Over the course of your life, you are most likely going to find yourself attracted to another person. Who that person is may be based on things like their sense of humor, their personality, and their looks. It will also be based on your sexual orientation.
Sexual orientation is the overall term that is used to describe people’s physical and/or romantic attractions to other people. The most common labels are heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.
So what do these labels mean? Heterosexual or “straight” is used to describe people who are attracted to and fall in love with people of another gender/sex. Homosexual (“lesbian” for females and “gay” for males) is used to describe people who are attracted to and fall in love with people of the same gender/sex. The term bisexual is used to describe people who are attracted to and fall in love with people of either the same or another gender/sex.
People can get really caught up with labeling themselves or others. Sometimes, we’re not sure which label might apply to us or whether we need one at all. But the reality is that we live in a society that wants to label everyone.
For some people, their sexual thoughts and feelings are different from how they label themselves. That means that a guy who considers himself to be “straight” could be attracted to a man, maybe even be sexual with that man, but not consider himself to be bisexual or gay. This is ok. The most important thing is to be comfortable with who you are.
Understanding your sexual orientation can be confusing, scary, and lonely. But it can also be freeing to identify this one aspect of who you are. It can take a long time to figure out, and even once you think you’ve done it, something might happen that makes you question what you thought you knew. This is all totally normal.
There are many organizations that can help you learn more about sexual orientation. You might want to start by checking out www.youthresource.com. It might also be helpful to find resources near you. To find out if your school has a Gay-Straight Alliance check on www.glsen.org or to find other local support programs log on to www.nyacyouth.org and click on the “Find a Program Near Me” link.