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Information » Health » Sexuality and Sexual Health » Sexual Orientation



Sexual Orientation

Sexual Identity: Sexual identity consists of an individual's sexual orientation, their preferences and how they define their individual sexuality.

This can be roughly broken down into

  • heterosexuality - you are physically, romantically, or sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex
  • homosexuality - you are physically, romantically or sexually attracted to people of the same sex
  • asexuality - you are not or may have low levels of physical, romantic or sexually attraction to people
  • Any combination of these (such as bisexuality)

Don’t feel you need to label yourself, often your sexual orientation can be fluid and can develop over time.

You may have seen the terms LGBT, LGBT+ and LGBTQIA. The LGBT part stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender.

Lesbian

Lesbian is a term used to describe the sexual and romantic attraction between women. Some women who are attracted to a same sex partner prefer to use ‘gay’ to describe their sexual orientation, or use no label at all.

Having one or more sexual experiences with another woman or having romantic ‘crushes’ towards women does not necessarily mean you are a lesbian. The opposite is also true as some lesbians have had sexual experiences with someone of the opposite sex. You don’t have to have a girlfriend to be a lesbian and you don’t have to have sex with another girl to know that you are a lesbian.

Gay

Gay is a term used to describe the sexual and romantic attraction between people of the same sex. Some women who are attracted to a same sex partner prefer to use ‘lesbian’ to describe their sexual orientation, or use no label at all.

Having one or more sexual experiences with someone of the same sex or having romantic ‘crushes’ towards someone of the same sex does not necessarily mean you are gay. The opposite is also true, as some gay people have had sexual experiences with someone of the opposite sex. You don’t have to have a same sex partner to be gay and you don’t have to have sex with another person of the same sex to know that you are gay.

Bisexuality

Bisexuality means you have the capacity to love and be sexually attracted to more than one gender. As it’s normal to question your sexuality, you could be asking yourself whether you’re gay, lesbian, or just curious.

This could be because you are bisexual and you actually like more than one gender. Having a relationship with one gender and then having several relationships with another gender does not define your sexuality or the ‘label’ that is used.

Transgender

Transgender information can be found in the Gender Identity section.

Asexuality

An asexual person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. However this doesn’t mean that an asexual person can’t be in a romantic or a sexual relationship. Romantic and sexual attraction are two totally different entities.

The three main orientations that fall under the asexuality banner are Asexual Aromantics, Asexual Romantics and Demisexuals and Grey-As. More info can be found in this article

Sources: Out & Proud And Living With It: A guide for young people who identify as LGBT or those questioning their sexuality or gender identity by Loud & Proud, Norena @ Cardiff Wales LGBT Mardi Gras and Wikipedia.

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