Frequently Asked Questions About Sexuality
Your sexuality is as unique to you as your personality. No two people’s sexuality is exactly the same, although many people share similar types of sexual desires, appetites, and drive. Your sexuality is much like your personality is that it is an enduring part of you that doesn’t generally change much over time. Your sexual orientation is not something you can choose — it is an innate part of you that is determined at birth.
Our sexuality and sexual orientation is characterized by our affection and romantic attraction toward others.
Sexual orientation exists along a continuum or spectrum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. Bisexual persons can experience sexual and emotional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only). LGBTQ refers to the wide range of this spectrum — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.
Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Individuals may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors.
What Causes a Person To Have a Particular Sexual Orientation?
There are numerous theories about the origins of a person’s sexual orientation. Most scientists today agree that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. In most people, sexual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person’s sexuality.
It’s important to recognize that there are probably many reasons for a person’s sexual orientation, and the reasons may be different for different people.
Is Sexual Orientation a Choice?
No, human beings cannot choose to be either gay or straight. For most people, sexual orientation emerges in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. Although we can choose whether to act on our feelings, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.
Can Therapy Change Sexual Orientation?
No. Even though most LGBTQ people live successful, happy lives, some homosexual or bisexual people may seek to change their sexual orientation through therapy, often coerced by family members or religious groups to try and do so. The reality is that homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable. However, not all gay, lesbian, and bisexual people who seek assistance from a mental health professional want to change their sexual orientation. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people may seek psychological help with the coming out process or for strategies to deal with prejudice, but most go into therapy for the same reasons and life issues that bring straight people to mental health professionals.