Sexuality is complex and personal, and involves understanding the sexual, romantic and emotional attraction we may feel towards other people. Sexuality can also play an important role in our identity and our sense of self. Everyone has a different experience of sexuality, and each one of us has the right to decide if, and how, we wish to express it.Sometimes it can take a while to define your sexuality and, even then, it can still change – and that is okay. Your sexuality is about what feels right for you and what makes you happy – not simply conforming to the expectations of other people.
Attraction is when you like someone more than as a friend – you may think about them all the time, want to be close to them physically and/or emotionally, and you may feel aroused when you see or think about them.
There are many different types of attraction. Some of these include:
- Sexual attraction: the desire for sexual contact with another person(s) or showing sexual interest in another person(s)
- Romantic attraction: the desire for romantic contact or interaction with another person(s)
- Emotional attraction: the desire to get to know someone based on their personality rather than their appearance
Some people may experience one or a few types of attraction at a time, and some people may not experience any types of attraction. Attraction can also come about in different ways, for example, some people may not experience sexual attraction until they feel a close emotional connection with a person.
Sexual orientation is often the term used to describe who you are or are not attracted to in a sexual and/or romantic way.
You may be attracted to people of a different gender, or attracted to people of the same gender, or you may be attracted to more than one gender, or to no-one in particular. This is healthy and perfectly normal. Nobody should be bullied or ashamed because of who they are, or are not, attracted to.
There are a lot of different sexualities people can identify with. It’s not defined by who you have sex with – it’s about how you feel about your own sexual orientation, and only you can choose how you identify and want to call yourself. For some people, their sexuality is something that they have always known and never changes, and for other people it can be more fluid, or change at different points in their life.
It’s also okay for sexuality and the labels we use for this to shift, each person has the right to a label which suits how they feel right now, or not have a label at all.
These are a few examples of identities that describe a person’s sexual orientation, but there are many others. It’s important to never make assumptions about someone’s sexual orientation or how they identify – if in doubt, respectfully ask them!