Sexual Identity is incredibly complex and diverse; it is not a fixed experience for many people.
When we start to consider sexual identity (how we describe ourselves), sexual orientation (who we are sexually attracted to) and sexual behaviour (what we actually do sexually) we realise that all three are rarely seamlessly aligned; nor are they static. Some people will have a more permanent and consistent sexuality i.e. I have always known I was same-sex attracted and I have no interested in heterosexual sex, for others their sexuality changes over time. This fluidity can be problematic for some people. Some times it is difficult for the individual to understand the change in the self, for others it is difficult due to the judgements or prejudice of others.
Suspicion can be cast on those whose sexual identity has changed over time, or towards those whose behaviour does not match their sexual identity. For example, society is often just as shocked when a gay man or lesbian starts a relationship with the opposite sex as it is to hear about their initial coming out. Equally society may question how a man can consider himself straight if he is having sex with men?
Judgement and confusion about sexuality can cause individuals to feel anxious, uncertain and depressed. Research findings suggest that gay, lesbians, transgendered and intersex populations are at higher risk for depression and anxiety disorders by Beyond Blue. Often discussing the internal conflict and challenging real or perceived rejection can be helpful in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
I encourage all individuals to be open to the wonderfully rich spectrum of sexuality and sexual expression that we have in our communities, rather than focus on the 3 more widely acknowledged categories (heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual). Also, I encourage people to consider that there may be more possibilities of sexual expression than we could ever imagine.
See resources for support and information for individuals, parents, friends, and partners of same-sex attracted persons.
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