All about being gay

Think you might be gay? Find out what being gay, or same-sex attracted, means. If you’re struggling with your sexuality, find out what you can do about it, and where you can go for help.

This can help if:

  • you’re attracted to someone of the same sex

  • you’ve had a same-sex sexual experience

  • you want to know what it means to be gay.

Lesbian couple hugging

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 their own gender. Some women who are gay call themselves ‘lesbians’. People who are sexually attracted to two or more gender often describe themselves as ‘bi’/‘bisexual’, or 'pan'/'pansexual'.

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’s not possible to force someone to change their sexuality through any psychological or medical means.

Lots of people identify themselves as same-sex attracted – in fact, about one in ten. You’re not the only one. Welcome!

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.

Putting a name to your feelings

Often it takes a while to begin thinking of yourself as gay, lesbian or bisexual, or another sexual identity. Many people don’t begin to discover their sexuality until much later into adulthood and it can be just as confusing then. So, relax, take your time and don’t rush it.

A few experiences or feelings don’t mean you’re gay

Many people, gay or straight, develop crushes on a favourite teacher or a friend’s older sibling. Your closest relationship might be your best friend. It doesn’t mean you’re gay. Similarly, when exploring your sexuality, an experience with someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual. Sometimes it’s not always clear who you’re attracted to sexually and who you’re just attracted to as a person.

You don’t have to label yourself as gay

Some people prefer not to label themselves, and for many people their sexual preference and identification changes over time. 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.

Check out other people's experiences in the Online Community - 'I've been questioning my sexuality for years. At first I thought I might be bi, but now I'm thinking I could be lesbian?? I never find guys hot or attractive however I've only ever had crushes on guys.'

Dealing with bullying or discrimination

Some people have difficulty accepting others who are different, whether it’s because of their race, sex, sexuality, religion… the list goes on.

It’s not you, it’s them

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

Don’t hang around abusive people

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 with you.

If you’re struggling with your sexuality

If you’re having a tough time coming to terms with your sexuality, you have options.

Get support

If you feel comfortable, try talking to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. If you don’t want to talk about it with someone you know, contact a support service or helpline where you can remain anonymous.

You don’t have to come out

If you think you’re gay, it’s completely okay not to want to come out. If you’re interested, learn more about coming out, what it means and why people do it. There’s no rush with these things, so take your time. Don’t feel pressured to figure out your sexuality straight away or to put a label on it.

Learn about other people’s experiences

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

What can I do now?

  • Learn what to do if you're feeling anxious about your sexuality.

  • Try the ReachOut NextStep tool to get personalised support options for exploring your sexuality.