What does being
gay mean?

That's not an easy question to answer because sexuality can be divided into three parts:
  1. Sexual orientation
  2. Sexual behaviour
  3. Sexual identity
While sexual behaviour and sexual identity are mostly under our control, sexual orientation is not. People don't choose to be gay, bisexual, or straight. Most new research suggests that sexual orientation has biological causes. People can't be taught to be gay or straight-they just feel naturally one way or the other. We don't learn our sexual orientation-we just are. This means that if you're gay, bisexual or straight, it wasn't caused by your mother or your father or whether you played football or practiced ballet or whether you had sex early or not at all, or whether you masturbate or whether you don't or anything else. Sexual orientation is biological. Just as we can't control our blood type (some people are A, some are B some are AB and some are O), we can't control our sexual orientation. If someone forced an A type blood person to become B and gave them B blood by injection, they might become seriously sick.

Unlike sexual orientation, sexual behaviour is mostly within our control. If someone forces us to have sex, then it's not within our control (this is rape or sexual assault and it's against the law in industrialized nations). But whether we choose (or choose not) to have sex with our partner, the choice is ours. People decide all the time, if they want to have sex with their boyfriends or girlfriends their wives or husbands or significant others or whether they want to wait-the point is, the choice is ours. That means we shouldn't allow others (boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.) to pressure us into having sex when we're not ready.

Sometimes, people experiment with their sexual behaviour. Sometimes a straight guy may have sex with another guy. This doesn't necessarily mean that both are gay. In fact, many teens have sex with people their own gender. Many guys who are sexually experimenting are not gay-their main attraction is still towards women. On the other hand, some gay people are afraid to tell others that they're gay and when they grow up, they may get married and have kids. A guy like this may only have sex with his wife and yet, his sexual orientation may not be straight. So our sexual behaviour may be different from our sexual orientation. However, it's best when the two are the same.

Sexual identity is how we see ourselves. It's a combination of our sexual orientation and our sexual behaviour. When the two are the same, a healthy sexual identity is more likely but when the two are different, some challenges can result. Here's what I mean. If someone has a homosexual orientation and has fantasies about other guys especially when masturbating but only tries to have sex with women because he's afraid people will think he's gay, this guy could become very confused and even depressed. Sometimes, gays don't like themselves because they think they are bad or evil. Many times, this is the result of misinformation about gays.

Many teens are unhappy that they might be gay because of the stereotypes about other gays. Some people believe that all or most gays are pedophiles (people who like to sexually abuse children). This is wrong. Most pedophiles are not gay! More than 98% of all convicted pedophiles are straight. In fact, very few pedophiles are gay.

Many people think that all or most gays are very promiscuous (especially with people they don't even know). Again, this isn't true. Sure, there are some gays who have had many sexual partners but there are also straight guys who have had lots of women partners. Just as there are straight people who are promiscuous so too are there gay people who are promiscuous. This doesn't mean, however, that all or even most gays are promiscuous. Just as there are many married people in monogamous relationships so too are there many gays in committed long term monogamous relationships.

Some people even believe that all or most gays are wimps and talk with a lisp and are effeminate. This is not true. Again, there are some gays who are like this, just as there are some straight guys who are like this. In one scientific study, people couldn't tell the difference between gays and straights. Gays blend in with nongays. Most likely then, no body knows that you may be gay (unless you've told them of course). Very likely, you know many gays but they just haven't told you. As an example, at the local high school near where I live, there are over 1,500 students. Because gays and bisexuals make up over 10% of the population, at least 150 students at the local school may be gay or bisexual. The same is probably true at your school. So you're not alone. Other teens likely feel the same way you do.

How do I
know if I'm gay
for sure?

Our sexual identities develop over time. Sometimes, it's hard to know for sure if we're gay or just bisexual when we're young. This isn't surprising because there are many changes happening to our body. Young teens can even get erections for no reason, this is because our hormones are very strong and our sexual attractions may not be directed toward any particular person or situation. As guys get older they tend to figure out who they are really attracted to.

Over time, straight guys naturally become attracted to women. They don't have to work at it or force it. It just happens. The same is true for gay guys. They become naturally attracted to other guys. They don't have to work at it. It just happens. Some guys try to force or pretend to like women because they may be afraid of being gay. However, this won't make a guy straight but it may make him confused.

