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Am I gay, lesbian or bisexual?

It's not unusual to be attracted to both girls and boys when you're growing up.

During puberty, you have lots of emotions and sexual feelings. It's normal for girls to think about girls in a sexual way, and for boys to think about boys in a sexual way.

Heterosexual

People who are heterosexual are romantically and physically attracted to the opposite sex. So girls fancy boys and boys fancy girls. Heterosexuals are also sometimes called 'straight'.

Homosexual

People who are homosexual are romantically and physically attracted to the same sex. So boys fancy boys and girls fancy girls. Men are often called 'gay' and women are often called 'lesbians'.

Bisexual

People who are bisexual are romantically and physically attracted to people of both sexes. So boys fancy both girls and boys, and so do girls.

 

Some people realise that they prefer people of the opposite sex, while others feel that they prefer people of the same sex. Some people realise that they're gay later in life, and some know it from an early age.

You don't choose your sexuality, it chooses you. No one knows what makes people gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight. If you're attracted to people of the same sex, this is normal and you deserve to be with someone you love.

What if I'm gay, lesbian or bisexual?

Getting involved and talking to others can help to give you a better understanding.

There are a number of organisations in Wirral who can offer support

Wirral Brook

Brook offers support at its 'Work It Out' group for young lesbian, gay, bisexual people, or those who are unsure of their sexuality, aged 14-18 every Thursday at Wirral Brook between 6.15pm - 8.15pm. The main aim of 'Work it Out' is to build the confidence levels and self esteem of people who attend through set topics and activities such as team building games and discussion exercises.

New Horizons

Held at Wallasey Youth Hub in partnership with Terrence Higgins Trust, the New Horizons group provides a weekly support group for LGBT young people aged 13 to 19 who come together to share common experiences in a safe space, explore topical issues and take part in a range of youth activities and events. The support staff can also point young people towards further support if needed.

The group meets on Monday at 6.30pm – 8.30pm at Wallasey Youth Hub. You can just turn up and ask for the New Horizons group, call Katrina Maxwell on 07920 270 107, or check out the Wirral LGBT Network for more information.

The Hub was awarded the Navajo Charter Mark in 2014 for promoting equality in the area. The award recognises the Hub's work to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people.

Should I tell anyone?

This is up to you. Being gay, lesbian or bisexual is normal, but some people don't understand this. Telling people that you're gay, lesbian or bisexual is known as 'coming out'. You can read more regarding coming out, and find out about the things to be considered before you decide whether to tell people.

You might find the following sites helpful too:

The Lesbian and Gay Foundation

www.brook.org

What about sex?

We all have the same feelings and anxieties about sex, deciding when you're ready to have sex is a big step, whoever your potential partner might be.

It's a decision only you can make. Although there's a legal age of consent, that's not necessarily the right age for you to start having sex. Everyone is ready at different times, but don't have sex just because your mates or your boyfriend or girlfriend are pressuring you. It's OK to say no.

If you think the time is right, talk to your partner about needing to use contraception, having safer sex and keeping yourself safe.

Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

If you're having sex with someone of the same sex, there's no risk of pregnancy, but you can still get or pass on STIs. Boys should always wear a condom and girls should use a dam (a square of very thin, soft plastic).

Make sure that you know about all the methods of contraception, whether you have sex with males or females, in case you also have straight sex. It's better to be prepared with contraception than to put yourself at risk. Always use condoms to prevent STIs.

Free condoms

You can get free condoms from a sexual health, community contraceptive or young persons’ clinic and some GPs, even if you're under 16. You can visit the sexual health section for more information. You can also buy condoms from pharmacies and supermarkets. Remember, only use condoms with the CE mark. This means that they've been tested to high European safety standards. Condoms without the CE mark aren't safe, so don't use them.

Bullying

Some people don't understand that being LGBT is normal. Nobody has the right to tell someone else how to live their life, or to pick on them because of who they're attracted to. If someone bullies you, it's their problem, not yours, and they shouldn't get away with it. This is called homophobic bullying.

Bullying can take many forms, including stares, calling you names, looks, whispers, threats and violence. If you're being bullied, tell someone you trust. This could be a teacher, friend, your parents or a helpline.

Schools have a legal duty to ensure that homophobic bullying is dealt with. Visit the bullying section to find contact details of anti-bullying organisations and helplines.

You can find out more about dealing with homophobic bullying on these websites:

EACH (Educational Action Challenging Homophobia)

This is a charity for young people and adults affected by homophobia. It has a helpline for young people, and for parents or teachers who want to report homophobic bullying. Call their Actionline  free on 0808 1000 143 on weekdays, 10am-4pm.

Stonewall

Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for equal rights for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people. On the website, you can find case studies, facts and figures about homophobic bullying in schools, and advice for young people and teachers.