What does LGBTQ+ mean?
LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and more. It describes multiple sexualities that a person might feel they identify as, excluding what society has often seen as ‘normal’ i.e. heterosexual (being both emotionally and physically attracted to the opposite sex). However, this idea of a ‘normal’ sexuality is simply untrue. Sexuality is better understood as a varied spectrum in which no one sexuality is valued above the others. We are all different and unique!
Sexuality is often defined as who you are physically and romantically attracted to, but these two definitions are not always connected. For example, you might be physically attracted to one person and emotionally attracted to another.
Everyone has a different journey in understanding who they are attracted to. Some people are sure of their sexuality from a young age, some take time to understand what attraction they feel towards others, some might have feelings that change over time, and others may not feel an attraction to others at all. All these feelings and emotions might feel overwhelming at times; it might be difficult coming to terms with how you feel. Ultimately though, it is important to be true to yourself.
Questioning your sexuality
It is completely normal to be unsure about your sexuality and the way you identify yourself to others. Remember that there is no pressure to fit yourself in society’s boxes and label yourself as one sexuality. In fact, for many people, sexuality is fluid and changes over time.
There are many different sexualities and their definitions are constantly changing and adapting. It is also common to relate to more than one of them at a time. To give you an idea of the broad spectrum of sexuality, here is a list of some definitions (it might be that none of these definitions describe exactly how you feel, but that’s okay, there are infinite ways of expressing your sexuality!):
- Aromantic: Someone who doesn’t feel romantically attracted to anyone
- Asexual: Someone who doesn’t feel sexually attracted to anyone
- Bicurious: People who don’t see themselves as homosexual or heterosexual, but might be curious about the gender they’re normally not attracted to
- Bisexual: People who feel emotionally and sexually attracted to both sexes
- Crossed orientation: People who feel an emotional attraction that is different to their sexual attraction
- Homosexual: People who are emotionally and sexually attracted to people of the same sex
- Heteroflexible: Someone who usually thinks of themselves as straight but sometimes feels attracted to people of the same sex
- Homoflexible: Someone who usually thinks of themselves as homosexual but sometimes feels attracted to people of the opposite sex
- Demisexual: Someone who’s not sexually attracted to anyone until they’ve had an emotional connection with them first
- Lesbian: Girls who are emotionally and sexually attracted to other girls
- Pansexual: Someone who’s emotionally and physically attracted to people of any gender or sexual orientation
- Polysexual: Someone who is emotionally and physically attracted to some genders, but not all
- Queer: LGBTQ+ people will use this to describe not fitting into other sexualities or categories
- Questioning: Someone who’s questioning what their sexuality might be
- Straight / Heterosexual: People who are emotionally and sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex
What is ‘coming out’?
‘Coming out’ means telling someone else about your sexuality. This is usually not a singular event, as you may come out multiple times to many different people.
Sometimes, telling people can be fulfilling and can help you feel truer to yourself. At other times, the situation might be more difficult, especially when you feel someone might not approve or accept you. If you are at all worried about speaking out about how you feel, you might want to first approach the people you can trust the most. If you are unsure who you could turn to, you could speak to someone from a helpline or an online support service to express your concerns.
There is, however, no pressure to come out – even if you would feel comfortable doing so. It is entirely up to you: you might want to shout it from the rooftops or you may prefer to keep your feelings to yourself.
If an LGBTQ+ person is excluded or abused verbally or physically for their sexuality, this is discrimination. This should never be tolerated and should be reported at every opportunity. It is important to understand that this discrimination is not your fault either. You have the right to be yourself and your identity should be respected. If you are experiencing discrimination because of your sexuality, there are ways you can build up your confidence:
- Remind yourself why you are proud to be you. You could write this down, draw a picture, make a poem or just say it in front of a mirror
- Talk to someone you trust. When you feel accepted by someone you care about it can help build your confidence if you decide to tell other people
- Think about what makes you unique. We all have differences and can learn a lot about each other if we talk about stuff like our hobbies and what we enjoy. Imagine how boring the world would be if we were all identical!
- Find other people who might be going through similar feelings. You can join local clubs, check out our message boards or look for support groups online.
If you live in Gloucestershire and are aged 9-21, you can get support from our TIC+ counsellors. TIC+ works hard at raising funds so they can arrange for a counsellor to see you for free, all you need to do is call us on 01594 372777 or text us on 07520 634063 to arrange an appointment. We know it can be hard to take that first step but, like the other young people we’ve helped, you’ll be so glad you did.
If you need to speak to someone urgently, call Childline on 0800 1111, NHS 111 (on 111) or the Samaritans on 116 123. There’s always someone there to help, and any conversations you have with them are confidential.
For more advice check out our SUPPORT RESOURCES page!