Sexual orientation refers to the types of people we’re attracted to. This isn’t just about sexual attraction, but also romantic attraction: wanting to be in an intimate, romantic relationship with someone else.
There are many different sexual orientations:
- Straight/heterosexual: being attracted to people of the opposite sex
- Gay: being sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of the same gender
- Lesbian: women who are sexually and/or romantically attracted to other women
- Bisexual: being sexually and/or romantically attracted to both genders
- Pansexual: being sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of all genders and no gender
Illustration credit: https://www.instagram.com/loukoumh/
Some people aren’t sure about their sexual orientation, or find that it is fluid and changes over time. There is no right or wrong way to be: it’s ok to take your time and work out who you are attracted to and when you might want to tell people in your life about that. If you want more information about sexual orientation you can go to the LGBT Youth Scotland website.
Illustration credit: https://www.instagram.com/liberaljane/
Some people are not interested in having sex: this is called asexuality. Many Asexual people are still interested in romantic connections with people, even if they are not interested in having sex.
What about different types of relationships?
Most people choose to be in monogamous relationships (meaning you only have an intimate and sexual relationship with one person). However, some people may prefer open or polyamorous relationships (where people love or have sex with multiple partners, based on what each individual couple or group are comfortable with).
Is sexual orientation linked to your gender identity?
Sexual orientation and gender identity are separate things. You can be sexually or romantically attracted to the same or different genders regardless of how you identify. For example, a trans woman may identify as straight, lesbian, or bi/pansexual.
It is important to remember that gender identity does not equal gender expression; gender expression and identity does not equal your sexual orientation, sexual attraction or romantic attraction; and your sex does not equal your gender.
The Gender Unicorn does a great job at explaining the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity.
Illustration credit: https://transstudent.org/