LGBT+ refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, plus many other variations of gender and sexuality, including (but certainly not limited to) pansexual, asexual, intersex and non-gender binary. They're grouped together because although gender and sexuality are different things, they raise similar issues related to the perception of gender roles and prejudice in society. Many people in the LGBTQ+ Community are using the reclaimed slur of Queer to describe themselves. This is either because they identify as more than one (e.g. gay and trans) or that Queer doesn’t out them completely, it just lets people know that they are in the community.
If this describes you or a friend, you might find the information on this page useful.
I might be Gay/Bisexual/Pansexual
Being attracted to people of the same sex is a perfectly normal thing, as is feeling attracted to both males and females or being attracted to people regardless of their gender identity. Many people feel an attraction to people of the same sex at some point in their lives, or for all their lives.
So if your dream is getting married, having kids and settling down, being LGBT+ needn't stop that happening!
I might be Asexual
Some people find that they do not experience sexual attraction at all, and that is completely normal. Again, if you want to find a partner and settle down in the future then that option is still available to you. (more infomation Asexual)
An Asexual person is someone who does not experience any sexual attraction. This does not mean that an asexual person may not experience romantic attraction. Asexual people face a different set of challenges to most, and each asexual person has a different idea of what they feel comfortable with, or enjoy.
Im not sure about my Gender
Some people choose to transition their body to match their identity, but this isn't something everyone feels they want or need to do. The only important thing is that you are happy and comfortable in your own body.
You might feel that the terms 'gender neutral' better describe your gender, but you don't have to pick any label at all!
Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth. 'Trans' is often used as a shortened word for transgender.
Some trans people say they always knew; for others it's more of a gradual process. You are the only person who can decide if you're trans or not, but here are some signs that might help you figure it out:
- You don't feel comfortable with the idea of people seeing you as the biological sex you were assigned at birth.
- You dislike some, or all parts of your body, that have sex characteristics of the sex you were assigned at birth.
I think my friend might be LGBT+; how can i offer support?
If your friend isn't open about their sexuality or gender identity, or they haven't 'come out' to you, there are still things you can do to be supportive. Gay marriage, gay bishops, and LGBT+ celebrities always seem to be in the news, so there are many opportunities to casually mention how you are supportive of LGBT+ rights, how being LGBT+ is normal, etc.
If a friend tells you they are LGBT+, the best thing to do is to accept what they say, offer reassurance that it won't affect your friendship, and be clear that you'll support them and be there for them. There's a great list of ways to offer support on the Irish belongto website.
I don't want to label myself
You might identify as lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual, asexual, trans, straight, some other label, or none at all. Any of these are perfectly valid choices!
Sometimes labels can be useful to help you assert your identity or to help other people understand you, but they aren't great at reflecting the subtleties and variety of sexuality and gender that make up your personality.
It's easy for sexuality and gender to become awkward secrets, especially if the people around you make assumptions about you. Secrets can be a cause of stress and emotional pain, and can make you feel like you are being dishonest. However, you shouldn't feel you have to come out straight away, it's usually best to wait until you're ready. Sometimes people decide not to come out to certain people, particularly if they think that person will react negatively, which is ok too. The most important thing is to be comfortable with your identity, and with the people you decide to tell.
'Coming out (of the closet)' refers to telling someone else about something that was previously hidden, especially about your sexuality or gender identity. You may have to come out several times to friends, to family, maybe lecturers, or to work colleagues.
If you're thinking of coming out, you'll probably have many worries. But remember, you're not alone, there's some good support out there:
For further support: