Identifying your orientation might be challenging.
It might be challenging to sit back and consider if you are homosexual, straight, or anything else in a world where most of us are expected to be straight.
The only person who can determine your true orientation is you.
It's not a guarantee that you're gay if you have sex dreams about someone who is the same gender as you.
It's not a guarantee that you're straight if you have a sex fantasy about a trans person but you can find out your sexual orientation by gay test.
It all started with a sex dream — does this mean what I think it means?
Many of us grow up to assume that we’re straight only to find out, later, that we’re not.
Sometimes, we realize this because we have sex dreams, sexual thoughts, or feelings of intense attraction toward people of the same gender as us.
However, none of those things — sex dreams, sexual thoughts, or even feelings of intense attraction — necessarily “prove” your orientation.
There are a few different forms of attraction. When it comes to orientation, we usually refer to romantic attraction (who you have strong romantic feelings for and desire a romantic relationship with) and sexual attraction (who you want to engage in sexual activity with).
Sometimes we’re romantically and sexually attracted to the same groups of people. Sometimes we’re not.
For example, it’s possible to be romantically attracted to men but sexually attracted to men, women, and nonbinary people. This sort of situation is called “mixed orientation” or “cross orientation” — and it’s totally OK.
Bear this in mind as you consider your sexual and romantic feelings.
Is there a quiz I can take?
If only Buzzfeed had all the answers! Unfortunately, there isn’t a test to help you figure out your sexual orientation.
And even if there were, who’s to say who qualifies as gay or straight?
Every single straight person is unique. Every single gay person is unique. Every person, of every orientation, is unique.
You don’t have to fulfill certain “criteria” to qualify as gay, straight, bisexual, or anything else.
This is an aspect of your identity, not a job application — and you can identify with whatever term fits you!
Then how am I supposed to know?
There’s no “right” way to come to terms with your orientation. However, there are a few things you can do to explore your feelings and help figure things out.
Above all else, let yourself feel your feelings. It’s hard to understand your feelings if you ignore them.
Even now, there’s a lot of shame and stigma around orientation. People who aren’t straight are often made to feel like they should repress their feelings.
Learn about the different terms for orientations. Find out what they mean, and consider whether any of them resonate with you.
Consider doing further research by reading forums, joining LGBTQIA+ support groups, and learning about these communities online. This could help you understand the terms better.
If you start identifying with a certain orientation and later feel differently about it, that’s OK. It’s all right to feel differently and for your identity to shift.
How can I ever be sure that my orientation is X?
That’s a good question. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer.
Yes, sometimes people do get their orientation “wrong.” Plenty of people thought they were one thing for the first half of their life, only to find that wasn’t true.
It’s also possible to think you’re gay when you’re actually bi, or think you’re bi when you’re actually gay, for example.
It’s totally OK to say, “Hey, I was wrong about this, and now I actually feel more comfortable identifying as X.”
Many people identify as one orientation for their entire life, while others find it changes over time. And that’s OK!
Your orientation may change, but that doesn’t make it any less valid over time, nor does it mean you’re wrong or confused.
Is there anything that ‘causes’ orientation?
Why are some people gay? Why are some people straight? We don’t know.
Some people feel they were born this way, that their orientation was always just a part of them.
Others feel their sexuality and orientation changes over time. Remember what we said about orientation being fluid?
Whether orientation is caused by nature, nurture, or a mix of the two isn’t really important. What is important is that we accept others as they are, and ourselves as we are.
What does this mean for my sexual and reproductive health?
Most sex education in schools focuses solely on heterosexual and cisgender (that is, not transgender, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary) people.
This leaves the rest of us out of it.
It’s important to know you can get sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and, in some cases, become pregnant regardless of what your sexual orientation is.
STIs can transfer between people no matter what their genitals look like.
They can transfer to and from an anus, penis, vagina, and mouth. STIs can even spread through unwashed sex toys and hands.
Pregnancy isn’t reserved for straight people, either. It can happen whenever two fertile people have penis-in-vagina sex.
So, if it’s possible for you to become pregnant — or impregnate someone — look into contraception options.
Still have questions? Check out our guide to safer sex.
You may also consider scheduling an appointment with an LGBTIQA+-friendly doctor to talk about your sexual health.
Do I have to tell people?
You don’t have to tell anyone anything that you don’t want to.
If you feel uncomfortable talking about it, that’s OK. Not disclosing your orientation doesn’t make you a liar. You don’t owe that information to anyone.
What implications can this have?
Telling people can be great, but keeping it private can be great, too. It all depends on your personal situation.
On the one hand, telling people might help you feel better. Many queer people feel relief and a sense of freedom once they come out. Being “out” can also help you find an LGBTQIA+ community that can support you.
On the other hand, coming out isn’t always safe. Homophobia — and other forms of bigotry — are alive and well. Queer people are still discriminated against at work, in their communities, and even in their families.
So, while coming out can feel freeing, it’s also OK to take things slow and move at your own pace.
How can I go about telling someone?
Sometimes, it’s best to start by telling someone who you’re sure will be accepting, such as an open-minded family member or friend. If you’d like, you could ask them to be there with you when you tell others.
If you’re not comfortable talking about it in person, you can tell them via text, phone, email, or handwritten message. Whatever you prefer.
If you want to talk to them in person but are struggling to broach the topic, perhaps start by watching an LGBTQIA+ movie or bringing up something about an openly queer celebrity. This could help you segue into the conversation.
You could end the conversation by asking for their support and directing them to a resource guide, perhaps online, if they need it.
There are many resources out there for people who want to support their queer friends and family members.
Also let them know whether you mind them sharing this news with others or not.
What should I do if it doesn’t go well?
Sometimes the people you tell don’t react the way you want them to.
They may ignore what you said or laugh it off as a joke. Some people might try to convince you that you’re straight, or say you’re just confused.
If this happens, there are a few things you can do:
Surround yourself with supportive people. Whether it’s LGBTQIA+ people you’ve met online or in person, your friends, or accepting family members, try to spend time with them and talk to them about the situation.
Remember that you’re not the one in the wrong. There’s nothing wrong with you or your orientation. The only wrong thing here is the intolerance.
If you want, give them space to improve their reaction. By this, I mean that they may have realized their initial reaction was wrong.
Send them a message to let them know you’re willing to talk when they’ve had some time to process what you said.
It’s not easy to deal with loved ones who don’t accept your orientation, but it’s important to remember that there are many people out there who love and accept you.
If you’re in an unsafe situation — for example, if you were evicted from your home or if the people you live with threaten you — try to find an LGBTQIA+ shelter in your area, or arrange to stay with a supportive friend for a while.
They provide help and support for people who are in crisis or feeling suicidal, or for people who simply need someone to talk to and vent to.
Where can I find support?
Consider joining in-person groups so you can meet people face-to-face. Join an LGBTQIA+ group at your school or college, and look for meetups for LGBTQIA+ people in your area