To get a good idea if you may be gay or bisexual, ask yourself the following questions: When I fantasize, do I think mostly about girls or mostly about guys? Have I had a crush on another guy? Have I masturbated thinking about other guys? Am I forcing myself to like girls because I'm afraid people may think I'm gay?

What should I do
if I'm very unhappy
about myself?

It's sad but more gay teens kill themselves than any other group! Why? Well, it's very complicated but many straight teens are homophobic. Many parents are homophobic. Many other family members are homophobic too. And many churches, synagogues and temples are also homophobic. Some make fun of gays, some even try to beat them up (gay bashing). However, most large cities have suicide hotlines. You can find their elephone numbers in the phone book under 'suicide hotline' or 'crisis intervention' or 'distress centre'. Most large cities have gay community centres and/or info lines. Many distress centres know the phone numbers of these places and can refer callers. Guidance counsellors at school can be really helpful when people are very confused. They're good at keeping secrets so there's no need to worry that the whole school will know if you tell them. Sometimes, a favourite teacher is good for help as well. Keep in mind that homosexuality is NOT a sickness. It is NOT a disease. However, homophobia is! Sadly, some gay guys are homophobic even though they are gay. They hate themselves and hate that they are gay. If this sound like you, talk with someone soon! Book an appointment with your doctor or your school counsellor. No one should hate themselves. THERE IS HELP AVAILABLE. If you have no one to talk to, please, email me. I check my e-mail every day.

How do I
find out more
about gays?

The best thing to do is to start reading. Reading books, magazines or reading on the net as you are now is a great place to start. Most public libraries have only a very small section of gay positive books so a large bookstore may be better. Some large cities even have gay bookstores. It's best to have a book recommended to you (I list several at the end). Nothing is worse than buying a book and then finding out it's written by a homophobe. Sometimes, ordering books through the mail is also a good idea. As well, many large cities have gay youth groups. These are great places to meet gay friends your own age.

What about sex?

Some young guys while they know they feel attracted to other guys don't know what gays do together sexually. In fact, you may be scared about having sex. This is very normal! If this is the case, it's often best to wait having sex until you're older. It's not a good idea to start having sex when you're not ready. You'll have the rest of your life to enjoy the privilege of having sex with that special person, so there's no need to rush right now. Some people think it's good for guys to first learn more about their own bodies and what makes them feel good before they start exploring the bodies of other people. Instead of having sex, it may be better to enjoy the pleasures of your own body alone. However, some guys feel very uncomfortable masturbating. If you feel guilty after masturbating, you may feel very guilty after sex, so it's probably a good idea to wait. I personally think sex is best between two people who love each other and are a part of a life-long relationship-it becomes a special expression between you and that special someone in your life.

Some teens think that having gay thoughts or 'doing it' could give them AIDS. This is not true. But if you are sexually active there can be the risk of AIDS, but only if your partner is infected. Keep in mind that just as you can't tell if someone has a cavity inside their mouth you also can't tell if someone has AIDS or the HI retro-virus that most people believe causes AIDS. If people could tell, there wouldn't be a need for an AIDS test would there? Not even trained doctors treating patients with AIDS can tell if someone is infected until they are first tested. Currently AIDS is incurable and because it is a very complex, sophisticated retro-virus, it likely won't be cured in the very near future. This observation is not to scare you but only to say that prevention is very important!

So how can I
protect Myself?

Don't shoot up with drugs. Don't have anal intercourse. Almost all the cases of AIDS are caused through infected needles or anal intercourse. In fact, it is believed that 98% of all the AIDS cases transmitted sexually are caused by anal intercourse. Again, anal intercourse itself is not bad, but if you have anal intercourse with someone who's infected, you stand a good chance of becoming infected yourself.

Don't shoot up with drugs. Don't have anal intercourse. Almost all the cases of AIDS are caused through infected needles or anal intercourse. In fact, it is believed that 98% of all the AIDS cases transmitted sexually are caused by anal intercourse. Again, anal intercourse itself is not bad, but if you have anal intercourse with someone who's infected, you stand a good chance of becoming infected yourself.

