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Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender - Frequently Asked Questions

What is sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation is the physical and emotional attraction of someone to the same sex, opposite sex, or both sexes. Three types of sexual orientation are: gay, lesbian, heterosexual, and bisexual.

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What is a heterosexual?

A heterosexual is someone who is physically and emotionally attracted to people of the opposite gender. Another word for heterosexuality is "straight".

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What is a homosexual?

A homosexual is someone who is physically and emotionally attracted to people of the same sex. Because the word homosexual is used as a medical term, many homosexual people prefer to use the words gay or lesbian.

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What does gay mean?

Gay is a term for homosexuals that is used for both males and females but can also be used to refer only to homosexual men.

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What is a lesbian?

A lesbian is a female homosexual.

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What does bisexual mean?

A bisexual is someone who is physically and emotionally attracted to both males and females.

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What does Trans/Transgender mean?

Umbrella terms that describe people with diverse gender identities and gender expressions that do not conform to stereotypical ideas about what it means to be a girl/woman or boy/man in society. “Trans” can mean transcending beyond, existing between, or crossing over the gender spectrum. It includes but is not limited to people who identify as transgender, transsexual, cross-dressers or gender non-conforming (gender variant or gender-queer).

Trans identities include people whose gender identity is different from the gender associated with their birth-assigned sex. Trans people may or may not undergo medically sup­portive treatments, such as hormone therapy and a range of surgical procedures, to align their bodies with their internally felt gender identity.

Source: Rainbow Health Ontario

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What if I'm not sure what my sexual orientation is?

  • Only you can answer this question. There is no time limit on making a decision and it is normal to be confused. One day you may feel sure that you are attracted to someone of the same sex and the next day you may feel you were wrong.
  • We live in a world where it is assumed that everyone is heterosexual. We receive all sorts of messages from family, friends, school, TV and movies that try to tell you who you should be. You may be feeling that you are something else.

If you are not sure about your sexual orientation you can:

  • Read books and magazines that deal with orientation issues. These will provide you with information.
  • Try sharing your feelings with a counsellor , a trusted friend, a nurse , or doctor. Talking about what you are feeling can often help.

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Do I have to be "out"?

  • No. Like so many other things in life, you don’t have to do something that you do not feel ready for or comfortable with.
  • Being "out" means telling someone about your sexual orientation.
  • Coming out  can be very difficult. If you are feeling angry, guilty or afraid, then these may be signs that this may not be a good time to come out.

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Do I have to have sex to know if I'm gay?

  • No. Being gay, like being heterosexual, is not about having sex.
  • It is about attraction, affection, how you see yourself, and the gender of the person you see yourself with.
  • It is about relationships, families, communities, and friendship.
  • Having sex before you are ready may cause confusion and can put you at risk. The challenge is to make sure you are ready.

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