Understanding LGBTQ. What a mouthful. “Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer.” That isn’t even the half of it. We as a society, don’t understand it. Even the people who study it and teach it. There is so much to learn and continually learn. Millions of people identify under these terms. But what do they even mean? Well we are here to educate you so that you can teach others. “Spread The Word” comes to mind. We need to do that as much as we can. We will teach you so you can pass it on to your students, children, family and friends.
So Understanding LGBTQ . We will teach you term by term. These are terms by which people identify as and are unable to identify as such a simple term. People should be able to identify as who they/what they are. We need to understand that. Please read and fallow as best you can.
Remember that roughly 10% of the world’s population are LGBTQ.
Things That Don’t Mean You’re Gay or Lesbian.
There are several different ways of thinking about what makes a person gay. Some people will argue that one’s sexuality is determined only by who you sleep with, while others argue that sexuality is about one’s innate preference for one gender or another. Still, others believe that sexuality is a construct that is more or less forced on people through socialization. Whatever you believe, it’s helpful to be clear on definitions, which are pretty much uncontested:
Heterosexual (Straight): Being heterosexual means that you are sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex and you don’t have sexual or romantic feelings for the same sex.
Bisexual (Bi): Being bisexual means you are romantically and/or sexually attracted to more than one gender.
Bi-curious: Being curious about both genders and/or not having enough experience to determine what sexuality you are
Homosexual (Gay): Being homosexual means that you are sexually attracted to members of the same sex and you don’t have sexual or romantic feelings for the opposite sex.
Pansexual: Being pansexual means you are attracted to all genders. Pansexuals are attracted to men, women, and those outside of the gender binary. Some pansexuals are “gender blind” or attracted to people regardless of what their sex or gender is, while others are attracted to all genders but may have a preference towards certain genders (ex: a pansexual who likes men most, but is attracted to people of other genders too).
Asexual (Ace): Being asexual means you have no sexual attraction for either sex.
These are the most common identifying genders.
Figuring Out If You Are Gay and understanding it.
Think about your past romantic experiences with the other sex. How did you feel when a person of the opposite sex kissed you? Did you ever fantasize sexually about members of the opposite sex? Did you ever have crushes on a person of the opposite sex? If your past romantic history involved sexual or romantic encounters with the opposite sex, encounters that still leave you sexually excited, there’s a good chance that you are straight, or possibly bi.
Think about romantic experiences or fantasies with the same sex. Were there people you were afraid to admit you had a crush on? Did you ever fantasize sexually about a member of the same sex? Did you find yourself consistently not attracted to the sex you thought you were supposed to be attracted to? If your romantic experiences with or fantasies about the same sex still leave you sexually excited, there’s a good chance that you are either gay or bi.
Examine your recent behavior with your friends and acquaintances. When you really look at it, can you detect any lingering romantic or sexual feelings about friends or acquaintances who happen to be members of the same sex? Remember that, while a sexual fantasy does not automatically make you gay, consistent fantasies about members of the same sex do mean something.
Females: has there ever been a close friend you felt extra possessive of? One that you wanted to be your “best friend forever,” someone who you were jealous of if she had a boyfriend? Do you find that the idea of a naked female gets you excited, not the abstract sense (“Oh, she’s pretty.”) but in a very real sense (“Wow. I want that”)?
Males: do you try to tackle the guard during every practice, just so that you can be close to him? Are you more than passingly interested in him? Do you try to get a look at his body in the locker room, getting excited about him taking off his shirt?
Examine who gets you aroused. We’re talking about sexual arousal here. Try to obliterate any preconceived notions of who you’re supposed to be sexually attracted to. Picture a naked woman, and then a naked man. Which sex gets you more sexually aroused, if any?
Being Proud Of and Comfortable With Being Gay. Remember that you are not alone. If you are gay, know that there are many, many gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight people all over the world who have been in your situation. The doubt. The nagging guilt. The uncertainty. They’ve all been through it. Try not to think of your new sexual revelation as a burden; instead, think of it as a liberation. There is nothing wrong with being gay. You are not any less of a person for being who you are.
Find people who are supportive of your questioning and who won’t respond judgmentally, or worse, report you to local authorities, church leaders, or your parents. Talking to friends and family members is something you can worry about later when you’re more confident about who you are.
