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Sexuality covers a broad spectrum, and is also deeply personal. It’s about understanding the sexual feelings and attractions we feel towards others, not who we happen to 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.
Aerial close up of 2 girls holding hands

Understanding sexuality

Everyone’s sexuality is different, and it’s not necessarily as simple as being ‘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.

Your sexuality can be confusing

Don’t worry if you aren’t sure about your sexuality. Being young is a time for figuring out what works for you. Exploring and managing strong feelings is often part of the experience. In time, you’ll find that you’re drawn mostly to men or to women, or to both, or to neither. In the meantime, try to relax about it.

Types of sexuality

People use a few common labels to identify their sexuality. Your sexuality isn’t defined by who you have sex with – it’s about how you feel and how you choose to identify yourself. The important thing is that you choose what label feels comfortable, or you choose no label at all. You might find, like many others have, that the label you choose changes over time.

Straight/Heterosexual

Attracted mostly to people of the opposite sex or gender.

Gay/Homosexual

Attracted mostly to people of the same sex or gender (refers to guys – and often to girls, too).

Lesbian

Attracted mostly to people of the same sex or gender (refers to women).

Bisexual

Attracted to both men and women.

Pansexual

Attracted to romantic and sexual partners of any gender, sex or sexual identity. (‘Pan’ means ‘all’.)

Polysexual

Attracted to romantic and sexual partners of many but not all genders, sexes or sexual identities. (‘Poly’ means ‘many’.)

Asexual

Not really sexually attracted to anyone.

Some people also choose the labels ‘queer’ or ‘fluid’ as a way of expressing themselves by their own personal feelings.

Dealing with people who don’t like your sexuality

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

If you need help

It’s never okay for someone to harass you or make you feel bad about your sexuality. You never have to deal with this kind of treatment from others on your own. There are a number of services that can offer you support if you’re being harassed or bullied based on your sexuality.

Hear about other LGBTQI young people’s experiences

Watch this four-minute video from QLife Australia.

What can I do now?

  • Get personalised support options for any issues regarding your sexuality with the ReachOut NextStep tool.
  • Find out about being attracted to the same sex.
  • Talk to someone you trust if you’re struggling with your sexuality.