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Rainbow Resource Center

How Do You Know?

From birth, most of us have been raised to think of ourselves as heterosexual and in identifying as heterosexual, we would correspond with the "appropriate" gender based on biological sex. For many, parents, families, teachers, friends and seemingly the entire culture said that a day would arrive when we would meet someone of the opposite sex and get married. Very few of us were told that we might fall in love with someone of the same sex. And virtually all of us are strongly discouraged from identifying with another gender. Thats why so many of us are shocked or confused when it happens.

Many people identify as gay or lesbian because their primary attractions (both emotional and physica)l are to members of the same sex. Many people who are attracted to both men and women identify as bisexual. Some transgender people say they felt like they were trapped in the wrong body for as long as they could remember. And sometimes people dont feel comfortable with any of these labels or they choose a mix of them. The important thing is to be honest with yourself.

No one knows how many people are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The most reputable estimates are skewed by the fact that many people are afraid or unwilling during surveys to identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender even when assured of anonymity. Whatever the numbers, the facts are the same:

Your Sexuality or Gender Identity Is Not a Choice. It Chooses You.

Some people say that sexuality or gender identity is a choice to discourage you from gay or lesbian relationships or from being comfortable with expressing your gender in the way that feels right to you. But think about it for a minute: Did you choose to have feelings of same sex attraction? Did you choose your sex at birth? Sexuality and gender identity are not choices any more than being left-handed or having brown eyes or being heterosexual. They are a part of who you are. The choice is in deciding how to live your life.

It's OK to Be Yourself.

In the 1970s, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association revised their positions on homosexuality. Both determined that homosexuality was not a mental disorder. In 1994, the American Medical Association released a statement saying most of the emotional disturbance experienced by gay men and lesbians around their sexual identity is not based on physiological causes but rather a sense of alienation in an unaccepting environment. Nonetheless, some people might try to tell you that you are sick and that you need professional help to change. No valid scientific evidence exists that shows that people can change their sexual orientation, although some people do repress it. The most reputable medical and psychotherapeutic groups say you should not try to change your sexual orientation.

Most importantly, remember that the problems people have dealing with their sexuality come from society and its treatment of GLBT people not from being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Its OK to seek help in dealing with the confusing feelings you may have about your sexual orientation or your gender identity. Understanding and being honest with yourself as well as coming out are critical milestones in life. As with any other significant step in your life, you might seek professional help through the process. Just remember: The anxiety you are feeling is primarily the result of social prejudice.

Being Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender Is Natural.

You've probably heard some people say that men are meant to be with women, and women are meant to be with men or that you should be a real man or be more feminine. They may say that unless you are straight, you are going against nature and morality. But if being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is unnatural, why would it occur, generation after generation, despite some cultures strong prohibitions? The fact is same-sex love and gender variance has occurred throughout history, in every nation and culture. They are natural variations among humans, and may have occurred somewhere in your own familys history. When people say being GLBT is unnatural, they mean it is against their preconceived idea of, or conditioned assumptions about, what is natural.

Being Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender Is Not a Lifestyle. Its a Life.

It's sometimes said that GLBT people live a gay lifestyle, a word chosen to trivialize and imply that all  subscribe to the same value, characteristic and dream. The fact is that the GLBT community is as diverse as the population at large. Some of us have one lifelong relationship; some have many relationships. We come from many different races and cultures. Some of us are liberal; some are conservative. Some are affluent; some are poor.

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