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What is sexual orientation?

Bonnie Lynn Wright, PhD
Geriatrics Nursing

Sexual orientation refers to whom you are sexually attracted as opposed to what social role you play. There are many books, journals and websites that can answer this question. They will all essentially say just that. There are many terms to describe every eventuality; gay, lesbian, bi, and so on. The answer published by the Boston Women`s Health Book Collective has an excellent list.

Sometimes the real question is not what is sexual orientation but rather how do I know what my sexual orientation is. If you are asking that question, then you already have some sense of potentially being something other than heterosexual, which is most common. It is very healthy to be sufficiently aware of yourself and to ask those questions. Find a reliable and confidential resource to help guide you as you find your own answers. There are organizations, counselors, even friends and relatives that could help and would be willing to do so.

Sometimes people do not know enough about their feelings to ask those questions. They have been raised in an environment that does not allow alternatives to heterosexuality and so have never permitted other feelings or thoughts to enter into their conscious mind. They may live their whole lives without ever exploring their real selves. Hopefully, eventually, as they mature, these folks will find themselves at a stage of self-discovery and in a sufficiently tolerant environment where they can shed social pretense and embrace their reality, whatever that may be.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.