Sexuality is quite a big term so it’s easier to understand if it is broken down.
Sexual orientation is a person’s attraction to the same, opposite or both sexes
This is where labels are often used to group people together – lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* etc
Sexual identity is how people see themselves
This is where an individual sees themselves as male or female. Sometimes this is the same as the physical gender they have at birth, sometimes it is not. If not then these people are often referred to as trans* and may wish to (or not) have surgery to change their physical gender appearance.
Sexual behaviour is what a person does sexually, (this does not always depend upon a person’s sexual identity or orientation, as the person may be exploring their sexuality, or even choosing to have sexual relations with others of a different sexual orientation, whether pan, bi or for experimentation).
This is the sexual act itself, it can take place on your own or between 2 or more people. It is always important to be happy with what you are doing and what other people are doing to you. Consent is really important and boundaries should be discussed before you start having sex to prevent being pressured into doing something you are not happy with. Further information on consent can be found at Rape Crisis.
These three aspects make up your sexuality
Sexuality is part of your personality, it’s how you feel about yourself as a sexual being and how others see you. Your emotions, feelings, behaviour and culture all help to define your sexuality. It can also change over time as you experience different life events.
Some religions and cultures say that sex should only be between a man and a woman in order to have children. It can therefore be very difficult as a person from one of these groups if you feel that you ‘don’t fit in to the norm’ as getting appropriate advice and support can be a struggle.
It is important to know that you are not alone, there are many organisations and support groups out there to help you.
However a person thinks of themselves whether that is gay, straight, lesbian, bi, trans* etc. they deserve to be treated with respect.
Like your body and your brain, your sexuality develops throughout your life. It may take time to figure out who you are and what you want, but that’s all part of the process. Take your time.
If you identify as LGBTQ+ you are welcome to attend any of our clinics at any time. A specific LGBTQ+ service is provided at the Florey clinic every Monday 4-6.30pm. A specific MSM service is provided at the Florey clinic every Wednesday 8-10am.
*Trans is a term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum. The asterisk makes an effort to include all transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming identities, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.