Am I gay?
Many people feel attracted to people of the same sex, and wonder whether this means that they are gay. For some people these feelings can be very intense and alienating, whilst some people are more comfortable with these feelings earlier on. Some people who ask themselves the question "am I gay?" are indeed attracted primarily to members of the same sex, and go on to have gay sexual relationships. People sometimes find that their feelings change over time.
Some people are bisexual, meaning they are attracted to both men and women, and at different times, have relationships with both. Some people are not attracted to anyone and wonder if this is a sign that they are gay. Often it is only time that will resolve these uncertainties.
When do people know that they are gay?
There is no simple answer to this question, as it varies from person to person. Becoming aware of gay or bi-sexual feelings often happens gradually, it may not be something you can initially put a name to, and it can feel very confusing.
During research carried out with young gay men, the men interviewed described a set of feelings which they gradually realised made them 'different' in some way, feelings they thought maybe every teenage boy has.
“I thought, well, this is just the phase bit. Sooner or later I'm going to start finding women attractive. I never did. As I became more attracted to men, and I still wasn't getting attracted to women, I thought, shit, you're gay. And it was really quite a shock when it hit me.”Luke
With time, someone who is gay will realise that not only are they sexually attracted to members of the same sex, but that this attraction is not transitional, or as often described 'just a phase'. This realisation could come at any time during their lives. Many people become aware of gay feelings during their teenage years, as this is when they begin to learn more about their sexuality and identity.
However, the difficulties associated with accepting these feelings and coming out mean that many gay people don't identify themselves as gay until later on in life.
"After college I spent nearly 15 years trying to deny to myself who I was...a gay man. Finally, at age 38 I began to accept the fact that I was gay."