Sexual Orientation (LGB+)
What is a sexual orientation?
A person’s sexual orientation, or sexuality, is the part of their identity that relates to who they find attractive/who they fancy. Although it’s in the name, the attraction to other people does not have to be sexual, it could be romantic. Some people are attracted to a particular gender/genders, some people are attracted to who the person is (their morals, values, humour, intelligence, etc.), and for some it’s a combination of the two. Attraction can feel different for different people; it can involve wanting to be around a person more, thinking about them when you are not with them, “butterflies” in your stomach, feeling giddy or nervous when you are together and more.
Figuring out your sexual orientation
We currently live in a heteronormative society where everyone is assumed/expected to be straight. Because of this it can feel quite daunting to step back and ask yourself “Am I straight/gay/etc.?”. But you are the only person that is able to answer that question.
Nothing has “caused” you to feel this way and there is nothing wrong or weird about the way you are feeling. However, what you are feeling is completely valid and you shouldn’t put yourself under pressure to figure out your sexuality immediately. Take the time to explore your feelings and reflect on how you are feeling – it will be difficult to understand them if you ignore them.
You might find it helpful to talk to other people who have gone through or are going through the process of questioning their sexuality. You can meet other LGBT+ young people at your nearest LGBT+ youth group or you can talk to a trusted adult using our Proud Connections chat service.
It might help you to explore the rest of the information in the section on Sexual Orientation, especially the part on Ways People Describe Their Sexuality. It can be comforting to find a word that fits how you are feeling. Do not feel any pressure to “label” your identity but take the time to explore it. If you do choose to label your sexuality, be aware that later you might choose to change how you describe yourself; this is completely usual, and many other people do this too as they come to better understand their feelings.
Words people may use to describe their sexual orientation
We have put together some of the words people may use to describe their sexuality. You should not feel any pressure to assign yourself a “label”. Although some people like having a word to describe their sexuality, others do not like to label themselves and so never do.
Click on the boxes below to reveal a definition.
There are other ways people describe their sexual orientation that are not on the list, and the language we have to describe sexuality continues to grow and evolve.
Let us know via the form below if your identity is missing or you can’t find a word to describe your feelings.