How to Know if You Are Gay
Determining your sexual orientation can be a confusing experience, but only you can truly determine it, on your own terms. There's no test for it yet, so the most reliable method is to look at your history and feelings, and make an educated guess. Below is some helpful information on figuring out a little more about your sexuality.Note: In this guide, the term gay has been used to include all forms of homosexuality and bisexuality, whether that be people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, or other.
Knowing What Doesn't Make You Gay
Understand that fantasizing about members of the same gender does not necessarily mean that you are gay.Straight people do have the occasional "same gender fantasy": a woman having a strange dream involving a lesbian experience, or a man wondering about what it feels like to kiss that guy in the locker room. However, having a fantasy is a normal part of exploring your sexuality, and fantasizing about something doesn't necessarily mean you enjoy it.
- Since fantasies are an important part of exploring sexuality for many people, pay attention to how you feel about fantasies with people of the same gender, and how much you enjoy them compared to fantasies about other genders. Most straight people will not be easily satisfied by fantasies about people of their own gender.
Understand that having a homosexual encounter does not necessarily mean that you are gay.Smoking one cigarette does not make you a smoker.Of course, there will always be people out there who say that smoking one cigarette does make you a smoker. Don't listen to them. Sexuality is defined by who you are sexually attracted to, not your actions.
- Many people who later identify as gay have had heterosexual encounters, many of them quite satisfying. Many straight people, too, have experimented with people of the same gender, out of curiosity or attraction. Some straight people may even have sex with others of the same gender, but this doesn't necessarily mean they are sexually attracted to them, or that they are not straight.
- Also be aware that choosing an orientation for yourself will not flip a switch in your brain changing everything about how you feel. You can try, but chances are you won't be very successful. Moreover, there are no rules against identifying with a different orientation at a later date. Sexuality is fluid and many transgender people identify first as gay before discovering more about themselves.
- If you've had an encounter with someone of your own sex and feel anxious or unsettled about it, they probably weren't the right person for you. Resist making a generalization about your orientation and stick with what you know: thepersonyou were with wasn't right for you.
Understand what it means for someone to be transsexual or transgender.Transgender people are a smaller minority than homosexuals and many people have misconceptions and confusion about them.
- Many if not most of us have had some experience hearing about or maybe talking to a transgender woman (designated male at birth). Trans women are women and just as female as any other. If you're a man, being attracted to a trans woman does not mean you're gay! And if you're a woman, being attracted to a trans woman means the same thing as being attracted to a cis woman. In fact, you may not know if you've met a trans woman. Often transgender people work towards 'passing', meaning that they would appear cisgender (someone who identifies with the gender they were designated at birth; the opposite of transgender and the vast majority of us).
- Nonbinary people exist too. Being sexually attracted to a nonbinary person says nothing about whether you are straight or gay, and if you are a man or a woman, it doesn't automatically make you bisexual. Moreover, the gender they were assigned at birth doesn't say anything about your sexuality either. For example, if you are a woman attracted to a nonbinary person with a vulva and breasts, this doesn't necessarily make you gay.
- Even if you are attracted specifically to the idea of a woman with a penis or a man with a vulva, this still doesn't necessarily mean anything about your sexuality. Sexuality is about attraction to a gender, not a sex organ.
- Keep in mind the difference between masculinity/femininity and gender. Gender is very complicated. If you like more masculine women - or more feminine men - it doesn't necessarily mean much about your sexual preference. In fact there are a lot of traits traditionally associated with one gender that are considered attractive on the opposite gender today, such as women who are tall or have a more defined jawline, and men with long hair.
- If you are/were in a heterosexual relationship with someone who came out to you as transgender and they decide to transition, this doesn't say anything about your sexuality. If you are still sexually attracted to them after transition, you are probably not heterosexual. However you might find that you are no longer sexually attracted to them, but still romantically attracted. It may be difficult to continue to be in that relationship if you lose sexual and romantic attraction during transition.
Understand that not liking people of genders other than your own doesn't mean you're sexually attracted to the those of the same gender.You could be asexual (ace), that is, a person who doesn't experience sexual attraction to anyone. This has no influence on romantic attraction or interest in dating or bonding with others, in fact some asexual people even regularly participate in or enjoy sex, but they simply don't experience sexual attraction.
