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Sexual Orientation

My father asked if I am gay.
I asked, "Does it matter?"
He said, "No. Not really."
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Get out of my life!"
I guess it mattered.

My boss asked if I am gay.
I asked, "Does it matter?"
He said, "No. Not really."
I said, "Yes."
He said, "You're fired, faggot!"
I guess it mattered.

My friend asked if I am gay.
I asked, "Does it matter?"
He said, "Not really."
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Don't call me your friend!"
I guess it mattered.

My lover asked, "Do you love me?"
I asked, "Does it matter?"
He said, "Yes."
I told him I loved him.
He said, "Let me hold you in my arms."
For the first time something mattered.

My god asked me, "Do you love yourself?"
I said, "How can I love myself? I'm gay."
He said, "That's what I made you. Nothing else will ever matter again."

-Anonymous High School Student

There are many things about you and your life that you have chosen. Your friends, your favorite band, the shirt you put on this morning. But there are also lots of things about you that were decided before you were born. Your skin color, your last name, whether you're right handed or left handed, how tall you will be. And your sexual orientation.

We know that now.

But in the past people thought of homosexuality as everything from a sin, to a mental illness, to a "life style" choice. Sexual orientation is not any of those things.

People are born either heterosexual (sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex), or homosexual (sexually attracted to people of the same sex), or bi-sexual (sexually attracted to both sexes).

Why can't we accept gays?

In the U.S. there are about 10 million homosexuals - gays (men attracted to men) and lesbians (women attracted to women). Millions more live in every country on earth. Most of them are not living openly as homosexuals because society still does not accept them. Why do we have such a hard time accepting gays or lesbians? Because of ignorance.

Most intolerance comes from ignorance.

A fear of the unknown. A fear of something different. Some people do not believe that we are born with our sexual orientation. They are afraid that if children read about homosexuality or get to know someone who is homosexual, those kids will want to become homosexual themselves.

This makes no sense.

Consider the verbal and physical abuse some openly gay and lesbian teens get at school. According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Teachers Network:

  • 28% of gay and lesbian teens drop out of school
  • Every 35 minutes there is a teen suicide attempt related to sexual identity
  • 89% of gay youth abuse drugs

Not to mention the anger and rejection they often face at home when they try to talk about their sexual feelings with their parents.

  • 1 out of 4 gay teens is forced to leave home after coming out to parents; these kids swell the ranks of the homeless.

With these facts in mind, who in the world would "choose" to be gay?

Studies show that:

  • By far, most gays and lesbians have parents who are heterosexuals.
  • Gay parents are NOT any more likely to raise gay children.

Even if parents (who influence us more than we ever know) wanted to influence a child's sexual orientation, they couldn't. And neither can anyone else!

It's Not Easy Being... Different.

Adolescence is a time when being different in any way can be frightening. Knowing the kind of unfair treatment you are likely to get from many ignorant people makes being openly gay or lesbian even more frightening.

What about me?

If you suspect you are gay or lesbian, accepting this reality can be a painful, lonely, and confusing process. Sometimes you may feel like you are the only person in the world who has these feelings. You are worried that if you breathe a word to anyone, your whole world as you know it, family relationships, friendships could fall apart. Sometimes you might deny your feelings to yourself and lie to others as a way of being accepted. You may work very hard to act like everyone else, keeping an important part of yourself hidden.

Take a Chance.

As you begin to share this part of yourself with others perhaps you will feel less overwhelmed by your feelings. By preparing yourself for all the responses you are likely to get - from acceptance to rejection - you can begin the process of accepting your sexual orientation as one part of the complex and fascinating person you are.

Sexual orientation is only one part of who you are.

  • It is not your total identity. (Which is why sticking labels on people never works.)
  • You are still the same unique person you have always been. You still have all of your own skills, talents, and strengths.
  • Self-acceptance and your capacity to give and receive love, is vital no matter whom you choose to love.


"The real question is not whether you are gay or straight, but how you manage your relationships. It's who you are and how you feel about yourself that matters. Whether you love men or love women is, in the final analysis, not as important as the fact that you are able to love."

Rev. Robert H. Iles
Executive Director Marcliff Foundation



Need more information or help? Call the
Gay Youth Talkline 1-800 246-7743

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last updated November 19, 2005
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