I'm attracted to the same-sex

Think you might be gay? Find out what being same-sex attracted means. Learn more about why some people are gay, and get the facts about whether it’s naturalOnly you can know your own sexual preference, and if people harass you for being gay, or you’re struggling with your sexuality, you can do something about it.

This can help if:

  • You’re attracted to someone of the same sex
  • You had a same-sex sexual experience
  • You want to know what it means to be gay

girls holding hands

What does it all mean?

People usually describe themselves as gay or homosexual when they find themselves emotionally and sexually attracted exclusively to people of the same sex. Many women who are attracted to other women also choose to use the word lesbian to describe themselves. 

When people call themselves gay there’s usually a strong sexual and emotional feeling towards people of the same sex, which they don’t feel towards the opposite sex. People who have strong emotional and sexual feelings to more than one sex often describe themselves as bisexual.

Why are people same-sex attracted?

Whether it’s genetics, the environment we’re raised in, or a combination of different things, it doesn’t really matter why someone is attracted to people. It matters more that we all have the ability to feel comfortable and safe being ourselves and trusting our feelings. 

Is it natural to be same-sex attracted?

Yes, absolutely. The Australian Psychological Society states that being same-sex attracted is as natural as being opposite-sex attracted and that it is not possible to force someone to change their sexuality through any psychological or medical means. Difference and diversity is part of being alive, and not just for people - plenty of animals have diverse sexual preferences.  There is a huge amount of people who identify themselves as same-sex attracted – about one in ten people! You are not the only one.

I think I might be gay or bisexual – how do I know?

Some people who are same-sex attracted say that from the time they were very young they “felt different”. Some even remember having crushes on friends of their own sex when they were little. Often it takes a while to put a name to their feelings – to begin thinking of themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual or similar kinds of identities. There are also many people who don’t begin to discover their sexuality until much later into adulthood and it can be just as confusing then. 

Many people, gay or straight, develop admiration for someone of the same sex like a great teacher or a friend’s older sibling. Your closest relationship might be your best friend of the same sex. But none of this means that you’re gay.  Similarly, when you’re exploring your sexuality, one or two sexual experiences with someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual. It’s not always clear from the beginning who you’re sexually attracted to and who you’re just attracted to as a person.

You don’t have to label yourself today or ever. For many people their sexual identification changes over time too. There are a number of other labels people choose for their sexual identity too, such as queer or pansexual, and you may find that one of these other labels feels more comfortable to you.

Dealing with bullying or discrimination

Some people have difficulty accepting people who are different, whether it’s because of their race, sex, sexuality, religion… the list goes on. They might discriminate, bully people, or even become violent. No matter the reason, you don’t have to take it, and you don’t have to deal with it alone. 

If you’re being harassed, judged or made to feel bad about yourself by someone else because of your sexuality, remember that there is nothing wrong with you, and that their ignorance and intolerance are the problem. 

If you’re struggling with your sexuality

There are some steps that you can take if you’re struggling with your sexuality:

  • Get support if you’re finding it hard to cope. If you feel comfortable, try talking to someone you trust about it.
  • Don’t hang around if someone’s attitude towards you is abusive – leave as soon as possible and talk to someone you trust who is supportive about what’s going on. 
  • If you think you’re gay, it’s completely okay to not want to come out. If you are interested in reading more about it, check out our fact sheet on coming out.
  • There is no rush with these things. Take your time. Don’t feel pressured to figure out your sexuality straight away or to put a label on it. 

If you don’t want to talk to someone you know about what you’re going through, try contacting a support service or helpline where you’ll be able to get support from someone who can help you with what you’re going through.

Watch this video made by Qlife Australia and from other people talk about their experiences being attracted to the same sex and coming out.

What can I do now?

  • Read about sexuality.
  • If you are struggling with your sexuality, discuss it with someone you trust if you feel ready to do so.
  • Check out one person's story of coming to terms with being gay.

Last reviewed: 04 May, 2016
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