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I’m gay, lesbian or bisexual and don’t want to be. Can I change my sexual orientation?

Your sexual orientation is something that is part of you—just like the color of your eyes and the shape of your nose. You can’t change your sexual orientation. In a society where lesbian, gay and bisexual people still do not feel accepted, this can be difficult to hear. That’s why it’s important to find a trusted adult to talk through what you’re feeling. If you can’t or don’t accept a piece of yourself, it can affect all areas of your life. Coming to terms with how you feel and integrating it into who you are is a difficult process, and regardless of orientation, it’s usually a process that requires support along the way.

You might also be in a situation where you’re pretty sure of your orientation but still have some doubts. That’s OK. It’s normal not to have all the answers! For most people, understandings about sexual orientation change throughout life. Our society generally accepts being heterosexual as “normal.” That puts a lot of pressure on lesbian, gay and bisexual people to suppress their true feelings and try to fit in. Trying to fit in can seem easier, even if it means being someone you’re not. A lot of times, though, people realize they can’t pretend for their whole life. So they come out. They haven’t “become” lesbian, gay or bisexual. They’ve just accepted who they are.

Some groups claim people can change their sexual orientation through prayer or therapy. Through research, the American Psychological Association has found that these approaches are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm. People might change their sexual behavior, but behavior is different than orientation. Maybe they start having sex with a member of a different gender. Or they might stop having sex altogether. But that doesn’t change their inner feelings of who they find attractive.

What does LGBTQ mean?

LGBTQ stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning.” For some, the Q stands for “queer.” Heterosexual,…

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