Figuring Out If You Are Gay
Be clear on your definition of gay.There are several different ways of thinking about whatmakesa person gay. The most commonly used dictionary definition of sexuality is that it is defined by who you are sexually attracted to. However, some people may identify as a different sexuality to what is given by this definition, for example a technically bisexual woman might identify as exclusively gay because they have only ever had sex with other women.Still, others believe that sexuality is a construct that is more or less forced on people through socialization.Whatever you believe, it's helpful to be clear on definitions, which are pretty much uncontested:
- Heterosexual (Straight): Being heterosexual means that you are sexually attracted to members of genders other than your own, but not for those of the same gender as you.
- Bisexual (Bi): Being bisexual means you are romantically and/or sexually attracted to two or more genders. Bisexuals can have a preference. Some argue that bisexual means attraction to exactly two genders, such as men and women (but not nonbinary people), but this is not a common definition.
- Polysexual: similar to bisexual and pansexual, however, poly-sexuals like two or more genders, but not all genders. For example, noma-sexuality, which is attraction to all people but men, is under the polysexual umbrella.
- Bi-curious: Being curious about both genders and/or not having enough experience to determine what sexuality you are
- Homosexual (Gay): Being homosexual means that you are sexually attracted to members of the same sex and you don't have sexual or romantic feelings for the opposite sex.
- Pansexual: Being pansexual means you are attracted to all genders. Pansexuals are attracted to men, women, and those outside of the gender binary. A common part of pansexuality is being "gender blind"; attracted to people regardless of what their gender is. For example, a bisexual person might be more sexually attracted to men than nonbinary people, and not attracted to women, but a pansexual person would not consider gender relevant to their sexual attraction at all.
- Asexual (Ace): Being asexual means you have no sexual attraction for any genders. Asexual people may still want a romantic or sexual relationship, and may even still enjoy sex, but do not experience sexual attraction.
- Aromantic: Aromantics experience no romantic attraction. They may still experience sexual attraction.
Understand a bit about what science says about being gay.Studies seem to support a strong genetic component in sexual orientation. A hot area of research currently is in epigenetics, or the study of how non-genetic factors influence the expression of genes. Geneticists hypothesize that homosexuality is linked to "epi-marks," or extra layers of information that determine how genes are expressed.Normally, epi-marks are deleted when genes get passed from parents to children. With homosexuals, scientists believe that epi-marks are not deleted, and instead passed on from either father to daughter or from mother to son.
- Scientists also think that having several older brothers increases the likelihood of a man being gay.A male born into a household of several older brothers is about 2% more likely to be gay, according to researchers at Brock University in St. Catherine, Canada.
- Scientists strongly doubt that environment plays a role in a person's sexuality.They believe that a person does not have a choice about whether they are gay, and that — on top of this — gay people do not usually become straight through self-dedication or coercion. Scientists have even determined that there may be an evolutionary benefit to being gay, called the "balancing selection hypothesis."
Think about your past romantic experiences with other genders.How did you feel when a person of another gender kissed you? Did you ever fantasize sexually about members of genders other than your own? Did you ever have crushes on a person of a different gender? If your past romantic history involved sexual or romantic encounters with other genders, encounters that still leave you sexually excited, this is probably an example of sexual attraction and there's a good chance that you are bisexual or straight.
Think about romantic experiences or fantasies with people of the same gender as you.Were there people you were afraid to admit you had a crush on due to other people's homophobia? Did you ever fantasize sexually about a member of the same gender as you? Did you find yourself consistently not attracted to the gender you thought you were supposed to be attracted to? If your romantic experiences with or fantasies about people of your own gender still leave you sexually excited, there's a good chance that you are gay or bisexual.
Examine your recent behavior with your friends and acquaintances.When you really look at it, can you detect any lingering romantic or sexual feelings about friends or acquaintances who happen to have the same gender as you? Remember that, while a sexual fantasy does not automatically make you gay, enjoying and wanting them to happen is an example of sexual attraction.
- Has there ever been a close friend you felt extra possessive of? One that you wanted to be your "best friend forever," someone who you were jealous of if they had a partner? Do you find that the idea of a naked person of the same gender gets you excited, not the abstract sense ("Oh, they're pretty.") but in a very real sense ("Wow. I want that")?
- If you play a lot of sport, do you try to tackle the same gender guard during every practice, just so that you can be close to them? Are you more than passingly interested in them? Do you try to get a look at their body in the locker room, getting excited about them taking off their shirt?