Know that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, transgender or anything in-between is okay. No one should make you feel bad about who you are inside. If your friends are your true friends, they will love you no matter what. If your parents love you, they will respect you for who you are, no matter what.
Realize that the people attacking you probably have problems of their own. These people are usually the type who take out their anger on other people, perhaps because they are confused themselves. The people who may lash out at you do so because they are unhappy with themselves.
Realize that there are many different paths to discovering your sexuality. Some people know that they’re gay from a very early age; others take time to discover their true nature, perhaps even realizing it only in later life. There is no statute of limitation on unwrapping your feelings and tendencies. If you feel a certain way, then you feel a certain way. Try to be grateful that you found out at all — some people wrestle with it their entire lives, never admitting that they could possibly be gay.
Understand that narratives abound about why one develops a particular sexual orientation. This does not necessarily make it true, or even testable. Freudians have argued in the past that homosexuality is the result of “a distant father and overbearing mother” or the result of being stuck in the “anal stage of development.” These hypotheses, while certainly interesting, have little grounding in fact or science, and have fallen into disuse by mainstream psychology.
Understand that sexuality is considered by some to be a very complex issue. It’s important not to let outside pressure exclusively determine your sexual identity. There are many shades of grey when it comes to sexuality; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
There is room for every degree of sexuality: some will be exclusively straight or gay, and never consider having sex outside their normal orientation. Some lesbians occasionally seek out male partners, and some gay men seek out female partners.
There are many degrees of sexual orientation, and if you find you don’t fit easily into one category, perhaps you are bisexual. Don’t allow yourself to be labelled until or unless you are ready and willing to be.
Regardless of preference to one gender or another, you have the right to be sexually “different”. Our society puts a lot of emphasis on heteronormative sex – male dominance, female submission. Don’t let this tie down your sexual orientation. There are lots straight men who are more submissive and lots of women who are more dominant sexually.
Don’t attempt to undermine anyone’s realization or fulfillment of their sexuality. Respect the privacy of individuals you know who may be wary about coming out. Coming to terms with one’s sexual orientation is difficult and complicated enough. Don’t make it harder on people trying to come to terms with it themselves.
Don’t look at the finding of your sexuality as a “struggle,” because struggle implies a fight against something or yourself. Rather, see it as a journey of discovery, and consider seeking safe spaces where you can discuss your questions openly and meet others who are going through a similar process. Even if you don’t identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, you can use this as a starting point to help the gay rights movement or just meet new people.
Keep in mind that sexuality is fluid and so are identities. Some people after coming out as gay or lesbian start acting or dressing what is perceived by other “as more gay”. This happens because the person may want to fit the label more precisely and that is not a bad thing but labeling that behavior as fake or untrue is hurtful to that person. If your friends start accusing you of “acting more gay than before” ignore them. Be proud of who you are and be free to be whoever you want to be without anyone telling how you should act or dress or talk or walk!
Remember that you can be attracted to multiple persons and you can fall emotionally and/or sexually for almost anyone. There are people who believe that they are born with their sexual preferences and there are those who don`t. But each identity is a constructed one and there is nothing wrong with that. Feeling attraction to the same sex can make you feel confused about your sexual identity because you might be trying to fit in with the society`s expectations to define yourself. You can identify as gay, lesbian, straight, queer, bisexual. But it is also okay if you don`t want to label yourself.
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. That is easier said than done but the bottom line is to be true to yourself. Some people fall only for the persons of the opposite sex, some fall only for the persons of the same sex, some can fall for both. Don`t feel pressure to label yourself especially if you feel that none of the labels really fit you. Be free to explore yourself and love and sex.
Be yourself, and ignore people who try to bring you down for being homosexual.
An educator once said “A therapist’s job is to help you find out what you think, if they tell you what they think you are, then they aren’t a good therapist.”
Just because someone is attracted to some people of a particular gender, doesn’t mean they’re attracted to everyone of that gender, and not everyone of a particular sexual orientation is going to be attracted to you. Most people in most everyday circumstances are being friendly or professional, not sexual.
Don’t worry if people judge you because you are a gay. Don’t listen to them. Remember some of the people around you are gays. So don’t worry because you are the only gay person around. Don’t care what other people think, be yourself.
