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Do These Feelings Automatically Mean I'm Gay?

Published: March 14, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I am a boy and I have a friend who I will call Alex (not his real name). He's basically my world. We've been friends since Kindergarten and I feel like I can relate to him more than I can relate to anyone else. There have been times when I have been so upset and Alex has been there to hug me and comfort me when no one else did or just brushed it off to the side. But now I think I'm starting to see him in a new light. Sometimes I see him as my best friend, but other times I see him as so much more. There are times when I look at him and I just want to hold him and kiss him all over his face. We have had sleepovers before and there have been times when I've just wanted to cuddle him and just fall asleep that way. There have been times when I want to ask him out. Last year we went to a school dance together as just friends but honestly inside I got butterflies in my stomach because I liked him so much. Do these feelings automatically mean I'm gay, or is it just puberty? I've never felt this way before towards girls, but then again I consider this my first real "crush."
Signed: Do These Feelings Automatically Mean I'm Gay?

Dear Do These Feelings Automatically Mean I'm Gay?,

Many teens find themselves in the position of trying to figure out if they are gay or trying to make sense out of a crush on a same-sex friend. In order to help you with your question, TeenHealthFX has provided some answers to similar questions below.

 

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation:

How do I know if I'm gay, bisexual, or lesbian?

Knowing and understanding your sexual orientation can take a lot of thought, and sometimes talking to a trusted adult or counselor can help you to understand your feelings better.

Everyone experiences their sexual orientation differently – some people know when they are very young that they are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Others don't realize this until later on.

Many teens are unsure about their sexual orientation, so don't panic! There are many supportive people and groups out there that can help you feel comfortable with whatever sexual orientation you have.

Keep looking for someone you trust, such as your parents, a school teacher or counselor, or some other adult you are close to.

Does a single experience define my sexual orientation?

No, many teens have had sexual experiences with the same sex but do not consider themselves bisexual, gay, or lesbian. Sexual orientation refers to someone's sexual preferences, the consistent pattern of sexual arousal towards one or both genders.

This includes fantasies, conscious attractions, emotional and romantic feelings, and sexual behaviors. Sexual behavior simply refers to what you have done sexually – someone can be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or straight regardless of their sexual behavior.

 

Teen Vogue:

 Teen Vogue’s sex educator Lena Solow wrote the following for those who are questioning their sexuality or wondering if they are gay:

Your feelings for one particular person don’t necessarily dictate your sexuality. The reality is, sexuality isn’t so easily compartmentalized, and there isn’t one sign that means you’re gay or you aren’t — you might feel sure at times, uncertain at times, or feel sure about an identity and then have it change. That being said, if you have a feeling about being something other than straight, don’t push it aside because of fear. So what if you are gay? Being gay is great!

So what do you do now? Learn more about all the identities out there — as a young person, I was certain I had to be clearly more attracted to men or women. This didn’t account for the existence of genderqueer people, and also didn’t account for identities outside of lesbian or straight, such as queer, bisexual, or pansexual. Take your time — there’s no rush to pick or stick with a label if it doesn't resonate with you. It’s also okay if you identify with something and then later realize that it wasn’t quite right or that you now feel differently. You always deserve to have your identity respected.

 

If you continue to struggle with these issues, and/or need some help with how to handle your feelings for your friend, TeenHealthFX recommends that you speak to a trusted adult such as a parent/guardian, school counselor or extended family member. You might also consider speaking to a therapist if you need some help in processing your feelings or figuring this out, or if this is causing you any distress and you need some guidance in how to cope with what is going on for you. And no matter what you decide about your sexual orientation, know that you are deserving of kindness and respect from others!

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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