What does gay mean?
A person (male or female) who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to the members of a gender or sex that is seen to be the same as the one with which they identify.
For example: a man that is romantically intereseted in another man or a woman that is romantically interested in another woman.
What does it mean to be gay?
Men who call themselves gay are sexually attracted to and fall in love with other men. Their sexual feelings toward men are normal and natural.
Research estimates that about one in ten people in the world may be gay or lesbian (lesbians are women who are attracted to other women). This means that in any large group of people, there are usually several gay or lesbian people present. However, no one can tell whether someone is gay unless he or she wants it known. Gay people blend right in with other people in all our communities, but they often feel different from other people.
Being gay is just one facet of a person – who they are attracted to. Gay people are of all races, ethnicities, classes, abilities, professions, political ideologies, religions…. Being gay doesn't mean anything else!
How do I know if I'm gay?
You may not have language to describe your feelings, and that’s ok. Sexual identity develops over time. Some people have a sense or understanding early on about their attractions and some people develop it later in life. Everyone is different.
As you get older, you will figure out who really attracts you. Boys with truly gay feelings find that, over time, their attraction to guys gets more and more clearly focused. You may find yourself falling in love with a classmate or developing a crush on a particular guy. You may find these experiences pleasurable, troubling, or a mix of the two.
If you think you might be gay, here are some questions that may help you to figure it out:
- When I dream or fantasize about someone, is that person a boy or girl?
- Have I ever had a crush or been in love with a guy?
- Do I feel different than other guys?
- Are my feelings for guys clear?
If you don’t have answers to these questions, it’s alright. Time and life experience will help on your journey. Just remember, only you can say whether you are gay or not!
How can I accept my identity?
It’s not easy to discover that you are gay. Sadly, some people judge and are uncomfortable being around gay men. As a result, to be gay can still be dangerous. It makes sense that some gay youth might choose not to share their feelings. You might feel this way….you might even choose to keep your feelings from yourself. Maybe you avoid other youth that are gay because it doesn't’t feel safe to be associated with them.
“Being in the closet” (which means to not disclose your sexual orientation to others) can be a painful and lonely place, especially if you stay there in order to survive. It takes a lot of energy to deny or hide your feelings.
Self-acceptance is a journey; there isn't’t anything that will make you feel great about being gay overnight, but here are a few helpful tips:
- Surround yourself with people that care about and love you.
- Be yourself. Being gay is just one part of you, honor all your identities.
- Practice acceptance by supporting and accepting others.
- Remember that you are not alone!
The Alliance is committed to ensuring that all our youth are safe and healthy. If we can support you, let us know. We’ll be there.