If you’re uncertain or fearful about what it would be like to be a member of a sexual minority, the best way to deal with that is to meet people who are in that minority. You’ll probably find that most of them seem about as normal as anyone else.
Be proud of yourself , do not let anybody put you down . If they can not accept you for who you are then you don’t need to be around them always. Keep your heart and mind open you never know what’s around the corner.
Just because people who are conventionally sexy don’t turn you on doesn’t mean you do not like that gender. Maybe you prefer a skinny build to an athletic build, or small-breasted women? Try imagining doing sexual things with people of the same or opposite sex (not necessarily someone you actually know). Ask yourself what you find attractive, and what turns you on.
Remember that there’s nothing that qualifies you or anything else for a particular sexual orientation other than being attracted to people of a certain gender. Also remember that Pride parades are not necessarily representative of everyday life for most gay people, any more than a Halloween party is representative of life for people in general. Also realize it’s ok to be straight and enjoy pride parades or any other combination. Your value as a human being is not determined by your sexual orientation or fashion sensibilities.
If you don’t want to, you don’t have to label yourself at all. You like who you like, and leave it at that. You can tell people that, and it’s polite for them not to read too much into it. It may help to think of sexual orientation as a spectrum, or to think of yourself as loving people, not just their gender.
Many people may judge you or try to; don’t take notice of them because all they are doing is trying to bring you down and if they cannot accept that your gay or lesbian or bi then don’t associate yourself with them. Rather try to be around people who accept you for who you are and don’t have a problem with who you want to be.
Don’t let anyone force you to label yourself. If you do, remember that no one has the right to question your proclaimed identity: you have the right to label yourself anything you want, just as you have every right on this goddamn earth to love whoever you want and to have sex with whoever you want. Regardless of what your parents, your preacher, your queer friends or your straight friends might tell you. Be whoever you feel like being. And if you change your mind about who you are along the way- don`t feel guilty for a second. You don`t owe it to anyone to justify your life or your choices.
Do not hide from your potentially negative feelings about your sexual orientation in drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse will only make accepting yourself more difficult than it may already be. This will only further compound your problems, leading you into becoming a nervous wreck.
Practice safe sex at all times; same-sex sexual activities can lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) just like opposite-sex encounters can.
Choose your friends wisely; you don’t have to befriend other gay people simply because you have just discovered that you are gay yourself. On the other hand, having gay friends can provide you with a support network of people who are going through similar experiences as you. Seek out caring, supportive, levelheaded people within the community who share your interests.
Do not shut out the straight world or your straight friends. Sexual orientation is an integral part of who you are, yet you should keep a diversity of friends and associates in your life.
The conflicting and confusing emotions that may accompany the realization that you are gay can make it difficult to act rationally when presented with your first same sex experience. Take care of yourself, and try to not be intoxicated when you are exploring your sexuality.
What is Trans/gender?
Trans is an umbrella term used to describe people with a gender identity and /or gender expression different to their sex assigned at birth. It may be used to encompass many identities that are outside of a cisgender identity.
Cisgender is a term to describe a person whose gender identity and/or expression is the same as their birth sex. i.e. Someone who is identified as male at birth and grows up to identify as a man.
The term Trans is inclusive of the Trans umbrella, but not limited to, identities such as:
- Male-to-female (MtF)
- Female-to-male (FtM)
Trans is used to describe many kinds of gender identities that fall within the vast experience of human nature.
Gender identity is the person’s feeling of being male, female, both, a mixture, or neither, which is shown to other people through gender expression (clothes, hairstyles, mannerisms, etc.). It is separate and independent from sexual orientation. Trans people can be lesbian, gay, bi, straight, pansexual, etc.
How do I know I might be Trans?
There is no single ‘right’ way for a person to figure out that they are Trans. However, certain things may indicate a Trans identity.
- When you don’t feel comfortable when being referred to as a boy/girl, or man/woman.
- When a wrong pronoun is used to describe you, it may also trigger discomfort.
- Some may feel that their body is not in line with their deeply felt sense of self. The way their body looks on the outside may not match with who they feel they are on the inside.
- The development of sex characteristics (such as breasts, facial hair, etc) during puberty can be a particularly traumatic experience for some Trans youth. This may result in a heightened level of body image issues. Gender dysphoria is a term to describe this discomfort.
If I am not sure, what do I do?
