Sexuality can be confusing at the best of times; however if you are attracted to the same sex then sexuality can place you under an enormous amount of stress. Feeling unsure about your sexual orientation, or unable to reveal your sexual identity for fear of rejection or discrimination can be an immensely difficult experience, sometimes leading to depression and even suicidal thoughts. If you are in this situation, remember that it gets better with time. You will find your sexual place in the world, and have people around you who support and accept you for who you are.
Some people know they are same sex attracted from a very young age. However, for many others, there is a period of uncertainty or questioning. Not everyone who questions their sexuality ends up identifying as gay or bi. Many young people have sexual experiences with their own sex or 'feelings' towards someone of the same gender at some point; this is a normal part of exploring your sexuality. You may or may not end up deciding that this is your preferred form of sexual expression.
Labels such as 'gay', 'bi', 'queer' or 'straight' are just that: labels. They help to place ourselves and others into easily understood categories. But you are a person, not a label or a pigeon-hole. Getting hung up on defining your sexuality before you are ready can cause a lot of unnecessary angst. If you are unsure what to call yourself at this point, a better approach might be just to think of yourself as a sexual being. In time it is likely that you will find a label that feels right.
All sexual preferences are perfectly normal. Same sex attraction is no way unusual, immoral, abnormal or sick. It does not need to be cured or fixed. There are thousands of young people going through the same situation at this moment. In fact, one in four families will have a family member who is gay or lesbian. There are an estimated 2 million same sex attracted people in Australia.
Coming out is the process of telling friends, family members, or others about your same sex attraction. Many people fear negative reactions when they disclose their sexuality. Sometimes this fear is justified. Although attitudes are much more accepting than they once were, it is still possible that some people will react badly. This can be very disappointing and hurtful, especially if it comes from someone close, like your own family. On the other hand, many young people are surprised by very supportive, accepting responses.
Coming out can be a huge relief. It may ease the feelings of isolation. You may feel like you can finally be yourself, and not have to lie any more. However it is extremely important that you do this only when you feel comfortable with the situation.
Homophobia is an attitude of irrational fear or hostility towards gays and lesbians. It can take a subtle form, such as put-downs or 'jokes', or be expressed in overt discrimination, harassment or violence. Most gays and lesbians will experience homophobic attitudes at some point, and it is often very distressing. It is important to remember that just because you are attracted to the same sex doesn't mean you lose any of your rights as a human being. Harassment and violence are unacceptable regardless of whom they are directed at.
MensLine Australia offers non-judgemental, confidential and anonymous assistance to men with relationship concerns, including issues around same sex attraction. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.