What is sexuality

By  ReachOut     |    Updated: 26th April, 2017    |    5 min read

Sexuality is diverse, and deeply personal. Understanding our sexuality is about the sexual feelings and attractions we feel towards other people, not about who we have sex with. There are different types of sexuality, and it can take time to figure out what fits right with you. If someone is giving you a hard time about your sexuality, find out what to do and who you can talk to.

 This can help if:
  • You want to know what sexuality is
  • You want to learn about the different types of sexuality
  • You want to better understand your own or other people’s sexuality

 Understanding sexuality

Everyone’s sexuality is different, and it’s not necessarily as simple as ‘gay’ or ‘straight’. Some people are attracted to only one sex, and others are attracted to a diversity of people regardless of sex or gender, with a lot of different preferences in between. Some gay, lesbian or bisexual people say from an early age that they “felt different”, and had crushes on friends of people of the same sex, only associating these feelings with being gay or bisexual later on. Many people don’t discover their sexual attractions until much later into adulthood and it can be just as confusing then.

Sexuality can be confusing. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure. Being young is a time of figuring out what works for you and strong feelings and exploration are often part of that. In time, you’ll find that you’re drawn mostly to men or to women or to both or to neither, and you’ll know then.

Types of sexuality

There are a few common labels people use to identify their sexuality. Your sexuality is not defined by who you have sex with – it’s about how you feel and how you choose to identity yourself.

  • Straight. Attracted mostly to people of the opposite sex or gender.
  • Gay. Attracted mostly to people of the same sex or gender (used by guys, and often girls too).
  • Lesbian. Attracted mostly to people of the same sex or gender (used by women).
  • Bisexual. Attracted to both men and women. Some people use terms like pan or pansexual to say they’re attracted to different kinds of people, regardless of their gender.
  • Asexual. Not really sexually attracted to anyone.

What you call yourself is up to you – some people choose labels like queer, pansexual, fluid – whatever. The important thing is that you choose what feels comfortable.

You don’t have to label yourself today or ever. For many people this might change over time too. .

Dealing with people who don’t like your sexuality

Some people in society have difficulty accepting people who are different, whether it’s because of their race, their sex, their sexuality, their religion… the list goes on. They might discriminate against people, bully them, or even sometimes be violent. No matter the reason behind it, it should not be tolerated, and you don’t need to deal with it by yourself. There’s a bunch of people who can help you figure out how to respond.

For all of us, it‘s important to recognise that we are all different, and the things that are right for us are different to the things that are right for someone else. We should be respectful and positive about people’s sexuality or sexual relationships, and support their right to explore their sexuality in a safe, consensual and responsible way.

In just the same way, we should understand that everyone has the right to make decisions about their sex or gender identity to suit the way that they feel inside. It is ok to have an identity that is different to what we were told to expect. Diversity of sexuality, sex and gender is a natural and normal part of the human experience, and a valuable part of who we are.

If you want to hear about other LGBTQI young peoples experiences, watch this 4 minute video made by Qlife Australia.

Talking to someone about sexuality

There are people in every state and territory in Australia that you can talk to about questions, experiences or concerns with sexuality or gender, or for support or help. Find out about what kind of help you can access.It can be hard to know where to find the right support you need. ReachOut NextStep is an anonymous online tool that recommends relevant support options based on what you want help with. Try the ReachOut NextStep tool to learn about the support options available for you.

What can I do now?

  • Take time to figure out what works for you.
  • Get personalised support options for sexuality with the ReachOut NextStep tool.
  • Find out about being attracted to the same-sex.
  • Talk to someone if you’re struggling.

Also check the related topics:  

Sexuality Sex

Factsheet provided by ReachOut


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