In the United Kingdom, the term “gay” can be used to describe a distinct expression of sexuality. It means a person who is sexually or romantically attracted to another person of the same sex. Broadly speaking, this means men who are attracted to men, or women who are attracted to women.
The words “Gay” and “Lesbian” may also be used to differentiate between gay men and gay women, with “Gay” meaning men attracted to men and “Lesbian” meaning women attracted to women. The term “bisexual” (often shortened to bi) may be used to describe someone who is attracted to people of either sex.
How will I know if I am gay?
If you are experiencing new thoughts and feelings about different people, it can be difficult to understand what is going on or to know whether you are gay. Sexuality is very complicated and there are no right or wrong answers. Many young people experience a strong sense of attachment or attraction (a crush) on someone of the same sex; however this does not necessarily mean that they are gay. These crushes are an important part of puberty and will not always match with your sexuality orientation in adulthood. If you think that you might be gay, you may want to experiment with different people and see what you feel most comfortable with. This can help you to know whether or not you are gay.
Do I need to conform to stereotypes?
There are a lot of stereotypes about gay men and women, but these stereotypes are not always correct or fair. For example, stereotypes suggest that gay women tend to be masculine and gay men tend to act more feminine. However, this is not an accurate assumption and gay people can fall anywhere on the gender spectrum. Gay men can enjoy cars and sport, whereas gay women can still enjoy dresses and make-up.
There is also an assumption that gay relationships must always include a masculine person and a feminine person. Again, this assumption is not correct! Gay relationships in the United Kingdom can take on hundreds of different forms, as long as they are consensual. You do not have to change your personality to meet the stereotypes that society has created about gay people. Feel free to explore your new found identity in a lot of different ways.
Is “gay” an offensive word?
In British English, the word “gay” was originally used to mean “happy or carefree”. By the late 17th century, the term had begun to take on certain associations with sexual freedom. However, it was still often used to refer to heterosexual behaviours.
During the mid-twentieth century, the term started to develop stronger connotations with homosexuality, due to the stereotype that homosexual men were frivolous and uninhibited. Although many gay men were keen to move away from these negative stereotypes, the new usage of the term picked up in the mid-1960s. Most gay people preferred the term to “homosexual”, because “homosexual” was considered to be clinical and reminiscent of the fact that homosexuality was still considered to be a mental illness. The term “gay” is now widely used across the United Kingdom and is no longer considered to be offensive when it is used in the correct context. Like all words, it can be misused as part of hate speech.
Is it wrong to be gay?
Being gay is completely normal and you should not feel concerned if you start to feel attracted to people of the same sex. Your sexual identity is an important part of your personality, but it is not your defining feature. You are still the same person as you were before you considered your sexuality.
There is no “cure” for being gay, because it is not an illness or a health concern. The British government has recently taken additional steps to ensure that gay men and women in the UK are given the same relationship and family rights as heterosexual couples are given. As a gay person, you can lead a completely “normal” life.
What is homophobia?
Sadly, some people in the United Kingdom do still think that it is not normal to be gay. Gay people may experience prejudice which is known as “homophobia”. Thankfully, homophobia is uncommon and there are laws in place to punish people for this sort of discrimination. If you experience any prejudice at work because of your sexuality, you should report it to your manager or HR professional. If they fail to take appropriate action, you may be able to bring a case against your company. If you experience homophobia or prejudice outside of the workplace, you should report it to the police. There are also a number of charities in the UK which specialise in helping to support gay men and women.