Understanding your sexuality
What is sexuality?
Imagine sexuality as a colour paint chart with hundreds of different colours and shades - your sexuality can fit anywhere on this paint chart.
You might identify with many different colours, and your sexuality may change from day-to-day, or over weeks, months or years. Wherever you feel you fit, and whatever you decide, it's okay.
Watch the video titled 'The ABC's of LGBT+', which explains about the various labels out for gender and sexuality and what they mean.
"Don't feel pressured to identify. You can take your time to work it out" Young person at Outreach Youth, 2019
What can affect people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ+) and looking for help, is the fear of prejudice and ignorance. Although the argument of it not being 'natural' means nothing, it's often difficult for people to accept things they don't understand. That makes it even harder to find support and understanding. Whether you decide to come out or not, you can find support.
"Whatever you decide, it's okay."
Dealing with reactions from family and friends:
Telling your friends and family that you're lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning can be really difficult and upsetting if they don't seem to accept it.
When one young person came out to her family, her mum told her it was probably 'just a phase’, comparing it to an old leather jacket she went through a phase of wearing in her youth!
Hearing a response like that from someone in your family is hurtful. Fortunately, there is information and support out there for the families of young people who are LGBTQ+, and advice on accepting your child's sexuality or gender identity. You could try directing your family to one of these websites if it seems like they're struggling:
- Stonewall has some great advice for parents about supporting your child
- Some common questions asked by parents are also answered on BelongTo
"It gets better. It can take a while but it gets much easier" Dan at Outreach youth, 2019
It can be difficult at first coming out at school, but have confidence that people will get over it and stop caring. It can help to look at it from their viewpoint, it's not something that they expected and it can help to be understanding of them, like you want them to be understanding to you.
Advice from young people who have been through it:
- Don't think it's your fault and don't blame yourself.
- Try to accept that not everyone will be able to accept you but it doesn't mean you are in the wrong.
- Find people who will accept you for who you are. If they don't, find support from somewhere else, like Outreach Youth (see below), people you trust.
- Get free, safe and confidential online support from youth support workers, and speak to those who have experienced what you are going through. Try online support from Stonewall or Kooth
Getting help and advice
Find help and support from our advice pages and resources below:
- Homophobic bullying
- Understanding your gender identity
- Having any particular sexual orientation doesn't mean you have mental health issues but the experiences and emotions you are going through may affect your emotional health and wellbeing. Take a look at the YoungMinds website and their page on sexuality and mental health, and for local emotional wellbeing support services, go to our Mental Health and wellbeing page
- Stonewall Youth LGBT+ advice and help
- Starting Out careers guide - This guide from Stonewall lists the best employers in the UK for having LGBT friendly workplaces.
Get support from Outreach Youth
Outreach Youth is a youth project for LGBTQ+ young people aged around 13 – 19 years old across Suffolk.
Outreach Youth provides:
- a relaxed and safe environment to talk about life and share experiences
- a trans families project
- a chance to meet other LGBTQ young people
- a buddy system to introduce new young people to their project
- focus on issues young LGBTQ+ people want to know about e.g. coming out, relationships, homophobia, bullying etc.
- one to one support to LGBTQ+ young people, for those who don’t want to, or can’t, get along to Outreach Youth sessions (for 11-25 years)
- campaign work to end homophobic bullying and homophobia in organisations working with young people
To find out more and contact Outreach Youth, go to their website: www.outreachyouth.org.uk
Young people from Outreach Youth have shared their experiences with us so that we can talk about some of the issues on this page, and raise awareness that there is support out there to help you with every step that you take.
Sexual health issues for young people who are LGBTQ+ are broadly no different to straight men and women. The same message of prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) applies.
Remember to protect yourself by wearing a condom when having sex to reduce the risk of becoming infected.
All clinics, doctors, school nurses and health professionals must legally give the same level of help and support regardless of your sexual preference. For more advice, take a look at our sexual health pages.
February is LGBT+ History Month
For LGBT+ History Month this February, West Suffolk College has launched a video with Outreach Youth.
Outreach Youth are a LGBT Charity who support young people in Suffolk who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, transgender.
The video stars special guest speakers Bobby Norris (The Only Way Is Essex), and Elliott Mason-Wright (TV Presenter) who talk about their transgender experiences and handling online trolling with students at West Suffolk College.