When discussing sexuality, or sexual orientation, we may often think of those that identify as straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual. But there are much more identities than that! MyUmbrella is a great resource for understanding sexual orientations - there's over 100 ways in which someone could identify!
Understanding your sexuality takes time, and very much happens in your own time. For some, thoughts and feelings start to occur from a young age, for others it may happen later in life - both of these are perfectly natural.
It’s important to understand the many sexual orientations under which people identify.
The personal experience of those that are figuring out their sexuality, as mentioned, happens over a period of time - there’s no defining how long this could be. It’s very unlikely you wake up one day and identify as ‘cassexual’, however understanding your sexual identity could take a matter of weeks or a matter of years.
Here’s an experience from one of our volunteer about figuring out their identity.
It’s completely your decision and choice when it comes to how open you are about your sexuality within society, whether it’s school, work or going about your daily bits and pieces.
If you’d prefer for a select group knowing about your sexual orientation and then going about life as naturally as anyone, absolutely. If you’d prefer to be out and honest with others about your sexual orientation as a way of being transparent, absolutely. Like we say, it’s your choice of who knows about you.
There’s always the initial fear of how people will react, or how sensitively they act after finding out. This also raises concerns about you being ‘outed’ to others through no intent of your own. It’s always best to read the situation - develop a level of trust in people first, if you sense or become aware of something that may mean they aren’t so accepting, it may be wiser to keep your guard up.
If the relationship is positive and they seem understanding, then it’s okay to be open with them when you feel it’s a good time to do so. Just be clear that this is still something personal to you and any point where you draw the line about the response thereafter. For example, if it’s a classmate, you may be comfortable with others within your circle of friends knowing if there’s a similar level of trust there. But outside that circle it is still your decision of who knows and under which conditions.
Once you’re out to others, it will seem quite daunting at first - you may feel exposed for some time and it can be difficult to know what to do next. It’s best to keep an individual or a few people close to you to try and keep some familiarity in life. Over time, things will get better for you as people understand you.
Young People -
It’s common for younger people to question their sexual orientation - here’s a local group who meet regularly to talk things through as well as sociable activities.
If you're a university or college student, there may be existing groups and societies or an opportunity to start your own!
University of Gloucestershire LGBT+ Society
Wellbeing & Social Groups -
This is a range of social and wellbeing groups in Gloucestershire and surrounding areas - this is more for indirect support to get involved with like-minded people with potentially similar interests.
LGBT+ Reading Group, Out2gether, GGLC, Pride in Gloucestershire events, Sober Parrot Socials
General Support -
Exploring your sexuality and coming out can have a huge affect on your mental health - here are some support services offering a range of ways to talk about what’s on your mind.
Switchboard LGBT+, Mind Swindon & Gloucestershire