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Discovering Your Sexual Orientation

It's funny, really. The questions "could I be straight?" and "how should I tell my family and friends I'm heterosexual?" basically just don't come up. That's because heterosexual is still seen as the norm, as what you're assumed to be until you're not. 

Still, the topic of how one discovers they're straight merits some discussion. It usually goes something like this (not necessarily in that order):

  • As you grow into adolescence, and perhaps even a tad before, you become curious about your own body and may discover masturbating. 
  • You also develop an interest in relationships and how they work. 
  • You have a crush. You think, "Gee, I really like this person!". You fantasize about kissing them, about being intimate with them, about dating them or being boyfriend and girlfriend. Exactly how "crushy" the crush is and how you fantasize about your crush depends on your age and development, and on how severe the crush is..  

Pretty much the same process is involved in discovering your sexuality and sexual orientation regardless of whether you're gay, straight, bi, pansexual, asexual, or whatever else. There may be one important difference, though. Young people growing up in environments where anything un-straight isn't socially acceptable may struggle with their self-realization that they are queer and may wish they weren't gay, or even enter into a state of deep self-denial. Alternatively, it's also possible that they fully accept and realize who they are, but decide to hide it for the sake of safety, acceptance, or both. 

Does Being Aroused By A Same-Sex Body Mean You Are Gay?

Not necessarily. Often, graphic images, situations (such as seeing a same-sex friend naked in an erotic pose), or fantasies arouse you simply because they're sexual and our brains are primed to react to that stuff. (I've answered questions about people being aroused by sex noises before, for instance, even when the sex noises come from folks you'd definitely not want to get intimate with!)

If this has happened to you, picture yourself having sex with and being in a relationship with someone of the same sex and someone of another sex. Are you merely aroused by what you've seen or thought about, or would you put your arousal into action, given the chance? When you think about the future, d you see yourself in a relationship with a woman or a man? The information you get from these thought processes should help you determine whether you're just aroused, or whether you're discovering your sexual orientation. 

I Really Think Or Know I'm Gay,  Should I 'Come Out' Now?

That's up to you. 

Before you do come out as gay, if you decide to and it's safe, you may want to:

  • Read stories or watch videos created by people who have come out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual before you. 
  • If you live in a place where being queer is not especially dangerous but you are worried because you are not sure how your immediate environment (friends and family) would react to your coming out as gay, broach the topic in some other way. Talk about a celebrity who has just come out, for instance, and ask them what they think. 
  • Practice by telling someone on the internet, anonymously. 
  • Prepare yourself for negative reactions as well as positive reactions. 
  • Start by telling someone you're pretty sure will be absolutely fine with your announcement.
  • Coming out is about you. Don't feel that you have the duty to do it before you feel ready. 

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