Gay, straight and bisexual
It’s normal 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.
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?
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 in the phone book, at GP surgeries, sexual health or contraceptive clinics, pharmacies, youth groups, local papers or on the internet.
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'.
What about sex?
We all have the same feelings and anxieties about sex, whether we’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight. Deciding when you’re ready to have sex is a big step, whoever your potential partner might be.
It’s a huge decision, but only you can make it. Although there's a legal age of consent, that’s not necessarily the right age for you to start having sex. 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, 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, picking the right time, and how you would both like the experience to be.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can pass from girls to girls and boys to boys, as well as between girls and boys.
Pregnancy and 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 if they have oral or anal sex, and girls should use a dam (a square of very thin, soft plastic) over their genitals during oral sex. If you're using sex toys, use a new condom for each partner.
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.
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 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 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.
Stonewall: Education for All
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
Whatever your sexuality it’s worth knowing that:
- being gay or straight is not a choice
- being 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
- no one can make a straight person gay or a gay person straight
And whether you’re gay, 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 a right to be who you want to be.
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
Bullying, abuse and violence
Most people think that if they are raped it will be by someone they don’t know, late at night, down a dark alley, probably at knife point.
The truth is that many people have sex that they haven’t really consented to, with someone they know, either because they’ve had too much to drink, or they’ve taken another drug that’s affected their ability to make decisions. Or both of these.
If it has been your choice to drink or take a drug that has affected your ability to say no to sex, the law is very likely to regard your consent, drunken or otherwise, to still be consent.
If however someone put a drug in your drink- and this includes putting more alcohol in there than you were aware of, say a double shot rather than a single - in order to make it more likely that you will agree to have sex, then they may be prosecuted for rape or sexual assault.
Here’s some suggestions on how 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 stoned 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.
- 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 stoned 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.
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 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.
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) 0845 456 4810
The Ferns - Sexual Assault Referral Centre
(Suffolk) 0300 123 5058
These services provide:
The Counselling Directory
- 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
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.