Most other sexual activity is less risky. This doesn't mean that people haven't gotten AIDS from oral sex or vaginal sex because they have. Therefore, using a latex condom correctly makes these activities much safer. Remember, using a condom does NOT make the sex safe, it just makes it safer. There is a big difference between safe and safer! This means that you should always wear latex condoms from an undamaged condom wrapper. You should also make sure that the condom hasn't yet passed the expiration date-after the date, condoms can rip rather easily. Remember, other things also cause condoms to rip including heat. Therefore, never keep condoms in your wallet or in the dash of a car and always use a new condom. Never reuse a condom. Also, not all condoms are the same. Some have a reservoir tip at the end to collect the semen (which contains the sperm). If condoms don't have a tip and the end, you should leave some room at the end to collect the semen. If you pull a condom on too tight then it could rip when you ejaculate. Sometimes, it's good to practice using a condom several times before you plan to use it for real. That way, you know how it feels and now how to use it properly. If you feel uncomfortable buying a condom at a store, it may be best to wait having sex until you're older.

So what if I'm
AM gay, whom
should I tell?

More and more gay teens are learning to feel better about themselves. As you start to listen to your feelings and learn more about what it means to be gay, you'll begin to feel comfortable with your sexuality. Therefore it's important to grow. Growth usually comes through learning and other people are often good teachers. Be careful however! Once you tell someone, you can't untell them. Telling parents is particularly difficult. If you live at home and rely on your parents for food, shelter, clothing, allowance, etc., be careful! Because many parents are homophobic, they can be abusive! However, if you suspect that your parents are not homophobic, telling them can often be a big help. They could turn out to be wonderful resource and support people. Remember, like your sexual behaviour, telling others is your choice. Do your homework first. P-FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) have excellent brochures including one on how to come out right to others. They also have excellent information about homosexuality and the Bible.


Alyson, Sasha. ed. Young Gay and Proud! Boston: Alyson Publications. 1995.

The first book to ever address the needs of the often invisible gay teenager. The book helps teens to deal with questions like: Am I really gay? What would my friends think if I told them? Should I tell my parents? Other parts of the book address health concerns; sexuality. Suggestions for further reading are also included.

Fricke, Aaron. Reflections of a Rock Lobster. Boston: Alyson Publications.1981.

An autobiographical novel about a gay teenager who fights to bring his boyfriend to his high school prom. Eventually, Fricke is forced to take his case to trial and in the process gains state-wide notoriety. The author recalls his struggles and his eventual triumph by coming out of the closet.

Helminiak, Daniel A. What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. San Francisco: Alamo Square Press. 1994.

Next to my own book, which I hope to have published by Christmas 1996, this is the best book on the subject! As a Roman Catholic priest, with two terminal degrees, Helminiak writes a fresh, yet easy to read book for the lay Christian. He addresses both Old and New Testament passages and does so with keen insight. I have used this book in a Christian men's study group and found it to be an excellent resource. Again, this book may be a bit too difficult for the young teen in public school but may be suitable for high school students familiar with the Bible.

Heron, Ann. ed. One Teenager in 10: Writing by Gay and Lesbian Youth. Boston: Alyson Publications. 1983.

Heron edits a collection of writings by gay youths. Each autobiographical story details the harsh experiences endured because of a homosexual orientation. Collectively, the stories echo narratively what several studies have proved statistically, namely that half of all teenagers who report physical injury because of their homosexuality list a family member as the perpetrator.

Jennings, Kevin. ed. Becoming Visible: A reader in gay and lesbian history for high school and college students. Boston: Alyson Publications. 1994.

Maybe a bit challenging for the younger teen but an excellent book about the history of gays and lesbians in premodern and modern societies. The third section of the book examines gays and lesbians in the 1980s and 1990s.

Ratti, Rakesh. ed. A Lotus of Another Color. Boston: Alyson Publications. 1993.

Gay and lesbians from India, Pakistan, and other South Asian countries recount their stories of coming out. In essays and poetry, they tell of challenging prejudice from both the South Asian and gay cultures, and they express the exhilaration of finally finding a sense of community.