Sex is often confused for love. There are lots of other ways of showing someone you care about them which don’t involve sex.

Are you ready?

Only you know when you’re ready for sex and who you want to have sex with - whether male, female, or both

Coming Out


Sexual orientation: gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight

It’s natural 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 natural for girls to think about girls in a sexual way, and for boys to think about boys in a sexual way.

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 sexual orientation, 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 natural and you deserve to be with someone you love.

What if I'm gay, lesbian or bisexual?
It can help to talk to other people who are going through the same thing. Find out if there's a young men’s or women’s group in your area for lesbian, gay or bisexual people. These groups might be advertised online, at GP surgeries, iCaSH clinics (integrated contraception and sexual health clinics), pharmacies, youth groups and local papers.

If you feel you want support you might want to get in touch with:

The Norfolk LGBT Project - advice, information and social support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender people in Norfolk.

BLAH LGB Youth - social and peer support for young lesbian, gay and bisexual people or those questioning their sexuality

Should I tell anyone? 
This is up to you. Being gay, lesbian or bisexual is as natural and normal as being straight but some people don't understand this. Telling people that you're gay, lesbian or bisexual is known as 'coming out'. Some people come out as soon as they know what their sexual orientation is, some people wait years and some people never come out. The most important thing is to do what feels right for you - and talking to other people who have done it, or are thinking about doing it, can really help. Services such as BLAH (listed above) can help you to have these conversations.

The LGBT Foundation - information, advice and some coming-out stories.

What about sex?
We all have the same hopes and anxieties about sex, whether we are gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight. Deciding when you feel ready to have sex is a big step, whoever your potential partner might be.

Although the legal age of consent is 16 for everyone, whatever their sexual orientation, it doesn’t mean that sex becomes compulsory at 16! Many people wait longer, until they are sure about how they feel. There are no rules about how long you have to be going out with someone before you do it.

Everyone is ready at different times, so don't have sex just because your mates or your boyfriend or girlfriend are pressuring you. It’s just as OK to say ‘no thanks’ if you don’t want to do it as it is to say ‘YES PLEASE!’ if you do.

If you think the time is right, talk to your partner about what’s going on for them. If they feel the same way it’s great if you can do a little planning to make it a sexy and stress-free experience by picking a good time and place to be together. There is no fool-proof recipe for great sex, it’s about trying things out and letting each other know what feels good and what could make it better. Talking in advance about using condoms or dams will make it more likely that they are kept handy and used at the right time. And if there is something you'd like to try, or something you definitely don't want to try, it can be good to mention this before you both get turned on and carried away.

The thing to remember is that sex is supposed to feel good and be an exciting next step for both people. If you’re not quite there yet, it doesn’t mean it will never happen.

Pregnancy and STIs
If both people having sex have a penis or both people having sex have a vagina there is no risk of pregnancy but it's a good idea to know how to protect against STIs because these can still be passed on. If someone is sucking a penis, that penis should have a condom on it unless tests have shown there is not risk of an STI being in the semen. Likewise if someone is licking a vulva or an anus, a latex dam should be used to create a barrier between mouth and genitals. If sex toys are being used, a new condom should be put on each time it is used on a different partner.

Make sure that you know about contraception in case you end up having the kind of sex which could cause a pregnancy. It's better to be prepared with contraception than to put yourself at risk. Always use condoms or dams to prevent STIs unless you and your partner remain sexually exclusive and have regular STI tests.

Free condoms
Anyone can get condoms through the C-Card scheme no matter whether they are gay, straight or lesbian or bisexual.

Bullied for being gay
Some people don’t understand that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is as natural and normal as being straight. 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 because you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, 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, looks, whispers, threats and violence. If you’re being bullied because you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, tell someone you trust. This could be a teacher, friend, your parents or a helpline.
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 Actionline for free on 0808 100 0143 on weekdays, 10am-4pm.

Young Stonewall
Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for equal rights for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people. Its Education for All campaign tackles homophobia and homophobic bullying in schools across the UK. On the website, you can find case studies, facts and figures about homophobic bullying in schools, and advice for young people and teachers.

Talking to someone who is understanding will always help if you have worries or questions because you will feel supported and more confident.

Be who you want to be
Whoever you fancy it is worth knowing that:

  • being lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight is not a choice
  • being bisexual, lesbian or gay isn’t an illness so it can’t be cured
  • there’s no such thing as “"normal"”
  • it's not wrong to be gay, bisexual or lesbian
  • no one can make a straight person lesbian/bisexual/gay or a gay/lesbian/bisexual person straight

And whether you’re gay, lesbian, straight or bisexual, think about this when you next hear someone saying something unpleasant about or to another person:

  • It upsets people when someone doesn’t like them just because of who they’re attracted to
  • you have the right to be who you want to be.

A word about gender identity.....
If sexual orientation is all about who you fancy then gender identity is about whether you consider yourself to be male, female or neither. Transgender means 'relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex'. Historically a baby was designated either male of female by a doctor, according to its sex organs. Someone who is transgender does not identify with the biological sex they were given at birth. Someone who is cisgender (pronounced sisgender) does identify with the biological sex they were given at birth.

Many people would argue that traditional ideas about what is stereotypically male or female aren't very useful and nowadays there are a wide range of gender identities that people feel are more liberating and inclusive. The good news is that whatever gender someone aged 13-24 identifies as, they are welcome to have free condoms through C-Card.

For an interesting piece on sex and gender identity have a look here
at this page on BISH UK - a great source of info about love, sex and relationships for anyone 14+.

