Frequently Asked Questions
There are many questions that we get asked on a regular basis at Out Youth. This page should get you started, but we highly suggest the book Is It a Choice? Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gay & Lesbian People, Third Edition (Marcus, 2005).
How do I know if my child is lesbian/gay/bisexual?
Only your child can determine their true sexual orientation. Although outside information (such as books, counselors and friends) can be helpful, ultimately they are the one who knows who they truly are.
Being lesbian. gay or bisexual means that they have some degree of physical, emotional and/or romantic feelings for people of the same gender as themselves. For lesbian and gay-identified people, same-gender feelings are exclusive or at least predominant over opposite-gender feelings. Bisexuals have feelings toward both, but not necessarily in equal amounts.
The most common description of these feelings in early life is like having a “crush” on someone: thinking about a certain person a great deal, admiring a certain person, finding it hard not to look at a certain person, having fantasies involving a certain person, and even becoming sexually aroused by a certain person. The person may be someone famous or someone your child sees at school every day.
Does having a crush on someone of the same gender mean that my child is gay?
No, not necessarily. It is not unusual to admire someone. However, lesbian, gay and bisexual people often discover their true sexual orientation after repeated patterns of same-sex attractions, not just one.
Is homosexuality/bisexuality a choice?
Just as heterosexual people do not choose the feelings they have, neither do homosexuals. The only choice that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have is to accept or deny what they discover within themselves.
Denial of one’s self, even a part, can carry a heavy burden. Considering all of the disadvantages lesbian, gay and bisexual people face, it is difficult to imagine why someone would choose to be gay if being straight is so much easier.
What causes someone to be gay?
No one really knows. No one really knows what causes people to be straight, either. However, all the most recent research points to the high likelihood that it is a genetic trait and not a choice or the result of certain approaches to child-rearing.
Isn’t homosexuality/bisexuality a sin?
You will hear different answers to this depending on whom you ask.
In modern Christian, Jewish and other belief systems, views vary widely. Nevertheless, homosexuality/bisexuality was not even mentioned in the Bible until this century. Many scholars and lay people have examined the original texts and found that homosexuality as we know it today is not what the writers of the Bible were referring to.
Many gay people find that their own experience when combined with their religious beliefs guides them to self-acceptance and inner peace. For more information on homosexuality and Christianity, we suggest reading Ontario Consultants’ article on religious tolerance and Daniel Helminiak’s What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality.
Why do lesbian/gay/bisexual people insist on flaunting their sexuality?
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people want the same rights as any other citizen. They do not “flaunt” their sexuality any more than heterosexual people do.
When you see heterosexual couples holding hands, displaying pictures or other signs of their loved ones, being married or wearing wedding rings or taking their children to the park, would you say that those straight people were flaunting themselves? Probably not.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people want to be able to celebrate their love just as openly as anyone else.
How many LGBTQIA people are there?
Because LGBTQIA people largely tend to blend into our diverse society, and because oppression makes it hard for many LGBTQIA people to self-identify as LGBTQIA in surveys and studies, it is difficult to know for sure.
The most widely respected figure is 10 percent of any given population. LGBTQIA people have been known to exist in all world cultures throughout recorded history.
If it seems that there are more LGBTQIA people in a given geographical area; perhaps it is because that place is more accepting and friendly to LGBTQIA people, so it’s easier for us to be visible and more of us will move there to experience acceptance.
How does a person know whether they are gay or lesbian if they’ve never had sex?
Sexual behavior does not determine orientation. Orientation is defined by a person’s feelings, whether or not they are sexually active. There are situations where a person may behave in one way even though they are oriented the other way.
For instance, a young man who knows he has feelings only for other men dates only women because he is afraid of facing his true feelings or is afraid of what others may say about his “true” self. No matter how much he dates women, his orientation is still gay.
Creating a more accepting society will help LGBTQIA people avoid this kind of problematic situation to begin with.