In our day and age, being of a sexual orientation other than heterosexual is somewhat common. Though it is definitely not considered a norm, it is more accepted in most parts of the world. A few years ago, people who were not heterosexual had to hide who they really were in order to be accepted by society. Because of this norm, one automatically assumes they are straight whether it comes to themselves or others. So how do homosexual/asexual people become conscious of their sexual orientation?
In the same way that gender is a spectrum, sexuality is a spectrum as well. There are four distinct sexualities. Heterosexual, or straight, people are attracted to members of the opposite sex. Bisexuals are attracted to members of both genders. Homosexuals are attracted to people of the same sex. Homosexuals can be called gay, for both genders, or lesbian, for females only. The last sexuality is asexual, in which there is no attraction to either sexes.
Psychologists say that sexuality is determined in the early stages of childhood but is not a conscious decision. Basically, people are born with their sexuality. That being said, many parents assume there might be something off about their child if they show interest in activities meant for the opposite sex. If their little girl doesn’t like to dress up and would rather play in the dirt, parents start to get suspicious. If their little boy likes dolls and is not all that interested in going outside or playing video games, parents think there’s a possibility of them being gay. But a very important thing to understand about sexuality is that there is no way to tell what sexuality someone is just by how masculine or feminine they are. That is because, like afore mentioned, gender is a spectrum. There are gay men that are very masculine but then some that are also extremely feminine. There are lesbians that seem like straight girls to others because they aren’t as masculine as the stereotypical lesbian. This applies to other sexualities as well. Straight men and women can also be very feminine or masculine, respectively. Personality and curiosity does not completely determine one’s sexuality.
Sexuality is not something that can be changed. People tend to suppress their feelings if they aren’t straight, but that does not change who they really are. Many think that going to therapy can ‘fix’ a gay/bi/asexual person, but that does not do anything either. It is not an illness, a mental disorder, or a problem of any sort. Just like being straight, it’s who they are. Trying to change someone has proven to be not only ineffective, but also possibly damaging. Nadine and Vinaini are straight, and they know this based on the pure fact that they aren’t attracted to girls. This wasn’t a hard thing for them to realize because that sexuality is what is expected. Both have straight parents, and a majority of straight friends. There was never a need for them to have to realize that they were something different, because according to society, they are normal. But someone who doesn’t feel anything for the opposite sex, or feels for everyone, or no one at all, how do they know?
After hearing the experiences of many internet sensations who have come out as being gay such as Connor Franta, Troye Sivan, and Tyler Oakley (major supporter of GSA [Gay Straight Alliance]), we learned that they always knew that they were a little different, supporting work by psychologists at the American Psychiatric Association. In Connor’s case, he was not able to pinpoint exactly what was different about him until he was 12 years old, when he just randomly thought, “What if I’m gay?” At 22, he did not come to terms with his sexuality until this year. Throughout high school, he dated girls to hide his sexuality, primarily lying to himself. Once he finally allowed himself to accept it, he realized that his friends and family would support him no matter what, and that was when he stopped suppressing his feelings. Connor hid his feelings in fear that people would treat him differently and rightly so.
People with an ‘uncommon’ sexuality are discriminated and hated against around the world. The U.S. is one of the most accepting countries for these people, but there are still hate crimes committed against them. Forget the crimes, gay people are not even allowed to openly serve in the U.S. military. Until recently, openly gay boys were not allowed in Boy Scouts. Even now, if the boys are all staying in the same area, the gay boys have to stay in a separate area. Learning about all these things would definitely add to a person’s confusion and cause them to suppress their emotions. Once social stigma against homo/bi/a-sexual people stops, they can be more comfortable with whom they are and the coming out process will be much easier. Once they realize what their feelings mean, the transition of their sexuality from subconscious to fully aware will become smoother and that is something we as a species should be aiming for.