Same sex attraction: Information for young people

Am I the only one?

No, lots of young people like people of the same sex. In Australia, between eight and 14% of young people say they like people of the same sex.

It's up to you who you like and who you're attracted to. When two people are attracted to each other, it's okay to start a relationship, as long as you both agree and are both old enough.

For information on sex and the law, see our webpage on consent.

What's in a name? 

Since about 1960, people have been calling themselves 'gay' instead of 'homosexual'.

When guys like guys or girls like girls, people call them gay or same-sex attracted. Sometimes girls who like girls are also called lesbians.

People who like both guys and girls are also called same-sex attracted and sometimes bisexual.

Girls who feel like a guy, don't want to be a girl and are attracted to people of the same sex could be transgender. It's the same for guys. Guys who feel more like a girl, want to be a girl and are same-sex attracted are also called transgender. Some people who feel like this might want to dress or live as the opposite sex. That's okay too. It's up to them.

Some people like the word 'queer' because it's more inclusive. As long as you're happy in yourself, it doesn't matter what you call yourself or what other people call you. It can be confusing, especially thinking about how you feel. You can work out what to call yourself later, there's no rush. 

How do you know?

To know whether you're straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or transgender you have to listen to your feelings. Try to think about who you are mainly attracted to, what you really think about who you are and what you've been doing or would like to do with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

It can be hard to be honest with yourself and sometimes it's a bit scary. Just remember, lots of other young people have done it and there are people you can speak to if you need help.  

Looking after yourself

Some young people feel very alone and sad when they're working out their sexuality. If you feel like this, it really helps to meet and make friends with other same-sex attracted young people who've been through the same things.

If you don't know where to start, join a support group. Our support group for under 25s is called YAK. It meets on the first and third Fridays of the month in the city. It's a chance to meet and talk with other people like you. You can listen to the issues they're dealing with, talk about your issues or just have a chat and be yourself. It's safe, supportive and free. We can also help you find a support group closer to your area. 

You can also drop into one of our clinics to see a doctor, nurse or counsellor. Our services are safe and confidential. We can help you with:

  • your concerns about being same-sex attracted
  • pap screening
  • testing and treating sexually transmissible infections
  • relationships
  • sexual abuse
  • other sexual health issues.

Telling others

When someone first works out that they like people of the same sex, it can be confusing. Realising for the first time that these feelings are not going to go away is what some people call 'coming out'. We usually 'come out' to ourselves first, as we slowly realise we like people of the same sex more than people of the opposite sex. When we're used to these feelings, we might want to tell someone else about them.

It's totally up to you whether you tell someone. Some people do, some don't. If you think you would like to tell other people, make sure you choose people you trust. You don't have to tell people you don't feel safe around. Be careful who you choose, because once you have said it, you can't take it back and they will be able to tell others too. That's why it is really important to tell only those you trust.

Some people will be shocked or surprised, some might have already guessed, some will be okay with it, some won't. They might need some time to think about it and get used to it. There is also help and support for your parents and friends

Bullying

Working out who you are can be hard because some people are prejudiced and like to bully same-sex attracted young people. This is usually because they don't understand them and are scared of them.

Bullying same-sex attracted young people is against the law. It's called discrimination. Just as it's against the law to discriminate against people from other countries, you can't discriminate against same-sex attracted people. If this is happening to you, you don't have to put up with it. They are breaking the law.

If you're being bullied or discriminated against because of your sexuality, tell a trusted adult who can help you or talk to one of our counsellors on T/ 03 9660 4700 or T/ 1800 013 952 (freecall).

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