How do I know if I am gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual?

Although we talk more openly about variations in sexual orientation these days, it is still not seen as acceptable by some groups to be anything other than heterosexual. This puts a lot of pressure on anyone who thinks they may have another sexual orientation. It also means that many gay and bisexual people hide their sexual orientation so that young people have few role models to help them learn to be comfortable with being themselves. No-one knows for sure when or how sexual orientation is determined. Some men and women talk about knowing from early childhood that they had a sexual interest in the same sex or opposite sex. Others want to experiment to learn about themselves and find out what meets their needs. Many people become clear about their sexual orientation by late adolescence - they find they are attracted to one gender, their fantasies and arousing dreams feature this gender and if they are sexually active then this is the gender they seek out and find most stimulating. Some people discover they can be attracted to and enjoy sex with either gender- these people may call themselves bisexual. Some people who have had bad sexual experiences with one gender choose to only have sex with the other gender. That way they have no negative associations so can enjoy the sex.

Whatever your sexual orientation, learning to like yourself, to be comfortable with your sexuality and to enjoy being sexual in a loving, respectful relationship are popular life goals.

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