Examine who gets you aroused.We're talking about sexual arousal here. Try to obliterate any preconceived notions of who you'resupposedto be sexually attracted to. Picture many genders and examine which ones get you the most sexually aroused.
Being Proud Of and Comfortable With Being Gay
Remember that you are not alone.If you are gay, know that there are many, many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and straight people all over the world who have been in your situation. The doubt. The nagging guilt. The uncertainty. They've all been through it.Try not to think of your new sexual revelation as a burden; instead, think of it as a liberation. There is nothing wrong with being gay. You are not any less of a person for being who you are.
- Find people who are supportive of your questioning and who won't respond judgmentally, or worse, report you to local authorities, church leaders, or your parents. Talking to friends and family members is something you can worry about later when you're more confident about who you are.
- Know that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, transgender or anything in-between is okay. No one should make you feel bad about who you are inside. If your friends are your true friends, they will love you no matter what. If your parents love you, they will respect you for who you are, no matter what.
- Realize that the people attacking you probably have problems of their own. These people are usually the type who take out their anger on other people, perhaps because they are confused themselves. The people who may lash out at you do so because they are unhappy with themselves.
Watch out for anyone who insists that you're a confused heterosexual.Especially if that person doesn't know who you are, or is trying to pressure you to adopt a set of beliefs or a course of action. You may very well be "confused" or "experimenting," but only you can determine what you are. You have the right to determine what you call yourself, if you call yourself anything.
Realize that there are many different paths to discovering your sexuality.Some people know that they're gay from a very early age; others take time to discover their true nature, perhaps even realizing it only in later life. There is no statute of limitation on unwrapping your feelings and tendencies. If you feel a certain way, then you feel a certain way. Try to be grateful that you found out at all — some people wrestle with it their entire lives, never admitting that they could possibly be gay.
- Understand that narratives abound about why one develops a particular sexual orientation. This does not necessarily make it true, or even testable. Freudians have argued in the past that homosexuality is the result of "a distant father and overbearing mother" or the result of being stuck in the "anal stage of development." These hypotheses, while certainly interesting, have little grounding in fact or science, and have fallen into disuse by mainstream psychology.
Understand that sexuality is considered by some to be averycomplex issue.It's important not to let outside pressure exclusively determine your sexual identity. There are many shades of grey when it comes to sexuality; don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
- There is room for every degree of sexuality: some will be exclusively straight or gay, and never consider having sex outside their normal orientation. Some lesbians occasionally seek out male partners, and some gay men seek out female partners.
- There are many degrees of sexual orientation, and if you find you don't fit easily into one category, perhaps you are bisexual. Don't allow yourself to be labelled until or unless you are ready and willing to be.
- Regardless of preference to one gender or another, you have the right to be sexually "different". Our society puts a lot of emphasis on heteronormative sex - male dominance, female submission. Don't let this tie down your sexual orientation. There are lots straight men who are more submissive and lots of women who are more dominant sexually.
Don't attempt to undermine anyone's realization or fulfillment of their sexuality.Respect the privacy of individuals you know who may be wary about coming out. Coming to terms with one's sexual orientation is difficult and complicated enough. Don't make it harder on people trying to come to terms with it themselves.
- Don't look at the finding of your sexuality as a "struggle," because struggle implies a fight against something or yourself. Rather, see it as a journey of discovery, and consider seeking safe spaces where you can discuss your questions openly and meet others who are going through a similar process. Even if you don't identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, you can use this as a starting point to help the gay rights movement or just meet new people.
Keep in mind that sexuality is fluid and so are identities.Some people after coming out as gay or lesbian start acting or dressing what is perceived by others as "more gay". This happens because the person may want to fit the label more precisely, and that is not a bad thing, but labeling that behavior as fake or untrue is hurtful to that person. If your friends start accusing you of "acting more gay than before", ignore them. Be proud of who you are and be free to be whoever you want to be, without anyone telling how you should act or dress or talk or walk!
Remember that you can be attracted to multiple persons and you can fall emotionally and/or sexually for almost anyone.There are people who believe that they are born with their sexual preferences and there are those who don't. But each identity is a constructed one and there is nothing wrong with that. Feeling attraction to the same sex can make you feel confused about your sexual identity because you might be trying to fit in with the society's expectations to define yourself. You can identify as gay, lesbian, straight, queer, bisexual. But it is also okay if you don't want to label yourself.
