Sexuality, similar to gender identity, is generally understood to be an innate characteristic of a person. It includes who you’re attracted to physically, romantically, and emotionally. You might be familiar with terms like heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and others.
The prevailing consensus among the psychological and psychiatric communities, including organizations like the American Psychological Association (APA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation are not only ineffective, but they can also be harmful.
There are, however, ways to explore and understand your sexuality:
- Self-Reflection: Give yourself the space and time to understand your feelings. This can be through personal reflection, writing in a journal, or mindfulness meditation.
- Education: Learn more about different sexual orientations and identities. Understanding the spectrum of identities can help you identify where you might fit.
- Professional Support: Speaking with a mental health professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor who is knowledgeable about LGBTQ+ issues can be very helpful. They can guide you through the process of understanding your sexual orientation in a safe and supportive environment.
- Community Support: Connecting with LGBTQ+ communities, both online and offline, can provide a sense of belonging, make you feel understood, and help you explore your feelings.
Remember, it’s okay not to have all the answers right away. Sexuality can be fluid for some people, and it’s okay if your understanding of your own sexuality changes over time. The most important thing is that you understand and accept yourself for who you are. It’s always advisable to discuss these feelings with a supportive mental health professional if you’re feeling confused or distressed.