If you've found this site because you're gay, think you're gay, or know someone who is, welcome! BB2G is here to support people from all walks of life – gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, pansexual, asexual, and anything in between. Being gay really is okay!
What Does Being Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered Mean?
(We'll interchangeably use the term "gay" when referring to those in the LGBT community.)
Here's a glossary of terms.
- Gay (slang for homosexual): originally used to mean sexual attraction to members of the same gender, but now tends to encompass all sexual orientations other than heterosexual
- Lesbian: a female who is sexually attracted to other females
- Bisexual: sexual attraction to both males and females
- LGBTQ: an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, etc!
- Pansexual: an individual who is open to sexual or romantic relationships with all genders and sexual orientations
- Asexual (also known as nonsexual): an individual who has no desire for sexual activity and may not identify with a sexual orientation
- Transgender: an individual whose physical gender does not match the gender of the mind; this can include transsexual individuals.
- Transsexual: an individual whose physical gender does not match the gender of the mind; these individuals usually seek surgical and/or hormonal treatment to change their physical gender characteristics.
What is Gender Identity?
Gender identity describes how a person feels about being male or female. This may be expressed through behavior, speech, hobbies, and clothes, and it may change over the years. Gender identity does not necessarily describe sexual orientation - a person's personality and characteristics are not necessarily an indication of their sexual orientation.
What is Sexual Orientation?
Sexual orientation refers to the gender to which people are emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted. Sexual orientation may take a long time to develop and it is not uncommon for individuals to experiment in order to decide what feels right to them.
Is Being Gay REALLY Okay?
Yes. Absolutely. Being gay is not a disease and it does not need "curing." You are who you are and that's perfect. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
How Do I Know If I'm Gay?
Sexual orientation is based upon long-term attractions, regardless of whether or not you've acted upon those feelings. Sexual orientation is not a choice; it is who you are and being gay is OKAY. It may take a long time to choose the proper label (if you so choose) to describe your sexual identity; that part is completely up to you.
How Did I Become Gay?
It is not known for certain how gender identity (along with all of the other things that make you uniquely you) develops. Research has led many scientists to believe that sexual identity is determined by a complex combination of genetic, biological, social and psychological factors.
Can I Stop Being Gay?
Some groups promote "anti-gay" campaigns and claim that being gay is a lifestyle choice, while asserting that the LGBT individual needs to change. In fact it's those very groups, political beliefs, and attitudes regarding the gay community that need to change, as attempts to change sexual identity aren't helpful - they're hurtful. In fact, reparative therapies to "cure gayness" have been scientifically proven by the American Psychological Association to not work and actually cause harm.
What Is Bigotry?
Bigotry refers to negative feelings and attitudes towards other people. When these feelings and attitudes focus on those who are gay, the term homophobia is used. This type of bigotry can be displayed through discrimination, harassment, bullying, physical violence, offensive slurs, and refusal to be around gay people. Homophobia can clearly be very dangerous.
It's an unfortunate fact that most minority groups have struggled at some point to fit into society. With that said, many minority groups throughout history became more accepted and mainstream with time. Hopefully homophobia will soon be a thing of the past.
Coming Out Of The Closet:
Making the plunge and telling friends and family about your sexual orientation can be a very daunting prospect. Some individuals in your life might not be very receptive to the news and this can be disappointing and even heartbreaking. Remember: physical safety comes before everything else. If coming out of the closet would put your well-being into danger, it is absolutely okay to wait until you are older or have lined up a safe place in which to retreat.
There's a lot to think about when it comes to telling your loved ones that you are gay. There are no hard and fast rules for how to come out for the first time or to whom. In fact, the decision to come out can require a lot of forethought. Acceptance, even from the most loving, understanding and caring friends and family, may take a while.
It's a good idea to start off by seeking out a semi-anonymous network of support like Band Back Together and other online groups (see the list of resources below) that can offer information and advice in a safe and open manner. You can then talk with those in your life who have come out themselves, or "test the waters" by mentioning homosexuality in conversation with family and friends (perhaps by discussing a celebrity who happens to be gay). Those around may be surprisingly accepting or already have an inkling as to your sexual orientation. Regardless, you can then make an informed decision as to whether coming out of the closet has more benefits than costs. If the potential costs outweigh the benefits, you will be glad to have your online support network to fall back upon until the time is right.
Many people who have come out to friends and loved ones feel lighter, while others suffer disappointment from those who are not accepting. Coming out is a personal decision - when and how is up to you.
Gay Teens and Suicide:
If you are in crisis, please, please reach out. IT GETS BETTER. Call 911 for all emergencies.
1-866-4.U.TREVOR [866.488.7386] is a 24x7 hotline for LGBT youth. Calls are confidential and toll-free from anywhere in the United States.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
If you're a LGBT teen or know someone who is, it is important to educate yourself about the warning signs of suicide. LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. LGBT youth are more likely to be bullied, harassed and assaulted than their straight peers. According to The Trevor Project, signs of suicide can include:
- Increased isolation from family and friends
- Alcohol or drug use increases
- Expression of negative attitude toward self
- Expression of hopelessness or helplessness
- Change in regular behavior
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Giving away valued possessions
- Expression of a lack of future orientation (i.e. "It won't matter soon anyway")
- Expressing suicidal feelings
- Signs of depression
- Describes a specific plan for suicide
- History of suicide in the family
- A person who has been extremely depressed in the past may be at an increased risk for suicide if the depression begins to cease, as they may now have the psychological energy to follow through on a suicidal ideation.
Hotlines for LGBT:
Gay & Lesbian National Hotline: 1-866-4-U-TREVOR
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation: (212) 629-3322
LGBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-PRIDE (1-800-246-7743)
Related Resources on Band Back Together
The Trevor Project - The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including our nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment.
GLBT National Community - The GLBT National Help Center provides free and confidential support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people, and those with questions about sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a national support network, education and advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, their families, friends and allies.
GLBT Near Me provides a collection of local resources, community centers, social support, and other resources for GLBT all across the US.
It Gets Better offers support and hope for LGBT youth who may be suffering from discrimination and bullying.
National Coalition for LGBT Health is an organization that is dedicated to the health and well-being of LGBT individuals through the use of research, policy, education, and training.
The Asexual Visibility and Education Network -Provides information and resources for those who are asexual.