Sexuality and sexual orientation is about who you are physically and emotionally attracted to. Everyone is different, and sometimes understanding your sexuality can be confusing.

Questioning your sexuality

It's natural to be confused about your sexuality or to need time to work out who you are. It's okay not to be sure.

Some people know who they’re attracted to from a really young age. For other people it’s not so simple and can take a while to work out.

If you’re not sure about your sexuality, you might:

  • not be sure what it means if you ‘like’ someone
  • be scared about how other people will react
  • worry about what it means for your community or religion
  • want to come out and tell people
  • try to find a sexuality that ‘fits’ how you feel.

It might take some time to work out what your sexual orientation is. Remember there's no such thing as normal. And you don't have to feel pressured or rushed to give yourself a label.

However you’re feeling about your sexuality, we’re here to support you.

5 things to remember about your sexuality: 

  1. Sexuality isn’t a choice.
  2. It takes different people different amounts of time to understand their sexuality.
  3. 'Coming out' can be a tough experience but it can often get easier as you start to tell more people.
  4. There are lots of different types of sexuality.
  5. Sexuality can change over time - this is OK.

What does sexuality mean?

LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and more. Even though people refer to them together, gender identity isn’t the same as sexuality.

When people talk about sexuality they often mean sexual and romantic attraction. But these aren’t always the same:

  • Sexual attraction is how physically attracted to someone you are, and includes whether you would like to have sex with them.
  • Romantic attraction is how much you’re emotionally attracted to someone.

You might feel both romantic and sexual attraction to the same people or these might be different.

Watch: LGBTQ+ Stereotypes

Sexuality Definitions

There are lots of types of sexuality and its okay if you don’t fit into just one. For some people their sexuality is fluid and can change over time.

Some common terms used to describe sexuality are:

Sex and being LGBTQ+

The age of consent for anyone in the UK is 16 no matter what their sexuality is. But your sexuality doesn’t mean that you have to have sex. Or do anything that you are uncomfortable with.

Consent means saying yes to having sex or doing sexual acts without feeling pressured or like you can’t say no. Find out more about sex and relationships.

Sexuality and your religion

It can be scary when your religion doesn’t agree with your sexuality. Your family or community might have strong beliefs about sexuality or you might be worried about your own values.

For some young people, coming out about their sexuality can be dangerous. If you’re worried about your safety or how people might react, you can always talk to Childline to get support.

You can also share your worries anonymously on the message boards to get support from people in the same position.

Coming out

Coming out is when you tell someone else about your sexuality. Coming out can help people to feel less isolated and more able to cope with their feelings. But it can also feel risky or unsafe.

The first step to coming out is being able to admit to yourself what your sexuality is. LGBTQ+ people usually don’t come out just once but will come out lots of times to lots of different people.

Read our tips on how to come out

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Bullying and discrimination

LGBTQ+ people have the right to feel safe and be accepted. But sometimes people do bully or discriminate based on sexuality. If this has happened to you we’re here to help. Read our advice on discrimination.

Watch: LGBTQ+ Stereotypes

Watch: All about asexuality

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