Sexuality and Gender

‘How sexuality is a spectrum we’re all part of’

Sexuality is the word we use to describe our sexual interests and preferences. For some people these will stay the same throughout their lives, but for others they may change as they get older.

It does not matter if you know what you like and stick with it or if you like to experiment, what is important is that you feel comfortable with the sex you are having and the person or people you are sharing your sex life with.

Same sex attraction

It is not at all unusual to feel attracted to someone of the same sex and many people experience crushes or very close friendships with someone of the same sex as they are growing up. For lots of people this does mean that they are gay or lesbian, and they go on to have relationships with people of the same sex. For others, their feelings may change and they will find that they are more attracted to the opposite sex, or even both sexes.

Labels

Different words are used to describe sexual preferences, and you may have heard people described as straight, gay or bi. Some people like using these labels because it can be a way of connecting with other people who feel like them, but some people do not like to define themselves in this way. You may not know which of these you are, or may not feel that you fit neatly under one label. How you describe your sexuality is up to you and you don’t need to decide what your preferences are straight away, or ever.

Spectrum

An important thing to remember is that sexuality can change and that you do not have to decide who you are going to be attracted to and stick to it. Sexuality is not fixed and who you are attracted to can change over time, or even week to week! In fact, who you find yourself attracted to is not really something you can choose or control, which is part of the reason that sex and relationships can be confusing.

All the same

One really important thing to remember is that sexual feelings, sex and relationships can be confusing, exciting, scary and wonderful whoever you are attracted to, and the way you feel when you fancy someone is the same whether you like boys, girls or both.

People often think that being gay 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 2004, gay couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships giving them the same rights and responsibilities that married straight couples have.

When it comes to safer sex and avoiding sexually transmitted infections it also does not matter who you are having sex with, so it is important that you know how to protect yourself whether you are gay, straight or bi.

Page content supplied by www.tht.org.uk. Copyright 2012 © Terrence Higgins Trust.

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