- Feel free to fall in love and/or have sex with whoever you want and don't let the society dictate the way you live. That is easier said than done but the bottom line is to be true to yourself. Some people fall only for the persons of the opposite sex, some fall only for the persons of the same sex, some can fall for both. Don't feel pressure to label yourself especially if you feel that none of the labels really fit you. Be free to explore yourself and love and sex.
QuestionIs 12 too young to know your sexuality?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou're never too old or too young to know. Your sexuality may change, so keep that in mind.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I say to my family that I'm gay when I'm just too scared to tell them?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThing is, you don't have to tell them. Coming out is not a requirement to be the Ultimate Gay. If you're uncomfortable, or scared, don't do it. Take your time.Thanks!
QuestionI am romantically attracted to females but sexually attracted to men. Does that make me bi or ...?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou don't necessarily have to have a label, but if you would prefer to identify as bisexual, that works. Or, you can just not have a label. It's best to do what's going to make you most comfortable in the long run.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are you supposed to do if a parent keeps telling you that you're not gay, but you for a fact know that you are?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell your parents politely and gently that only you can know who you are and that if they really love you they would be able to accept it. Tell them that you are just being you. Tell them that it is a gift and that you are proud of it and hope that some day they accept it. If they continue to not accept it, ask that they at least refrain from trying to tell you who you are. Go about finding supportive people among your friends.Thanks!
QuestionCan you be mostly attracted to one gender, but have one person that just breaks that?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, there is a diagram that shows this called the "Kinsey scale of sexual behavior". Look this up and you might find that you fit into the category '1' or the catagory '5', depending on your gender and which gender you are attracted to.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if my parents are mad at me for being gay and I'm feeling suicidal?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCall the suicide hotline. Your parents don't define your value. You are worth it in your own right.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you come out to your friends?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
QuestionMy classmate always touches my butt.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf your classmate is touching you inappropriately without your permission or consent, tell a teacher or another faculty member right away.Thanks!
QuestionIf when I tell my family that I am a lesbian and they react badly, what do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLet them feel that way. Maybe later on, after the initial shock, they will accept you. Maybe they won't. What is important is that you accept you. However, it is recommended that you come out if you have a safe place (away from your family) to go to afterward, just in case aggression starts to build. Your safety is your biggest concern.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if you're shy and a loner? Does that make a minor or bigger difference in loving a certain sex?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust because you're shy doesn't change who you are, but keep in mind, it may take longer to figure out what you identify with. Experiences definitely make this journey a little bit more clear, but it's not required.Thanks!
If you’re not sure how to know if you are gay, think about any past romantic experiences you have had. If you have had only had crushes on people of a different gender, you are probably straight. If you have had romantic experiences or fantasies involving people who are the same gender as you, then there is a good chance you are gay or bisexual, but it's okay if you're a little confused. Also, if you don't want to, you don't have to label yourself at all. You like who you like, and you can leave it at that. It may help to think of loving people, rather than their gender.
- Just because people who areconventionallysexy don't turn you on doesn't mean you do not like that gender. Maybe you prefer a skinny build to an athletic build, or small-breasted women? Try imagining doing sexual things with people of the same or opposite sex (not necessarily someone you actually know). Ask yourself what you find attractive, and what turns you on.
- Remember that there's nothing that qualifies you or anything else for a particular sexual orientation other than being attracted to people of a certain gender. Also remember that Pride parades are not necessarily representative of everyday life for most gay people, any more than a Halloween party is representative of life for people in general. Also realize it's ok to be straight and enjoy pride parades or any other combination. Your value as a human being is not determined by your sexual orientation or fashion sensibilities.
- If you don't want to, you don't have to label yourself at all. You like who you like, and leave it at that. You can tell people that, and it's polite for them not to read too much into it. It may help to think of sexual orientation as a spectrum, or to think of yourself as lovingpeople, not just their gender.
- An educator once said "A therapist's job is to help you find out what you think; if they tell you what they think you are, then they aren't a good therapist."
- Just because someone is attracted to some people of a particular gender, doesn't mean they're attracted to everyone of that gender, and not everyone of a particular sexual orientation is going to be attracted to you. Most people in most everyday circumstances are being friendly or professional, not sexual.
- Don't worry if people judge you because you are a gay. Don't listen to them. Remember some of the people around you are gays. So don't worry because you are the only gay person around. Don't care what other people think, be yourself.
