You’ll know when you know. It could take a while, and there’s no need to rush.
Some LGBT people say that, from the time they were very young even just five or six they “felt different.” They didn’t share the grade-school crushes about which friends talked, they had crushes on friends of their own sex, or they questioned their gender identity and no one seemed to be talking about that.
Often, they say, it took a while to put a name to their feelings to begin to think of themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans. But when they started thinking in those words, it made sense it fit with the feelings they’d had growing up.
Many other people, though, don’t begin to figure out their sexual orientation or gender identity until they’re teenagers or even adults and it can be confusing. At some point, almost everybody gets a “crush” on someone of, the same gender. And we often explore or identify with different gender roles and expectations. But none of that means you’re LGBT.
One or two sexual experiences with someone of the same gender may not mean you’re gay, either just as one or two sexual experiences with someone of the opposite gender may not mean you’re straight. Many LGBT people have some sexual experiences with the opposite gender, and many straight people have some same-gender sexual experiences.
It’s important to know, too, that you can be a virgin or not be sexually active and still know that you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans. Your feelings and your emotional and physical attractions will help tell you who you are.
Our sexuality develops over time. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure. Your school years are a time of figuring out what works for you, and crushes and experimentation are often part of that. Over time, you’ll find that you’re drawn mostly to men or women or both and then you’ll know. You don’t have to label yourself today.
If you think you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans, don’t be afraid of it, and don’t hide your feelings from yourself. All that does is keep you from figuring out your sexual or gender identity from figuring yourself out.
Adapted from “Be Yourself: Q&A for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgendered Youth” written by PFLAG