Our individual sexual and gender identities are part of what makes us all unique.
What do 'sexuality' and 'gender' mean?
Your sexuality relates to who you are attracted to both physically and emotionally. This might be males, females, both or no-one. Your sexuality is not a choice. It is a part of who you are.
Your gender is the sex which you relate to and identify with most. While you were assigned a gender at birth, you may not feel comfortable with that gender as you grow.
From a young age, people can feel as though they are attracted to a particular sex. This can be a confusing time for some. It is a time when it is important to understand that you are not alone.
Discovering your sexuality can also be a very exciting time. You might identify with being straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or you might identify in another way. It can be difficult to know where to find support.
‘Coming Out’ is the term used to describe the journey a person experiences in coming to terms with, accepting and eventually letting others know their sexual orientation or gender identity.
There are different stages in the coming out process and some people feel ready sooner than others to invite people into their world, or to share their thoughts.
Discovering your sexuality is based on realizing your feelings. After this, a person moves towards accepting who they are. Finally, a person can become comfortable living and embracing life as their true self.
Homophobic behavior is based on a prejudice towards people who identify as anything other than ‘straight’. It is based on a lack of knowledge. A person might be homophobic as they think this will help them to ‘fit in with the crowd’.
Homophobic behavior is directed specifically at people who identify as LGBTQ+ and can be very hurtful and harmful. Sometimes a person might experience elements of homophobic behavior after coming out.
It is important that you can feel free to be who you are! Nobody has the right to hurt you, or to make you feel unsafe. If you have feel you have been treated differently because of who you are, you have a right to support. Childline is always available to listen.
You can contact Childline 24 hours a day by calling 1800 66 66 66, or between 10am and 4am every day by texting to 50101 or chatting online at Childline.ie.
Society can sometimes place expectations on how things should be – and gender is often a part of this. Breaking away from these expectations in a bid to explore your true self can be difficult.
Your experience is unique to you. How you identify (as male, female, both, or neither) can be expressed using pronouns. You can also reflect your sense of self in how you dress.
Gender identity is not fixed and at times you can move between genders. Feeling the freedom to express your unique self can be very empowering.
It is important to know that you are not along through this journey. Is there a trusted adult you can talk with about how you feel? Childline is always here to listen to you and support you. You can talk to us in confidence at any time and we won’t judge you for what you say.
Feelings and emotions
You might experience lots of different emotions as you journey towards accepting and living as your true self. You might feel scared, confused, or something else.
However you might feel, you are not alone. There is help and support available and this can really help.
Childline is always here to listen to you.
Another organization which you might find helpful is BeLonG To. BeLonG To listens to and supports young people who identify as LGBTI+.
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