- Become part of a Trans peer group such as Individuality. If this does not exist in your area, consider attending an LGBT youth group.
- Write and/or talk about how you are feeling in a journal or with someone you trust. If you are to talk to someone, it is important to choose the right person, and ideally someone who understands Trans issues.
- Find more about being Trans on the internet at sites such as teni.ie, etc.
- Meet with a counsellor at your school, college or university, or with an adult you trust.
- Talk to your GP or other medical professional about how you are feeling.
I think I am Trans, what now?
- Express your gender identity in a way that feels right for you. Small steps in doing this can make a big difference.
- Try out a different name and/or different pronoun (he, she, or gender-neutral pronouns like ze/they) when you refer to yourself in a diary, journal or social media.
- It is important to remember that you are entitled to use whatever name and pronoun you feel comfortable with.
- It is perfectly okay to have whatever gender identity that you feel comfortable with and only you can decide what that is.
- Your gender identity is one part of who you are, and regardless how you identify, it is not the only thing that defines you.
- Talking to others that have been through the same or similar situation can be really helpful.
Coming Out (expressing who you are)
- Coming out is when you tell people that you are Trans.
- Be sure that you are coming out at your own pace and that you are not rushing into situations where you are not comfortable.
- At first, think about telling someone that you trust. You may have to educate them on Trans issues, so be prepared for some questions and only answer the ones you are comfortable with.
- Ask people to refer to you by the name and pronoun you feel most comfortable with. Be aware that people may make mistakes with this, as it may take time for those around you to get used to your name and pronoun.
- If you don’t initially receive a positive response, don’t panic – it can take time for people to digest what you have told them. If this happens, consider getting support for yourself.
- The term Transitioning refers to the process through which Trans people achieves the appearance, gender expression and self- image they feel is right for them.
- Some people may change their names (officially through a deed poll, or socially), pronouns, style of dress etc. as a means to express their gender identity. Others may feel that a medical Transition (e.g. hormone replacement therapy, surgery, etc.) is the right route for them. Take the steps that you are most comfortable with.
- As you take the steps towards Transitioning, either physically, socially and/or emotionally it can help to get support from others, such as a health professional that is knowledgeable on Trans issues, friends, family members and trusted adult or other Trans people. Ultimately, you should do what feels right for you and take as much time to decide as you need.
- You are able to change some legal documents like your passport and drivers’ licenses when you officially change your name through deed poll.
I think my child/family member/friend is Trans.
If you think someone you know is struggling with their gender identity or might be Trans the best thing to do is make sure they know that you love and support them. Coming to terms with your gender identity can be a difficult journey as there is so much social stigma. As parents, family members or friends it’s important to listen and try not to make assumptions – create a space where that person can be honest and open about their gender.
- Many Trans people are scared that if they come out they might be rejected. Tell them that you love them no matter what and that you support them to be true to themselves.
- Educate yourself on Trans issues. There are great books or resources on the internet that will help you understand the issues.
- Don’t be afraid to raise the topic but be gentle. Putting pressure on someone to come out can cause anxiety and stress. The person needs to move at their own pace but knowing that you are Trans/LGB friendly can make them feel safer and more confident to raise.
The issues when they’re ready.
- If you see they are very distressed let them know you’re open to talking about anything with them.
- Ask if there is someone else that they would like to talk to, perhaps suggesting they speak to a professional who is aware of Trans identity.
- Don’t be afraid to get your own support. This can be a challenging time for your family and speaking to other people who have gone through or are going through the same process can be helpful.
My child/sibling/friend came out as Trans. What should I do?
When someone comes out as Trans it can be difficult for family or friends to understand. You might wonder what you did or why this happened. Some people feel guilt, shame or fear. Just remember that it takes great courage to be honest about this experience and that there is nothing wrong with being Trans. Respect the persons feelings about their gender identity above all else. Things you could do include:
- Recognise that this is not something that could have been
changed, and that gender identity is hard wired from birth.
- Show your support and let them know your relationship
- Respect their name and pronoun they wish to be addressed by. If you make a mistake, apologise and correct yourself.
- Accept them and what they are telling you. It is likely that they have taken some time to talk to you about this and need your understanding.
- Get in contact with support services that can give you support and
- Find out more and educate yourself on Trans issues.
- Find appropriate supports for your child etc. if that is what they want.