With the visibility of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people in American society, questioning one’s sexual orientation is becoming more common. Although such questioning is usually associated with adolescents, some adults engage in questioning after years of living a heterosexual life and maintaining a heterosexual identity. For some, the period of questioning is brief. For others, it lasts for months or years.
There are multiple reasons why you might question your sexual orientation. Those reasons include:
No matter how old you are or why you question your sexual orientation, this guide can help you understand yourself better. I wrote it after searching books and the Internet for such a guide. What I found was plenty of guidance for gay people who face the challenges of coming out to others and living openly, but minimal guidance for people who are questioning their sexual orientation.You may have looked online for a "gay test" (or lesbian test or bisexual test) that would answer your question about your sexual orientation. If so, perhaps you noticed they are usually humorous quizzes for based on stereotypes. If you tried the more serious attempts at a test and found them unhelpful, you've come to the right place.
This guide is based on my work as a psychologist who teaches a college course about sexual orientation and who counsels clients who want to clarify their sexual orientation. In order to clarify your sexual orientation, there is a lot you need to know about sexual orientation itself as well as the identity development process that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people experience. And there is much evidence from your life to gather and examine. With so much information to consider, I have divided this guide into seven parts:
You may be quite eager to settle the question, “What’s my sexual orientation?” Perhaps your answer will come after a single reading of this guide, or you may discover that you need more evidence. Alternatively, you may be hesitant to settle the question if the thought of being anything other than heterosexual evokes anxiety. I honor whatever feelings you bring to the process of clarifying your sexual orientation.
Let’s continue with a basic question that we’ll explore in Part 1: “What is Sexual Orientation?”