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Kinds of orientation

Sexual orientation is a spectrum ranging from emotional, physical and sexual attraction to your own sex, to the opposite sex, to neither or to both.

If you’re attracted to people of the opposite sex, it’s called being straight (heterosexual). If you’re attracted to people of the same sex, it’s called being gay (homosexual).

Gay is a general term for men and women who are attracted to their own sex, but often used to describe men who like other men. A lesbian is a gay woman. If you’re attracted to both women and men, you’re probably bisexual. If you feel little or no sexual attraction to anyone, you could be asexual.

For many people, sexuality is more of a sliding scale than simply ‘straight or gay’. You can be attracted to someone of the same sex even though you don’t identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Perhaps you’re a woman who usually likes men, but you find yourself feeling attracted to another woman. That doesn’t mean you’re a lesbian. Your sexual orientation is the overall pattern of sexual and romantic attraction that you experience throughout your life.

Sexuality is complicated. You can’t choose your sexual orientation, but you can learn to understand it.

More articles on sexual orientation:

Confused about my sexuality

Can gays turn straight?

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