Sexuality refers to all aspects of sexual behaviour and human sexuality is a complex and personal thing.

Your sexuality relates to the gender of the partner(s) we choose: whether we like people of the same gender or another gender, or more than one gender, or do not feel sexual attraction at all.

Sexuality rarely falls in to neat categories and at times we may experiment with different aspects of our sexuality. Labels such as 'gay', 'lesbian', 'bisexual' or 'transgender' are only shorthand ways of identifying very personal issues and you may or may not accept such words for yourself.

Coming out to yourself

Before you come out to other people it is important that you come out to yourself. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Some people feel sure of their sexual orientation from an early age and come out to themselves and others without difficulty and take pride and pleasure in the process. Others gradually become aware of their orientation. Some find it a frightening and confusing process. Organisations such as Stonewall and Gay Switchboard can help.

Coming out to other people

Coming out to others is a choice and you will need to think about this carefully. Some people in your life may take time to get used to what you tell them and, sadly, some people may never come to terms with it. It is important that you take your time and some of the following ideas might help:

  • Start with people who you trust and who you feel will be sympathetic.
  • Make choices about who you tell, you do not have to tell everyone if you do not want to.
  • Try not to make assumptions about other people, in particular do not assume that others are or are not homophobic.
  • If you get what feels like a negative reaction at first try not to be put off, remember these reactions have more to do with them than with you.
  • Choose how and when you tell people.
  • Do not feel guilty or ashamed.

Looking after your sexual health

Sexually transmitted diseases are increasing across the general population so it is important for everyone to take care of their physical and sexual health. See healthcare for information on sexual health care in York, including where to get free sexual health supplies.

Sexual health is particularly important for gay men due to the risk of HIV infection. Organisations such as Mesmac can help.