- If you're uncertain or fearful about what it would be like to be a member of a sexual minority, the best way to deal with that is to meet people who are in that minority. You'll probably find that most of them seem about as normal as anyone else.
- Be proud of yourself, do not let anybody put you down. If they can not accept you for who you are then you don't need to be around them always. Keep your heart and mind open as you never know what's around the corner.
- Please note: This isn't necessarily a fool-proof guide to knowing if you are gay. Really, only you are the one who can figure out your sexuality. Enjoy the experience!
- Many people may judge you or try to; don't take notice of them because all they are doing is trying to bring you down and if they cannot accept that you're gay or lesbian or bi then don't associate yourself with them. Rather try to be around people who accept you for who you are and don't have a problem with who you want to be.
- You may spend lots of time questioning your own sexuality. If you have been honest to friends and family about your questioning, some of them may start to conclude that you "he/she must be gay" and try to help you come out of the closet. Even though they think they are helping you they are not - unless they ask you a lot of questions that help you realize yourself. There are a lot of straight people who think they may be gay and obsess about this - you may be one of them.
- Search online for stories of people who are bisexual, gay, or lesbian. They don't have to be similar to your story, in fact, everyone's coming out experience is by definition unique. See these online stories as a source of inspiration. Online resources can be a great source of information and online message boards can be very useful in connecting you with other questioning people, like . Seek out gay people or others who are questioning and talk to them. You can attend anonymous support groups in your community.
- What do you enjoy more? Instead of just thinking sexually, think intimately with both genders. (Kissing, hugging, etc) If your reaction is more along the lines of "Meh, whatever..." Then chances are you're not attracted to the gender in the corresponding fantasy.
- There is nothing wrong with labeling yourself but don't let your label prevent you from acknowledging your feelings. Some lesbians can fall for straight guys, gay guys can fall for trans guys, straight girls, bi guys, bi girls. Create labels but don`t let them constrain you regardless of what straight or the LGBT community says.
- You'll know once you find what attracts you to other people. Trust what you feel towards someone.
- Oftentimes there are clubs/community groups that are dedicated to the LGBTQSA / GSA community (LGBTQSA stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Straight, Asexual and GSA is an all inclusive term standing for Gay Straight Alliance) where you can feel free to express your thoughts and potentially get some help in discovering who you really are. If you are uncomfortable with going to one of these meetings due to privacy concerns or are simply unable to attend in general, search online for some chat groups. Be weary of websites that are considered "not safe for work", as they are more common than "safe for work" LGBT chat groups.
- Try to find friends that are accepting. If your current friends don't like that you are gay, find new ones. Trying to convince them of your sexuality isn't worth it.
- If you are still figuring things out, but do know that you definitely are not attracted to the opposite gender, tell people that you are still figuring it out; but if they say you are just a confused straight person, politely correct them and don't let them tell you who you are.
- If someone is judging or dismissive of your sexual orientation, cut ties with them. Don't worry about breaking up friendships, if they can't accept who you are, they aren't for you.
- Do not hide from your potentially negative feelings about your sexual orientation in drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse will only make accepting yourself more difficult than it may already be. This will only further compound your problems, leading you into becoming a nervous wreck.
- Choose your friends wisely; you don't have to befriend other gay people simply because you have just discovered that you are gay yourself. On the other hand, having gay friends can provide you with a support network of people who are going through similar experiences as you. Seek out caring, supportive, levelheaded people within the community who share your interests.
- Don't let anyone force you to label yourself. If you do, remember that no one has the right to question your proclaimed identity: you have the right to label yourself anything you want, just as you have every right on this goddamn earth to love whoever you want and to have sex with whoever you want. Regardless of what your parents, your preacher, your queer friends or your straight friends might tell you. Be whoever you feel like being. And if you change your mind about who you are along the way- don`t feel guilty for a second. You don`t owe it to anyone to justify your life or your choices.
- Practice safe sex at all times; same-sex sexual activities can lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) just like opposite-sex encounters can.
- Do not shut out the straight world or your straight friends. Sexual orientation is an integral part of who you are, yet you should keep a diversity of friends and associates in your life.
- The conflicting and confusing emotions that may accompany the realization that you are gay can make it difficult to act rationally when presented with your first same sex experience. Take care of yourself, and try to not be intoxicated when you are exploring your sexuality.
Sources and Citations
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