At some point during puberty, or even before, we often begin to notice our sexuality. Whether or not we have the words to call it that or not doesn’t matter, but we begin to notice feelings and expressions of our sexual selves. Humans are sexual beings. It is healthy to have sexual desires and, in situations that are safe, comfortable, and respectful to yourself and anyone else involved, to act on those desires. There are as many different forms of sexuality for human beings as there are fingerprints. We are each one unique.
It is probably accurate to say that most of us are familiar with at least three types of sexual expression – heterosexual (male with female), homosexual (male with male or female with female), and bisexual (some one who has desires for a partner of either sex). But the truth is that sexuality goes beyond those labels and is much more complex. There are people who express their sexuality without having sex at all. In fact, anyone who identifies as a sexual being can express their sexuality without having sex if they so desire. There are also people who identify more with the opposite gender than from which they were born into, and may choose to live as that opposite gender outwardly as well. This is often called transgender. We could probably go on all day long describing the different ways in which people identify sexually, but there is really no need. What we do need to recognize is that there is no one way to be sexual, and to try to fit each of us into any kind of box of normal would be extremely difficult no matter if you are heterosexual or identify with any other form of sexual expression.
Healthy sexual expression comes from first respecting yourself. Ask yourself if you are acting in ways that make you feel good, safe, comfortable, and kind to your partner/s. Are you respecting how your partner/s feel about having sex with you, making sure that they aren’t pressured by you to do things they don’t desire or are not yet ready to do? Is your sexual partner at the age of legal consent? (If not, remove yourself from that situation and if this is an issue for you please seek help.) Are you a minor having sex with someone who is beyond the age of legal consent? (If so, please seek counseling from a trusted adult about your situation. If they are not a peer to you, remove yourself from the situation as best you can, and seek help.) Are you practicing “safer sex”? Is the type of sex you are having abusing your body? Are you acting on any unresolved issues from prior sexual abuse or trauma when you express yourself sexually instead of seeking the counseling or help you would like or need to receive? Are you being kind and loving to yourself in the form of sexual expression you seek?
It also may come about that religion or society will play a big role in how you feel about your sexuality. It is ok to have the desire to fit in. It is ok to explore how your faith changes or plays a role in how you express yourself sexually. It may at times be hard, but it can be beneficial to talk with clergy (pastor, reverend, priest, etc…) or a guidance counselor or therapist about any conflicts you might have with your sexuality. They may have some resources to help you explore what is right for you. It is important to remember though that those you seek help from should treat you kindly and respectfully throughout their time helping you and should keep your conversations confidential. If at any time you feel disrespected, it is most likely time to seek different help.
The It Gets Better Project is a good resource for LGBTQ youth to explore what their life might be like as an openly gay adult. GirlsHealth.gov has a wonderful resource for parents with tips on talking to your children about sex and sexuality.
It is ok to take time to explore what your preferences are when it comes to sex. Just make sure you are doing it in a healthy and safe way. Abstinence is the only way to prevent unwanted consequences of sex 100%. Know that you can explore your sexuality without engaging in risky sexual behavior. Our sexuality can be a gift to us, when we choose to view it as something to be respected, given as we desire, and reserved only to share with the people that deserve such a beautiful part of who we are.
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