Is “coming out” about your sexuality, stressing you out?
“I was so scared to tell anybody about who i really fancied in case they called me a freak or a queer or even hit me. I’m glad i talked to my friends now though and i just take every day as it comes”
In your teens, you have lots of emotions and sexual feelings and its at this time that some people know that they prefer people of the opposite sex and others feel that they prefer people of the same sex.
There isn’t a definite age when people will decide which sexual orientation they are – some people only realise theirs when they are adults.
Definitions of sexual orientation
- Homosexual / Gay = Sexual or romantic attraction to a person of the same sex, (i.e. man + man)
- Lesbian = Sexual or romantic attraction to a person of the same sex – this is the same as homosexual but people usually only refer to women + women as lesbian.
- Heterosexual / straight = Sexual or romantic attraction between opposite sexes, and this is the most common sexual orientation among humans.
- Transgendered = This is the term usually used to describe people who do not act in usual ‘accepted’ gender roles. For example, cross-dressers, drag queens and people who identify as gender neutral.
- Bisexual = Sexual or romantic attraction to people of both sexes. Most bisexuals are not equally attracted to men and women and may find one gender more attractive than the other at certain times of their lives.
- The term LGBT refers to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered
No one knows what makes people gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual or straight, all we know is that there is no right or wrong.
“Coming out” is when someone who is gay, lesbian or bisexual tells the people around them about their sexuality. It is thought that people know between the ages of 11 and 16 years old that they have feelings of being different and most people will come out at around age 15 years old; but everybody is different and there is no rush if you aren’t ready.
Click this link to be taken to the NHS Choices website have videos where people talk about how they felt before they came and out and afterwards. This could really help you see that you are not alone in what you are feeling and how you are thinking.
This period of time can be extremely stressful as many young people:
- are scared to tell anybody because they feel they won’t understand
- think they will not be liked anymore by friends and family
- Are frightened of being bullied
- Have been brought up to think being gay is wrong
It is up to you who and when you decide to tell somebody but it would make sense to tell somebody you can trust like a family member or a friend. If you want to chat online with someone about anything that’s worrying you click here to use the Childline chat that works like MSN messenger. This is for young people up to and including 19 years old.
Even though, in society, there are many people who do not think being gay is a big deal there are still people who are not comfortable with it. They may act or treat you differently and this can affect your mental health and wellbeing.
Mental health problems are reported to be higher in gay and bisexual people and linked to homophobic bullying and discrimination.
This treatment can mean many gay and bisexual people face:
- difficulty accepting their sexual orientation, leading to conflicts, denial, alcohol abuse and isolation
- trying to keep their sexuality a secret through lying, pretending or leading a double life
- low self-esteem
- increased risk of self-harm and suicide attempts
- damaged relationships or lack of support from families
- post-traumatic stress disorder and depression from long-term effects of bullying
So if you feel you are becoming depressed/anxious then you must speak to your GP.
If you are having suicidal thoughts then you must get help immediately.