24 December 2007

Am I bisexual ?

Hi. My name is Leela. I am 14 years old. Ever since I was little I’ve been curious about the opposite gender. I really like guys but I am also attracted to girls as well. I definitely like guys more than girls but I am confused. If I am bisexual I could never tell my family. They have strong opinions about that sort of stuff and they would kill me! I would have to say that I am more sexually attracted to girls but at the same time I have a fear of having sex with a guy because I’m afraid it will hurt. I don’t know if that is the reason I am more sexually attracted to girls or not. I need major help and advice!!!

vi nguyen

Hi Leela,

Thank you for your question. I understand this must be a confusing situation for you. You are at an age when you are starting to explore your sexuality and also trying to determine what (or who) is attractive to you and whether this is “normal.”

First, I would like to say that most individuals in our society stand on a certain spectrum in terms of attraction to the same gender as well as other genders, with some people being only attracted to one gender and others to all genders in different proportions. No matter where you stand on this spectrum, you can develop ways of interacting with others that are healthy and fulfilling to you as well as some habits/patterns that are not so healthy. The most important thing about relationships is to succeed in creating a trusting and satisfying relationship for both partners, and not so much about the gender of the person involved.

Certainly, there is nothing wrong about being bisexual or lesbian: you should choose to be with people you like, and others should respect that choice. I actually don’t think you need to choose between being attracted to girls and being attracted to boys. While some people who are attracted to both men and women call themselves bisexual, this is not a choice you have to make if you don’t want to, i.e. this is not a label you have to identify with. Sometimes people are just attracted to certain individuals/personalities or certain kinds of interactions and it doesn’t necessarily matter which gender is implicated in that interaction.

On the other hand, it is true that sexual orientation and preferences are not fixed in time and space. You could also change your mind, and realize you are only attracted to girls, or to guys, or remain attracted to both. It is possible you are more afraid of intercourse with a boy than with a girl because this has been associated with pain. Although it is healthy to work through that fear with, for example, a boy you really like and who you can trust, there is also absolutely nothing wrong with having a first sexual encounter with a girl, if that is what makes you feel most comfortable at the present time. It is important to remember that you should only do what you feel at ease doing, and you should let no one force you into a behavior just because it is “normal” or expected from you. Your happiness is all that matters.

That being said, it is not always easy to talk about certain issues to your parents, more specifically about your sexual orientation. First, you may want to give it some time: as I have mentioned before, you are at a stage of your life when you are still trying to figure out who you are attracted to, or which kinds of interactions are attractive to you.

It may be easier to first discuss these issues with someone outside of your family who can listen in a non-judgmental manner. Apart from your school psychologist and/or social worker, you can also contact Interligne (514-866-0103 for the Montreal area), a phone line for people who have similar issues. Remember to take time for yourself to clarify this issue before discussing this with your parents.

Once you feel ready to have this discussion with your family, you may find them more receptive to what you have to say if they have acquired beforehand more information about sexuality in general and sexual orientation in particular. Project 10 or Jeunesse Lambda are excellent resources for information if you live in Montreal. Even though this information might not result immediately in your parents’ complete acceptance or understanding, it can definitely make it easier, both for you and for them.

Finally, I would like to reiterate that sexual identity and sexual behavior do not always fit into neat categories of heterosexuals, homosexuals or even bisexuals. For example, even though you see yourself as being heterosexual does not mean you can only date or have sexual relationships with men. Also, you remain the best judge as to when and how you feel most comfortable disclosing this personal issue to your parents…

Good luck, and don’t hesitate to contact us again if you have other questions,

Vi, for AlterHeros