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What is Sexuality?

Sexuality is the term used to describe how a person expresses their sexual identity. It concerns values and emotions and how you feel about yourself as well as sexual behaviour, who you are attracted to and how you choose to express that sexuality.

Sexuality is a complex area of human experience and is hard to pin down. More recently, sexuality is the term used to refer to sexual identity or the gender of the sexual partners we are attracted to. These can fall into 4 categories:

  • Straight (heterosexual) where a man is attracted to women or a woman is attracted to men.
  • Gay (homosexual) where a man is attracted to other men
  • Lesbian where a woman is attracted to other women
  • Bisexual where a man or a woman is attracted to both men and women.

Sexual identity is not necessarily fixed for life and is dependent on a combination of factors involving our individual nature and early interactions. It seems to be formed by the time we reach our teenage years, although it may not be until much later that we come to terms with and accept it.

Many people go through a stage around puberty of being attracted to others of the same sex and then increasingly being attracted to the opposite sex as they get older. Likewise, many gays, lesbians and bisexuals may initially consider themselves straight and only establish their true sexual identity later.

It is common for people at different life stages to be unsure of their sexual identity and some experiment with different partners in order to come to a decision. Whatever your sexual identity, it is better to wait to have sex until you are sure that you are with the person you really want to have sex with so that you retain respect for both yourself and the other person.

Coming Out

Establishing your sexual identity can be a complex and, at times, painful process, particularly if you realise that you are gay, lesbian or bisexual and may fear rejection from friends and family. Coming out entails accepting yourself and your sexuality first before considering who else to come out to. It is important, wherever possible, to choose who to come out to and how to do this and not to feel under pressure to do anything you do not feel comfortable with. One way might be to find sympathetic people to come out to first. You do not have to come out to everyone - your sexuality is your own business and you never need to apologise for it. There are a number of helplines and agencies as well as the University Counselling Service where you can talk through your thoughts and feelings about this in confidence first.

More information is available on the links page.

Sources of Help

  • Aids Helpline (24 hours) 0800 567123
  • BPAS (Pregnancy) 0845 730 4030 (8 am - 9 pm)
  • Brook Helpline 020 7617 8000 (Pre-recorded information)
  • Family Planning Clinic 01224 642711 (For appointment)
    Square 13, Golden Square 01224 644216 (Enquiries)
  • Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual 01224 633500 (Wednesday and Friday pm)
    Switchboard 020 7837 7324 (National - 24 hours)
  • National Aids Helpline 0800 567 123 (24 hours)
  • Relate 01788 573 241 (Relationship issues)
  • Samaritans 01224 574488
    0345 90 90 90 (24 hours)
  • Young People's 0800 0185 023 (9 am - 5 pm)
    Information Line
  • Sexwise 0800 28 29 30 (Free advice)

More information is available on the links page.

This page was last updated on Friday, 15-Aug-2014 11:20:33 BST

University Counselling Service · 5 Dunbar Street · Old Aberdeen · AB24 3UD
Telephone: (01224) 272139 · Email: counselling@abdn.ac.uk

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