Sexual Orientation


 Sexual Orientation...What is it?

Basically, Sexual orientation is who you are attracted to. Below is a list of definitions from the Egale website.  As you can see, there are a lot of definitions. Not everyone fits into all of the names and labels that are listed below. Labels aren't for everyone and it is always best to ask the person what they prefer to be called.  It is their choice after all!

Asexual - A person who does not experience sexual attraction or who has little or no interest in sexual activity.

Bisexual - A person who is attracted emotionally and sexually to both males and females.

Coming out - The process through which LGBT people recognize and acknowledge their non-heterosexual orientation and integrate this understanding into their personal and social lives.

Dyke - A derogatory word for a lesbian and/or for any woman who projects the role, appearance, attitudes, and/or behaviors that a culture traditionally assigns to males; also reclaimed by some to identify with varying notions of gender.

Faggot - A derogatory word for a gay male and/or for any man who projects the role, appearance, attitudes, and/or behaviors that a culture traditionally assigns to females; also reclaimed by some men to identify with varying notions of gender.

Gay - A person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to someone of the same sex and/or gender—gay can include both males and females, or refer to males only.

GLBTTQA - Standard acronym for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two spirit, questioning, and asexual people; variations exist, such as including an I for intersex and a second Q for queer.

Heteronomativity - A cultural/societal bias, often implicit, that assumes all people are straight and so privileges heterosexuality and ignores or underrepresents same-sex relationships.

Heterosexism - Prejudice and discrimination in favour of heterosexuality. This includes the presumption of heterosexuality as the superior and more desirable sexual orientation.

Homosexual - A person who is sexually and emotionally attracted to someone of the same sex. Because the term is associated historically with a medical model of homosexuality and can have a negative connotation, most people prefer such other terms as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Intersex - Refers to a person whose chromosomal, hormonal or anatomical sex characteristics fall outside the conventional classifications of male or female. Many people experience the designation of “intersex” as stigmatizing given the history of medical practitioners imposing the diagnosis on infants, children and young adults (some people may not be identified as “intersex” until puberty). As with all humans, gender identity for intersex individuals may be complex.

Lesbian - A female who is attracted emotionally and sexually to other females.

Out - Openly acknowledging one's sexual orientation or gender identity; may be partial (that is, out to some people and in the closet to others).

Pansexual - A person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to individuals of diverse gender expressions, identity or assigned sex.

Passing - A term for those who successfully assume a gender role and gender expression different than the one to which they were born or assigned at birth; also may refer to closeted gay, lesbian, or bisexual people passing as straight (please note that in some cultures, passing refers to successfully assuming a different racial/ethnic or cultural identity).

Perceived Sexual Orientation - The assumption that a person is lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight without knowing what their sexual orientation actually is. Perceptions about sexual orientation are often predicated on stereotypes relating to gender expression (e.g. what a straight man “should” look like).

Queer - Historically, a derogatory term for homosexuality, used to insult LGBT people. Although still used as a slur by some, the term has been reclaimed by some members of LGBT communities, particularly youth. In its reclaimed form it can be used as a symbol of pride and affirmation of difference and diversity, or as a means of challenging rigid identity categories.

Questioning - A person who is unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Two-Spirit – An Aboriginal person who has both male and female energy within themselves. Historically Two spirit persons were considered leaders amongst Aboriginal persons and were often shamans due to the great power they possessed.

Want more... For a more detailed list, please visit:

For a list of gender related terms, please visit our Gender Expression page:

Here is also a quick video of the difference between bisexual and pansexual from Arielle of Girlfriends TV.

Is it Normal ?

Passage from PFLAG North Bay

THE SHORT ANSWER: Yes. Being gay is as natural, normal and healthy as being straight.

No one knows exactly how human sexual orientation - gay or straight - is determined. Most experts think it's a matter of genetics, biology and environment - that a person's sexual orientation could be set before birth or as early as two or three years old.

Not only is it as natural, it's as healthy to be gay as to be straight - no matter what some people might tell you. The Canadian Psychiatric Association has declared that homosexuality is not a mental disorder or disease and the Canadian Psychological Association says that it would be unethical to try to change a gay person's sexual orientation.

Many other people besides scientists, psychologist and psychiatrists now understand that too. Ann Landers, the advice columnist, wrote: "It never ceases to amaze me that in this day and age, so many people fail to understand that homosexuality is not a lifestyle that is chosen. That 'choice' was made at birth."

So, if you're wondering why you're gay, lesbian or bisexual [or transgendered or two-spirited], the answer is that some people are gay, or gay to some degree, and some people are straight - just as some people have blue eyes and some people have brown eyes or some people are right-handed and some people are left-handed. Not all blue or brown-eyed people even have the same shade of blue or brown eyes. Some people have the ability to use the right hand and left hand with equal dexterity. In some countries, children are still being actively discouraged from writing with their left hands! Being gay, lesbian or bisexual is not something that anyone can choose to be or not to be. It's just one part of who you are.

Coming Out 

Coming Out can be liberating, exciting, and fulfilling. It can also be stressful - many glbttqa+ people fear rejection and hurting those they love.

Please see our Coming Out Resources page for further information including further resources and advice.

Guide to Resources

Curious? Coming Out? See our resources page.
Safety Considerations
Looking for info to share with Parents or others? 
Looking for more definitions. Here is the link to Egale's Glossary of terms.