At adolescence, which can occur from 10 to 14, and there are no ages set in stone, young people begin to become sexual and sexually attracted to others. These changes occur due to hormonal changes in mind and body so just thinking about someone that you might find attractive can cause physical arousal. That attraction may be same sex or opposite sex and there is no harm in either. Does our sexual orientation define us a person 

New feelings and new experiences can be confusing, and even overwhelming that can also trigger guilt and shame.

Sexual Orientation For The Young 

Often times young people explore sexual activity with others of the same sex, some feel good afterwards, while others feel guilty afterwards. Some become stuck in the belief because they enjoyed the experience, that they may be gay, and become more shameful and guilt ridden, others are comfortable with the experience, knowing that they are really straight, or that they are gay. But even in the knowing, there is accepting and being accepted by others, which is what causes the main issues.

Because of social norms, young people worry about fitting in, where they may fit and with whom. This all creates isolation and loneliness.  

Do you worry about

Will I have to hide who I am.

What will my Dad think of me. 

My Dad will he still love me. 

Will I be thrown out of the house. 

My  Mum will she still love me. 

Will my Mum be disappointed. 

How will my brother feel. 

My Sister how will she react.

How will my best friend react. 

Sexual orientation

Romantic Attraction 

Young people often confuse romantic attraction, having a crush on someone, and physically attraction, sexual arousal.  Then very often they may feel a sense of isolation because their attraction. In either case, it does not fit the norm. Just because you find a boy or girl sexually attractive does not mean that you are gay. Nor does it mean you have to fall in love with them. 

So let us look at what sexual orientation means. It refers to the gender (male or female) to which a person is attracted. There are two main types of sexual orientation and a third grey area. 

  • Heterosexual males and females are called straight. They are romantically and physically attracted to members of the opposite sex: males are attracted to females, and females are attracted to males. 
  • Homosexual people or gay and lesbians are people who are romantically and physically attracted to people of the same sex: females are attracted to other females; males are attracted to other males. 
  • Bisexual people are physically attracted to members of both sexes.

I will refer to gay and lesbians from here as gay. 

Is our sexual orientation a choice?

No, No, No!

Being straight or gay, is not a choice. There are many beliefs of sexual orientation origin and in reality it does not matter because the only choice you have is to live a lie or live your truth. So many men and woman live this lie, they hide their true feelings, hide their gayness, for fear of abandonment, ridicule, isolation, or bullying. They live a lie and exist in unhappy lives, some just hide. 

Some become priests or nuns where the lack of sexual practice is the norm, a strange notion of normal, but that is their teaching, so they can hide without fear or ridicule. But you can see how that has worked out for all involved. 

Others marry, have families, live miserable lives, cause others around them to be miserable because they are living a lie, living an incongruent life. Some cannot contain the truth any longer and come out in mid life, causing turmoil to their husbands and wives and their children. Others stay living their secret and explore their true sexuality with escorts and live deception. 

If you are a boy and like boys. Then Be with boys!  If you are a girl and like girls. Then Be with girls!  There is no shame or guilt or judgement, only that in which you create within yourself. 

Moving Forward To Acceptance 

The first step you need to overcome, before sharing your feelings with others, is let go of self judgement. It’s OK to be Gay, its OK to be you. This is easier said than done and less painful and lonely if you can share with someone, perhaps in a professional capacity. Some counsellor do not charge for this kind of listening. Check out www.ThePositiveMind.ie

The other confusion that happens in young people is experimental. Which is when young people experiment with members of the same sex. This happens more than most will admit. This can be very enjoyable and pleasurable and interesting, it can occur once or several times with one partner or several. But just because you have a sexual experience with a person of the same sex does not actually mean you are gay.  It may, or it may not. It’s just experimental. 

But within this experimentation, you will know, if you are true to yourself, if this is your orientation or just enjoyable pleasure and again there is no judgement as I believe it is very healthy to experience through experimentation. ( There is a small caveat in this form of experimentation and that is, straight people who are not 100% sure about their own sexuality often become homophobic in later life as they fear their own truth will be revealed ) 

The Facts 

Statistics try to estimate how many people are gay. The number ranges between 10% and 20%. The difference in the range is created by the fact that 1/ not every gay person is out, 2/ not every person who had a same sex experience is gay and 3/ the inclusion of the new acceptable “I’m not sure” bisexual people. 

But it’s safe to say, if every person who was gay were out, the number would be large. If every straight man and woman were honest about their experiments in their younger years, the numbers would be staggering. No one fully understands exactly what determines a person's sexual orientation, but it is likely explained by a variety of biological and genetic factors. 

Nature Or Nurture 

Early childhood experiences, can lock the subconscious into a frozen moment. In other words, if a child experiences a pleasurable experience through a same sex interaction and that experience is also associated with love, caring, and belonging, they may grow up with this as their understanding of belonging and love. But this is not the root cause of being gay, in fact, the person may live their whole life with this belief and not be gay. But believe same sex Intimacy = Love and Belonging.

The same applies to parenting styles, if you are a boy and your mother dressed you as a girl and demonstrates a love and connectedness to a daughter rather than a son, it is possible for the son to grow believing he can only be loved if dressed in woman’s clothes. But again, this is not being Gay, this is propelled by external needs to be loved and manifests in confusion.

The two examples above are possibly correctable in therapy. Because they are not heartfelt truth. They are external factors, programs if you will, that became a construct for love and belonging. 

The Reality of Sexual Orientation 

Orientation as a truth, it cannot be reversed by therapy, drugs or any other interventions. What age do young people know their orientation? If we are really honest with ourselves. We realise we have always known. Whether straight or gay, we know, deep down from the time we know what attraction is.

Here is a simple key. If I’m straight boy and I have a crush on a straight girl, it’s ok. I feel alive and I feel good about my crush but I may keep it a secret. I may be shy. But I’m good with my feelings. On the other hand. If I’m a straight boy I just won’t have a crush on another boy. If I’m a gay boy and I have a crush on another boy, I feel alive. But I may feel confused. I feel embarrassed. I may feel shame and guilt. Not because of whom I am. But because of who I am expected to be. 

Finding The Courage 

Coming to terms with one's sexual orientation can take some time. Sometimes a lifetime. A lifetime of not living ones truth. But if you allow yourself to let go of the shame associated with your inner demons, the “coming out” is so enlivening and enriching for deep lifelong happiness. 

Be your true self. Be who you truly are and live your truth.  

Talk with someone who will listen with care, love and empathy, be careful whom you choose to share your secret. 

David Ellis