fact, being LGBTI+ is something to be proud of. Being gay or lesbian does not mean you have to behave or live your life any differently. Gay, lesbian and bi people come in all shapes and sizes and live all sorts of different lives.

I think I’m gay, lesbian or bi – what now?

Firstly, congratulations! It can take time and work to accept your sexual identity, and you should feel really proud for making this step. If you think you are gay, lesbian or bi it can help to connect with other young people who are LGBTI+, to help you learn more about yourself and find friends with similar experiences. BeLonG To is a youth service in Ireland for LGBTI+ young people. Getting involved with an organisation like BeLonG To can be a way of finding support and friendship during a new stage in your life. 

Identifying your sexuality and becoming comfortable with it is a process that can take time, and there is nothing you have to do within a certain time frame. You might feel like you are ready to tell certain people in your life, and that is great, but you do not have to tell anyone unless you feel comfortable doing so. 

The opinion of our friends and family can mean a lot to us, and it can be nerve-wracking to both keep something from them or decide to tell them. If you are struggling with your feelings around telling someone you are gay, speaking about it can help. At spunout, we offer a 24/7 anonymous text message support service where you can connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better. Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin.

What are gay, lesbian and bi relationships like?

Gay, lesbian and bi relationships are as diverse and different as straight relationships. Any good relationship is based on love, care, respect, and communication, including gay and lesbian relationships. Relationships between two men or two women come in every shape and size – it depends on what you and your boyfriend, girlfriend or partner are looking for and want out of a relationship.

And what about gay or lesbian sex?

Just like couples of all sexual identities and genders, gay and lesbian people can have sex in loads of different ways and everyone has different tastes. It’s all about what you and your partner like and feel comfortable with. Just because you identify with one type of sexuality does not mean you have to have a certain type of sex. Whatever type of sex you chose to have should be the type that brings you and your partners pleasure. Pleasure should be central to all sexual experiences and it can take time to discover what it is you enjoy. 

It’s super important too that no matter what kind of sex you’re having, it’s emotionally and physically safe. You can read up about contraception, STIs, consent and respect. Find more information here.

Where can I meet other gay, lesbian and bi people?

When you’re growing up it can be hard to meet other gay and lesbian people, especially if you live in a rural area, but there are ways you can connect with other young people who are LGBTI+, to help you learn more about yourself and find friends with similar experiences. BeLonG To is a youth service in Ireland for LGBTI+ young people. Getting involved with an organisation like BeLonG To can be a way of finding support and friendship during a new stage in your life. 

Coping with discrimination and homophobia

Attitudes in society are changing, and there is much more support and acceptance for gay or lesbian people now than there ever has been before. Unfortunately, there are people out there that do not accept LGBTI+ people. When someone treats a person worse simply because they are gay, lesbian or bi, this is called homophobia. It can be really upsetting when someone doesn’t treat you as an equal for something completely outside of your control.

Remember though, there is nothing wrong with being LGBTI+, and it is actually something to be proud of, no matter what anyone says. Find out more about homophobia here.

Looking after your mental health

Being LGBTI+ can be amazing, but there are challenges too. Sometimes dealing with homophobia can be damaging to your mental health. It’s really important to look after yourself and make sure you’re getting enough support. You can find more information on this here.

I need more support

As we said, being gay can be amazing but there are challenges too. If you ever need any extra support, information or advice, there are always plenty of places you can turn to.

A good first port of call is BeLonG To. They are the national organisation for LGBTQ+ youth in Ireland. If you need any extra support, you can contact them on 01 670 6223 or visit their website at belongto.org.

These are some other useful numbers and services:

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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