101 ways to show your care

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Do you want to show someone you really like them without having sex? OK, so you don’t have to be in love to have sex, but there are lots of ways to let someone know they’re special and you really, really like them, without having sex. These are some of them...

  • take them on a picnic
  • write them a song
  • give them a head massage
  • buy them something small you know they'd like
  • cook them a romantic dinner
  • get them their favourite magazine
  • sing a karaoke love song duet with them!
  • leave a single flower on their desk
  • take them to the cinema to watch a film they want to see
  • buy their dog a squeaky toy
  • lend them an item of your clothing
  • write them a poem
  • fix something of their's that's gone wrong
  • help them with a bit of work
  • revisit the place where you first met or kissed
  • send them a card, text or email that says something nice about how you feel
  • tell them something they've said or done is great
  • get them a song they really like
  • stick up for them in front of other people.
  • leave a message in an unexpected place
  • go for a walk at sunset
  • tell them something you like about them
  • make them breakfast in bed
  • run them a relaxing bath
  • Give them a photo of yourselves together
  • listen to their problems without being judgemental
  • give them a hug
  • tell your friends how special this person is
  • introduce them to your friends
  • introduce them to your family
  • give them a personal trinket of yours

Abuse and violence

Most people think that if they are sexually assaulted or raped it will be by a stranger, late at night, down a dark alley and probably at knife point.
The sad truth is that if someone experiences sexual assault or rape, it is statistically more likely to be with someone that they already know, perhaps someone they have been flirting with all night or even someone they consider to be their boyfriend or girlfriend. In any and all of these cases, it is a crime to force someone into sexual activity they do not want. There are no excuses.

Some people think that if the person who was raped or assaulted was drunk or on drugs then it is their fault and they were ‘asking for it’. This isn’t true. It is never the victim’s fault. Being drunk or high means that a person is not truly able to consent because their ability to make decisions is seriously affected. Anyone trying to have sex with someone who is drunk or high should stop and instead make sure that there is a friend looking out for that person’s safety.

Here are some suggestions to protect yourself and your friends:

  • There are drugs that people will use to get others to have sex with them when they wouldn’t otherwise agree.  Rohypnol, GHB and ketamine are the most well known ones but there are others.  However, the drug most often mentioned by young people as the reason they had sex when they didn’t really mean to is………yes, you’ve guessed it. Alcohol. So...
  • Know your limit for alcohol and drugs.  Mixing them can have unpredictable results so it’s not a great idea to combine the two if you want to have some control over your behaviour. Think about the consequences of getting so drunk or high that you don’t know what you’re doing anymore. Make sure it really is your choice when, where and with whom you have sex.
  • Stay on the ball!  If someone is buying you a lot to drink, or offering you drugs for nothing, why are they doing this? It could be to increase the chances that you’ll agree to have sex with them or go off with them somewhere less public.
  • Watch your drink – don’t leave it unattended so someone can put in some more alcohol, or another drug, without you knowing. It is an offence for someone to do this in order to try and have sex with you.
  • Look out for your friends –  if you think one of them is likely to come to harm in some way or do harm to someone else, get them away somewhere safe. It might be a good idea for you to agree to take it in turns for one of you to stay sober when you go out.
  • Never play a part in plying someone with alcohol or drugs with the intention of reducing their ability to say “no” to sex. It is an offence. It includes helping a mate to get another person drunk or high so that they can have sex with them. And it also includes getting someone to help you have sex with another person by plying him or her with alcohol or drugs.

For more information about rape, relationship abuse, sexting, porn and consent, have a look on Disrespect Nobody which is a website dedicated to helping young people identify disrespectful behaviour and have happier and healthier relationships. It has a very good directory of support agencies.

Sexual assault
A sexual assault can range from inappropriate touching to a life-threatening attack, rape or any other penetration of the mouth, vagina or anus. It's a myth that victims of sexual assault always look battered and bruised. A sexual assault may not leave any outward signs, but it's still a crime. 

Victims are most likely to be young women aged 16 to 24. But men and women of any age, race, ability or sexuality can be assaulted. This could be by a stranger or, much more likely, someone you know. It could be a partner, former partner, husband, wife, relative, friend or colleague. Don’t be afraid to get help.

Domestic violence
Domestic violence is when one person in a relationship is abusive towards another. This could be emotional, physical or sexual abuse, including forcing you into sexual activity against your will. Don't be afraid to get help.

Leeway Support is an independent charity providing support to adults, young people and children who are experiencing domestic abuse in Norfolk and Waveney.

For free confidential advice call the 24-hour helpline on 0300 561 0077
If you are in immediate danger call 999

If you need help you can contact:

Norfolk Constabulary (Emergency) 999
Norfolk Constabulary (Non-emergency) 101

Suffolk Constabulary (Emergency) 999
Suffolk Constabulary (Non-emergency) 101

If you, or someone you know, are a survivor of rape or sexual abuse, you can contact:

The Harbour Centre - Sexual Assault Referral Centre
(Norfolk) 01603 276381

The Ferns - Sexual Assault Referral Centre
(Suffolk) 0300 123 5058

These services provide:

  • Emotional support
  • Discussion of your options
  • Advice on sexual health and wellbeing
  • On-going support and help from an independent Sexual Violence Advisor
  • Advice on the specialist counselling services available
  • A medical examination to collect evidence
  • The option to talk to the Police if you want to, but it is your choice
  • The option to allow us to talk to the Police on your behalf, anonymously

The Counselling Directory
Counselling Directory is a confidential service that encourages those in distress to seek help. The directory contains information on many different types of distress, as well as articles, news, and events. To ensure the professionalism of their website, all cousellors have provided them with qualifications and insurance cover or proof of membership with a professional body.