Am I gay, lesbian or bisexual?

It's normal to feel attracted to both girls and boys when you're growing up. Find out about coming out, safer sex and how to deal with bullying if it happens to you.

During puberty, you have lots of emotions and sexual feelings. It’s normal for girls to think about girls in a sexual way, and for boys to think about boys in a sexual way.

Some people realise that they prefer people of the opposite sex, while others feel that they prefer people of the same sex. Some people realise that they're gay later in life, and some know it from an early age.

You don’t choose your sexuality, it chooses you. No one knows what makes people gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight. If you’re attracted to people of the same sex, this is normal and you deserve to be with someone you love.

What if I'm gay, lesbian or bisexual?

It can help to talk to other people who are going through the same thing. Find out if there's a young men’s or women’s group in your area for lesbian, gay or bisexual people. These groups might be advertised in the phone book, at GP surgeries, sexual health or contraceptive clinics, pharmacies, youth groups, local papers or on the internet.

Find sexual health services, including contraceptive clinics, near you.

Should I tell anyone I think I'm gay?

This is up to you. Being gay, lesbian or bisexual is normal, but some people don’t understand this. Telling people that you're gay, lesbian or bisexual is known as 'coming out'. You can read about coming out, and find out about the things to consider before you decide whether to tell people.

What about sex if I'm gay?

We all have the same feelings and anxieties about sex, whether we’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight. Deciding when you’re ready to have sex is a big step, whoever your potential partner might be.

It’s a huge decision, but only you can make it. Although there's a legal age of consent, that’s not necessarily the right age for you to start having sex. There are no rules about how long you have to be going out with someone before you do it.

Everyone is ready at different times, but don't have sex just because your mates or your boyfriend or girlfriend are pressuring you. Find out about dealing with peer pressure and why it's OK to say no.

You can also read 'Are you ready for sex?' to find out 10 things to ask yourself if you're thinking about having sex.

If you think the time is right, talk to your partner about needing to use contraception, having safer sex, picking the right time, and how you would both like the experience to be.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can pass from girls to girls and boys to boys, as well as between girls and boys. 

Pregnancy and STIs with someone of the same sex

If you’re having sex with someone of the same sex, there's no risk of pregnancy, but you can still get or pass on STIs. Boys should always wear a condom if they have oral or anal sex. Girls should use a dam (a square of very thin, soft plastic) over their genitals during oral sex. If you're using sex toys, cover them with a condom and use a new condom for each partner.

Make sure that you know about all the methods of contraception, whether you have sex with males or females, in case you also have straight sex. It’s better to be prepared with contraception than to put yourself at risk. Always use condoms to prevent STIs.

How to get free condoms

You can get free condoms from a sexual health, community contraceptive or young persons clinic and some GPs, even if you're under 16. Find your nearest clinic.

You can also buy condoms from pharmacies and supermarkets. Remember, only use condoms with the CE mark. This means that they've been tested to high European safety standards. Condoms without the CE mark aren't safe, so don’t use them.

How to cope if you're bullied for being gay

Some people don’t understand that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is normal. Nobody has the right to tell someone else how to live their life, or to pick on them because of who they’re attracted to. If someone bullies you because you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, it’s their problem, not yours, and they shouldn’t get away with it. This is called homophobic bullying.

Bullying can take many forms, including stares, looks, whispers, threats and violence. If you’re being bullied because you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, tell someone you trust. This could be a teacher, friend, your parents or a helpline.

Schools have a legal duty to ensure that homophobic bullying is dealt with. For advice, read Where to find help if you’ve been bullied. You’ll find information about talking to teachers and parents, and the contact details of anti-bullying organisations and helplines.

You can find out more about dealing with homophobic bullying on these websites: 

EACH (Educational Action Challenging Homophobia)
This is a charity for young people and adults affected by homophobia. It has a helpline for young people, and for parents or teachers who want to report homophobic bullying. Call Actionline for free on 0808 1000 143 on weekdays, 10am-4pm.

Stonewall: Education for All
Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for equal rights for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people. Its Education for All campaign tackles homophobia and homophobic bullying in schools across the UK. On the website, you can find case studies, facts and figures about homophobic bullying in schools, and advice for young people and teachers.

Talking to someone who is understanding will always help if you have worries or questions because you'll feel supported and more confident.

Page last reviewed: 23/09/2013

Next review due: 23/09/2015

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The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

thatWeasel said on 04 May 2014

This page needs to be updated to include information on the asexual spectrum as well as explaining the difference between romantic attraction/orientation and sexual attraction/orientation, and those topics need to get more coverage in general.

I felt very abnormal growing up as a demisexual ~ and only began finding information on asexuality and other such topics very recently. This needs to become mainstream knowledge.

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GoodGuy said on 04 December 2011

In answer to the 28 May 2011 comment - it is perfectly normal to be gay or bi. Your comment about "Until over half the world ..." seems to indicate you think of 'normal' as a percentage thing. If that were so then green-eyed people would be abnormal. They figure around 3%. (A percentage less than youngsters who are gay 5%, or bi [Kinsey 3] 10%). So since green-eyed people are normal you'll have to think again about what the word 'normal' means. I don't think you would call left-handers abnormal either. (It's also normal to be Taiwanese, less than 1% of world population!!)

In answer to the 06 July 2011 - the advice and assertions on this page are good. 'Deserving' does not imply that you succeed in finding love, only that you deserve it. Think of it like this - in a democratic country you deserve to vote. It doesn't mean you have to, it doesn't mean you want to. But it does mean you have the right to.

The only thing I disagree with on this page is the photograph. Gay people are often concerned about being 'faceless' in the media. And this of all places seems to be an example of it. (just showing the backs of two people's heads)

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BrightonGal28 said on 06 July 2011

I am not really sure what is meant by the expression of being 'deserving' to be with someone you love. In the real world you simply cannot meet this standard as you have to find someone who agrees you are worthy to be with. The narrative in this articel implies you have some sort of right to be with a partner. This is not always possible or even desireable. Many people, gay or straight, are on their own.

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Beetweet said on 28 May 2011

When I realised I was attracted to someone of my own sex I have nver considered this "normal" as stated in this article. Normal isusually considered to be the norm, the usual, average or typical and being gay is none of this. It is an alternative, even extra-ordinary but it has never felt normal to society in general. Until over half the world is gay then being gay is never going to be normal it will always be different.

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