LGBTA-Q Resource Center
I Think I Might Be Gay...Now What Do I Do?
- What does it mean to be gay?
- How do I know if I'm gay?
- If you think you might be gay, ask yourself
- Making contact
- Learning to like yourself
- Emergency Contact Numbers
- Who should I tell?
- Will I ever have sex?
- What about HIV/AIDS and Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
- Here's how to reduce your risk of getting HIV/AIDS
What does it mean to be gay?
Men who call themselves gay are emotionally, spiritually, physically, and sexually, attracted to and fall in love with other male. Their sexual feelings toward men are normal and natural for them. These feelings emerge when they are boys and the feelings continue into adulthood. Although some gay men may also be attracted to women, they usually say that their feelings for men are stronger and more important to them.
We know that about one out of every ten people in the world is gay or lesbian (lesbians are women who are attracted to other women). This means that in any large group of people, there are usually several gay people present. However, you cannot tell if someone is gay or not unless he or she wants you to know. Gay people blend right in with other people. But they often feel different from other people.
Gay teenagers may not be able to specify just why they feel different. All of the guys they know seem to be attracted to girls, so they do not know where they fit in. And, they may not feel comfortable talking with an adult about their feelings.
How do I know if I'm gay?
You may not know what to call your sexual feelings. You do not have to rush and decide how to label yourself right now. Our sexual identities develop over time. Your sexual feelings may be so strong that they are not directed toward particular persons or situations, but seem to emerge without cause. As you get older you will figure out who you are really attracted to.
Men with truly gay feelings find that, over time, their attractions to men get more and more clearly focused. You may find yourself falling in love with your classmates or maybe developing a crush on a particular person. You may find these experiences pleasurable, troubling, or a mix of the two.
- When I dream or fantasize sexually, is it about men or women?
- Have I ever had a crush or been in love with a man?
- Do I feel different than other guys?
- Are my feelings for men true and clear?
- If you cannot answer these questions now, do not worry. You will be surer in time. You and only you know how to label yourself correctly.
So, you may be ready to find out more. One place to start is by reading. If you do not find what you are looking for, you may want to check out the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) section of the library or possibly order books and other material through the mail. Please note that not all books about gay people are supportive.
Remember, gay people are out there, wherever you are. Trust your instincts. Sooner or later you will meet someone who feels some of the same things you do.
Learning to like yourself:
It is not easy to discover that you are gay. Our society makes it very clear what it thinks of gay people. We all hear the terrible jokes, the hurtful stereotypes and the wrong ideas that circulate about gay people. People tend to hate or fear what they do not understand. Some people hate lesbians and gay men. Many people are uncomfortable being around lesbians and gay men.
It is no wonder that you might choose to hide your gay feelings from others. You might even be tempted to hide them from yourself.
You may wonder if you are normal. Perhaps you worry about people finding out about you. Maybe you avoid other people who might be gay because of what people will think. Working this hard to conceal your thoughts and feelings is called being in the closet. It is a painful and lonely place to be, even if you stay there in order to survive.
It takes a lot of energy to deny your feelings, and it can be costly. You may have tried using alcohol or other drugs to numb yourself against these thoughts. You may have considered suicide. If so, please contact the BGSU's Counseling Center at 419-372-2081 and they are open Monday & Thursday 8:00 am-7:00 pm and Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday, 8:00 am-5:00 pm.
If it is an emergency, call the police (419-372-3246 or 911). There are alternatives to denying your very valuable feelings.
- BGSU Police Department (101 Commons): 419-372-3246 or 911
- Behavioral Connections , The Link (1022 North Prospect): 352-1545. Crisis Intervention Center , 24-hour Crisis Hotline, Information and Referral, and Victims Advocacy Program (for victims of violent crimes).
- Wood County Hospital (950 West Wooster ): 419-354-8910. Immediate attention for physical crisis; seek attention at the Emergency Room.
- Bowling Green City Police (175 West Wooster ): 419-352-2571
- BGSU Student Health Services : 419-372-2271
- BGSU Wellness Connection : 419-372-9355
- BGSU Counseling Center : 419-372-2081
Who should I tell?
More and more gay individuals are learning to feel better about themselves. As you start to listen to your feelings and learn more about what it means to be gay, you will begin to be comfortable with your sexuality. This is the process called coming out.
The first step in coming out is to tell yourself that you are gay and say, "That's OK." Later you may want to tell someone else - someone you trust to be understanding and sympathetic. You might choose a friend or a family member. You will probably want to meet other gay people for friendship or have a more intimate relationship.
Some gay individuals are able to come out to their families. You need to decide whether or not to tell your family, and to choose the right time. Lots of people, including parents, simply do not understand gay people and are difficult to come out to. In the beginning, be cautious about whom you tell.
But it is crucial to be honest with yourself. Just as self-denial costs you, coming out pays off. Most people who accept their sexuality say they feel calmer, happier, and more confident.
Will I ever have sex?
Naturally, you think about finding an outlet for your sexual feelings. Becoming a healthy sexual person is part of the coming out process. You may be scared at the prospect of having sex. This is normal for everyone. No one should start having sex until they are ready. Until then, you may choose to masturbate or fantasize. Sex should only happen between mature individuals who care about each other. You will know when the time is right.
We all choose to have sex in different ways, whether we are gay or straight. Gay men choose from a wide range of sexual practices, including masturbation (either alone or with another person), oral sex, anal intercourse, kissing, hugging, massage, wrestling, holding hands, cuddling or anything else that appeals to both partners. You are in complete control over what you do sexually and with whom and should always choose to practice safer sex.
What about HIV/AIDS and Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
All sexually active people need to be aware of HIV/AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted infections. Being gay does not give you HIV/AIDS or STIs, but certain sexual practices and certain drug use behaviors can put you at risk. HIV/AIDS and some STIs are incurable, but are preventable.
Here's how to reduce your risk of getting HIV/AIDS:
Do not shoot up drugs. Sharing needles is the most dangerous behavior in terms of getting HIV/AIDS. Avoid anal intercourse or other direct anal contact without the use of a condom. Anal intercourse transmits the virus very efficiently. If you do engage in anal sex, use a condom every time.
Use condoms whenever you engage in anal or oral sex (or vaginal sex if you have sex with women). You should choose latex condoms that are fresh and undamaged. Store them away from heat (your wallet is not a good place to keep them). Use a condom only once. Try to choose condoms with water based lubricants and condoms that have reservoir tips and be sure to squeeze out the air from the tip as you put it on. Hold on to the condom as you remove your penis; sometimes they slip off after sex.
Choose sexual activities that do not involve intercourse and still as fun: hugging, kissing, talking, massaging, wrestling, or masturbating (on unbroken skin).
This webpage was adopted from a brochure written by Kevin Cranston and Cooper Thompson, with help from members of BAGLY, Boston Area Gay and Lesbian Youth. Organizations and individuals are free to reprint and distribute this brochure with written permission from The Campaign to End Homophobia. Write to us at P.O. Box 819 , Cambridge , MA 02139 .