How do I recognise my sexual orientation?

Some background, some drama

Raging hormones. Puberty changes. Adolescence is the dawn of sexual attraction. These changes involve both the body and the mind; so just thinking about someone attractive can cause physical arousal. These new feelings can be intense, confusing and sometimes even overwhelming. It’s when you begin to discover what it means to be attracted romantically and physically to others. And recognizing one's sexual orientation and which gender the person is attracted to is part of that process.

Do’s and Don’ts

The term sexual orientation refers to the gender (that is, male or female) to which a person is attracted. Determining your sexual orientation can be a confusing experience, but only you can truly determine it, on your own terms. The most reliable method is to look at your history and feelings, and make an educated guess. The “How Do I" series tries to list down a few Do’s and don’ts to guide and help you to recognise your sexual orientation.

Do’s

  • Do understand that fantasizing about members of the same sex does not necessarily mean that you are gay. Straight people do have the occasional same-sex fantasy. But you may lean primarily in that direction.
  • Do understand that having a random homosexual encounter does not necessarily mean that you are gay. Having a history of behaving in a certain way predicts and determines your orientation.
  • Do understand that not liking the opposite sex doesn't mean you like the same sex. You could be asexual.
  • Do understand clearly the definition of gay and sexuality. Understand your innate personality, your preferences and choices which would determine your course of action.
  • Do remember that you are not alone. Try not to think of your sexual revelation as a burden; instead, think of it as liberation.
  • Do find people who are supportive of your questioning and who won't respond judgmentally or worse, report you.
  • Do talk to friends and family members when you're more confident about who you are. No one should make you feel bad about who you are inside.
  • Feel free to fall in love and/or have sex with whoever you want and don`t let the society dictate the way you live. Just be true to yourself. Be free to explore yourself and love and sex.
  • Do navigate the process of coming out to others, especially family members.
  • Interact with other persons from the LGBT community. This may help you gain perspective and understand and accept yourself better.

Dont’s

  • Don't look at the finding of your sexuality as a struggle. Rather, see it as a journey of discovery where you can discuss your questions openly and meet others who are going through a similar process.
  • Don’t hesitate to seek help. Friends, family, counsellors, etc. can guide you and help understand and figure out who you are.
  • Don't allow yourself to be labelled until or unless you are ready and willing to be .There are many degrees of sexual orientation and you need to see which describes you best.
  • Don't let society tie down your sexual orientation. Regardless of preference to one gender or another, you have the right to be sexually different.
  • Don't attempt to undermine anyone's realisation or fulfillment of their sexuality. Coming to terms with one's sexual orientation is difficult; don’t make it harder on people trying to come to terms with it themselves.

Sources and citations