Sexual orientation Gay and Lesbian Issues
Let’s Talk About Sex
We are all sexual – young, old, married, single, with or without physical disability, sexually active or not, hetero sexual homosexual bi-sexual, lesbian, trans-sexual or transgender. Every survey of human sexuality shows that there is a huge range of sexual expression. It rarely falls into neat labels and can be as varied and as individual as the food we eat or the way we dress.
Firstly, just to say that sexual activity, whether its thoughts, deeds, words or feelings, are a normal part of human experience. On the other hand if you are very stressed, or working very hard or just not interested in anybody at the moment it’s also normal not to have any sexual desires, thoughts or feelings.
Lately sexuality has come to have a limited meaning where your sexuality is defined by the gender of the sexual partner you choose. We know that there are straight, gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender young people in our lecture halls. If you experience conflict or confusion about your sexual identity you may find this web page helpful.
You can get further information from the links we provide or come and talk in confidence to the counsellors in the DIT.
Educate yourself – some definitions
Bisexual: A person who is attracted to both genders. Sometimes it is referred to as omnisexual or pansexual.
Coming out: This usually refers to non-heterosexual people and refers to the process of discovering and identifying themselves as gay lesbian bisexual or transgender.
Cross Dressing/ Transvestite: Wearing the clothes of the “opposite” sex for comfort, preference, or sexual encounters.
Dyke: This used to be a derogatory slang word for a lesbian but of late lesbians are taking ownership of the word and using it as a proud and positive word with which to identify them selves.
Gay: This usually refers to homosexual men but is often used as an umbrella term to describe the whole LGBT community.
Heterosexual: A person who is sexually attracted to a person of the “opposite” sex.
Intersexed; A person born with ambiguous genitals. Most do not possess both sets of genitals but a mixture of both. Formerly they were called hermaphrodites.
Lesbian: A woman who is attracted to other woman.
LGBT(IQ); The initial letters of - Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender, Intersex and Queer.
Rainbow Flag: This is a flag designed by Gilbert Baker and adopted by the LGBTIQ movement as a symbol of gay identity.
Queer: This was once a derogatory slang word used to identify gay people. The LGBT community has since reclaimed the word as a positive word and use it to describe themselves.
Sexual Orientation: This refers to whether one is attracted to people of the same sex, the opposite sex or to both.
Straight: A person who is erotically attracted to the opposite sex.
Transgender: This term is used in two ways
1 It describes people whose psychological self or gender identity differs from the social expectation for the physical sex they were born into.
2. It is an umbrella term to describe those who view gender and biological sex not as polar opposites but as a continuum. They include cross-dressers, masculine woman, feminine men, those who undergo hormone treatment and those whohave sex reassignment surgery. It is not a sexual orientation.
This describes a process where people identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer or a combination of these identities. Coming out happens in different ways and at different ages for different people. A study in Northern Ireland found that the average age for a young man to realise he was LGBT(IQ) is 12 and for a young woman it is 13. but it found that the average age at which a young man tells anyone is 17 while the average age for a young woman to disclose this fact is 18. ( YouthNet 2003),
The first person you have to Come out to is yourself. This involves accepting and acknowledging to your self that you are LBGTIQ. Many students coming to college are at ease with their sexuality and many look forward to college as the first opportunity to be open about their sexuality. If you are experiencing confusion or difficulty about your sexual orientation then there are many places to turn to for help. You can contact the LGBT society in the DIT -PUT IN LINK-or contact your counsellor. LINK. OUThouse in Capel Street LINK (www.OUThouse.ie) is the LGBT community centre in Dublin. It offers a place to socialise, meet others in the same position as yourself or talk to a counsellor.
The second stage of coming out is telling others about your sexuality. You don’t have to take this step unless you want to and are ready to. In many ways it is nobody’s business but your own how you chose to express your sexuality provided it is between consenting adults.
Why come out?
Our society assumes everyone is straight (heterosexual) and trying to hide your sexuality from others can be very stressful. When you are deciding about coming out you must weigh up the pros and cons and decide what is best for you. as every individual has their own life circumstances to contend with. Think about your own safety and the risks involved. However many people feel great relief when they tell someone and feel that now people can get to know the ‘real’ you.
Hints on Ways to come out
- You can just come out to yourself.
- You can tell someone else. Pick someone you know is open minded and caring so that they are least likely to be shocked. A counsellor can be a good person to start with. On the other hand you might choose a good friend, a family member, or someone at college. Many people choose to come out on line as this affords them anonymity and allows them to test the waters.
- You can start living openly bringing your partner with you to events or dressing in the clothing that most fits your gender or sex identity.
- You can write a letter which gives the person you are coming out to time to digest the information and react in a positive way.
Points to remember when you are coming out
- It’s your life and you know what’s best for you so don’t let anyone pressurise you into coming out.
- Think about what you want to say and pick the person, time and place carefully.
- Remember this may come as a surprise for the other person.
- Be prepared for a negative reaction from some people.
- Talk to the other person honestly and tell them why it is important for you to come out to them.
- Remind them that you are still the same person they knew yesterday.
- Listen to what the other person has to say.
- It’s ok not to be “out” everywhere.
- Make sure you have a supportive person to turn to if it goes badly. Your college counsellors can be very helpful in this situation.
Anyone who is sexually active, no matter what their orientation, should learn how to protect both themselves and their partner. Our health centres are a mine of information. You can talk to the nurses or Doctor in confidence and remember the service is free
In addition they run confidential STI testing and advice. They also offer regular and emergency contraception
Phone: 014023051 Mon to Fri 9.00am – 5.00pm
DIT LGBT society http://www.ditlgbt.com/
Gay community news www.gcn.ie
Outhouse Dublin’s community and resource centre for LGBT www.outhouse.ie