Not So Straight

An Information and Referral Website for Young People

"Approximately 10% of Australians are homosexual."

Frequently Asked Questions - Am I Gay?

How do I know if I am lesbian?

You are the only one who can know if you are a lesbian.

A lesbian is defined as a woman who is sexually attracted towards other women. Being lesbian can also be defined as emotional attraction toward women.

If you are physically attracted or romantically attracted towards other women, it doesn’t mean that you are a lesbian, this could just be an indication that you are 'not so straight'.

Being a lesbian doesn't mean that you have to have sex with women. It is up to you to choose to what extent you follow your sexuality.

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How do I know if I am gay?

You are the only person who can know if you are gay.

A gay man is defined as a man who is sexually attracted towards other men. Being gay can also be defined as belonging to the gay community (whatever this is).

If you are physically attracted or romantically attracted towards other guys, it doesn’t mean that you are gay, this could just be an indication that you are 'not so straight'.

Being gay doesn't mean that you have to have sex with men. Having sex with other men doesn't mean you need to identify as being homosexual or gay either. It is up to you to choose to what extent you follow your sexuality and identify with the labels that are commonly used.

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How do I know if I am bisexual?

You are the only person who can know if you are bisexual.

Being bisexual is defined as being sexually attracted to both men and women.

Being bisexual at present can be doubly difficult: you can face rejection by both the heterosexual and homosexual communities because you can be seen as just sitting on the fence and not making a decision. While in a relationship the fear that you will be lost to a person of the other sex is greater because it means you are reverting to your "real" sexuality. Also bisexuals are supposed to be able to "hide" in either community.

There is an increasingly visible separate bisexual community as well as a number of support groups specifically for bisexuals.

Many married men like to have a bit of male to male sex on the side. This can be considered as being bisexual, if you wish to label yourself as such.

Being a bisexual doesn't mean that you have to have sex with both men and women. It is up to you to choose to what extent you follow your sexuality.

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Is sexuality nature or nurture?

Many people ask "why am I gay?" What are the reasons behind my sexual preference for members of the same sex?

Many theories abound and no one theory totally explains the diversity of human sexual orientation. Is it nature or nurture? Is our sexual orientation determined by our upbringing or is it biological, predetermined before birth?

Many social or environmental explanations have been proposed. Some of these theories suggest that attraction to the same sex is something that is learned or arises from the environment we live in or have been raised in, and the interactions we have with others during our development.

Biological theories propose that sexuality is something that is innate and is predetermined before birth. Being gay or lesbian may be inheritable; lines of evidence arising from same sex preferences in closely related individuals and the possible existence of a "gay gene".

Some believe the answer lies in an interaction between nature and nurture. Perhaps biological mechanisms do not specify sexual orientation alone, but instead influence particular personality traits and thereby influence the manner in which an individual and their environment interact as sexual orientation and other personality characteristics unfold developmentally.

Still others believe that the "causation" is irrelevant and there is not really any need to determine why people feel attracted to others of the same sex. It is a natural phenomenon and many choose to affirm it rather than question it.

The origins of homosexuality may never be fully understood, and being gay or lesbian is so varied and complex, and different for every person. It is important to keep in mind that no one theory to date explains completely the origins of attraction to members of the same sex. No single neat explanation is adequate at present or is likely to suffice to explain any one man's or woman's sexual orientation.

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Feel like you'd rather be heterosexual?

Discovering your sexuality is not always a pleasant experience and some young people may feel like they'd rather be straight. There are many stages in accepting sexuality. If you're feeling like this check out some of the online services and real services on Not So Straight (like Twenty 10), you might find something that can help you figure it all out.

Some quotes about being lesbian or gay

"....homosexuality has historically been organised in 3 basic patterns: one is a construction based on class/age differences as with the ancient Greeks, and many Asian, African and Middle Eastern cultures. The second is a construction based on gender differences as in Latin America, Western Europe and North America before the 1950s. The third and most modern category is the egalitarian one, based on a perceived equality between partners, as in post-1960 North America and Western Europe."

Daniel Boa, The Construction of Homosexuality in Buenos Aries, Argentina, 1900-1950, Journal of Homosexuality, Vol 24, Nos 3/4, 1993, p 186.

"The birth order allocation of contrasting genders is one of the strongest evidences we have against genetic-endocrine theories of sexual orientation. If sexuality can be allocated by birth order, what need is there to propose a gene for homosexuality?"

Mildred Dickensen, Reproductive Strategies and Gender Construction: An Evolutionary View of Homosexuality, Journal of Homosexuality, Vol 24, Nos 3/4, 1993, p 60.

"In addition, I am convinced that the erotic attraction of human males for each other is biologically inherent, and therefore, a product of evolution."

John Lauritsen, Political-Economic Construction of Gay Male Clone Identity, Journal of Homosexuality, Vol 24, Nos 3/4, 1993, p 225

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From Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW. © 2006. All rights reserved.