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Problems

Sexuality

Many young people are confused about their sexuality and this can cause a lot of anxiety and heartache. Some people know from an early age that they are gay or lesbian and have stronger feelings for their same sex rather than the opposite sex. Some people take longer to work out their feelings and if you are confused about your sexuality you need to give yourself time for your feelings to develop - there is no rush. You don't need to label yourself or be pushed into any one direction - you need to do what feels right for you and in time you will know what feels right.

When growing up it is common to have crushes and feelings on members of the same sex - often these are passing phases and it does not mean you are gay. If over time you have stronger feelings for the same sex, you tend to focus all your attention on the same sex and do not feel attracted at all by members of the opposite sex this could be an indication that you may be gay.

Some people have feelings for both sexes and are bisexual. It is ok to be gay, lesbian, bisexual - whatever feels right for you to be. Fortunately prejudice against gay people is getting less although it still does exist in many areas and for this reason some people who are gay are frightened to come out. As a result they may spend years of their life not being able to be themselves and express themselves in the way they would like to be and this can cause enormous distress and pain.

If you are subjected to any kind of prejudice, bullying, harassment, because of your sexuality it is important to get help and support for yourself and to recognise that people who are homophobic lack understanding so don't allow other people's lack of understanding to make you feel bad about yourself. It doesn't matter whether a person is straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, - it doesn't matter what sexuality/sexual orientation you have - what counts is the kind of person you are, the qualities you have, and nobody has a right to put you down because of your sexuality/sexual orientation.

There is no right time for coming out - it has to be right for you and never allow others to push you into doing something you don't want to do. It may help to talk through your feelings with a helpline, counsellor, friend, and to look through some of the information on the internet.

Many young people are particularly worried as to whether their parents will still love and accept them. Some parents are fine with this and others do take time to accept and adjust - if you don't get the reaction you would like give your parents, family, friends, time - just as you may have been confused about your feelings - others may be confused about their feelings. There are helplines and support groups for parents and families, friends so if anyone you tell is having a hard time accepting what you have told them it may help to give them information on some of the agencies who can give support and information to them.

If people don't react in the way you would like it doesn't mean they love you any the less but some people have grown up with very fixed ideas, they also may have fixed religious beliefs which can get in the way of acceptance and understanding so give people time and hopefully they will realise that you are still the same person you were before you came out and that they love you just the same and it doesn't make any difference at all to how they feel about you or treat you.

There is also a great deal of information on the internet which can be a great source of support and help with feelings of isolation and also ways of meeting other people who are in the same situation as yourself. Please remember if you go into chatrooms, arrange to meet anyone - keep yourself safe and don't divulge any personal information. If you meet up with anyone always tell someone where you are going and meet in a public place. There are people on the internet who pose as young people who are in fact paedophiles so you always need to be careful. There is also information on keeping yourself safe sexually, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS etc.

We have also included agencies which provide help, information, advice and support to transsexuals, transvestites and anyone confused about gender issues.

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Agencies which provide information and support

  • SupportLine Telephone Helpline: 01708 765200 email info@supportline.org.uk - Provides emotional support and details of agencies, counsellors, helplines, support groups across the UK.

  • Cara-Friend (Area served N.Ireland): 028 9032 2023 gay men, 028 9023 8668 lesbians - Helpline for anyone who is lesbian, gay or bisexual or has concerns about sexual orientation. Counselling, befriending, information, including details of social events and venues in N. Ireland. Face to face befriending and social support groups.

  • EACH - Educational Action Challenging Homophobia: 0808 100 0143, www.eachaction.org.uk - Helpline offering support for young people affected by homophobia. Help and support for people concerned about a school pupil or college student affected by homophobia. Supports lesbian and gay young people in challenging homophobic bullying and helps teachers offer support to lesbian and gay pupils.

  • FFLAG 0845 652 0311, www.fflag.org.uk - National voluntary organisation which supports lesbians and gay men and their families. Helplines throughout UK and parents groups. Run by parents of gays and lesbians

  • LGBT Foundation:
    0345 330 3030
    www.lgbt.foundation
    Wide range of services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities.
  • LGBT Helpline Scotland:
    0300 123 2523
    www.lgbt-helpline-scotland.org.uk/
    Open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 12-9pm. Information and emotional support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families, friends and supporters across Scotland.

  • LGBT Youth Scotland: (Area served Scotland) www.lgbtyouth.org.uk - Helpline and other information, advice and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people under 26. Advice on range of issues including housing. Scotland wide network of events for young people and group leaders.

  • Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
    www.lgcm.org.uk
    Advice, information, counselling and a helpline for the Christian lesbian and gay community.

  • One Parent Families (Scotland):
    0808 801 0323
    www.opfs.org.uk
    Helpline information and advice for lone parents. Includes parenting issues for gay lesbian, bisexual, transgender parents and for children of gay, lesbian, bi, transgender parents.

  • PFLAG UK
    www.pflag.co.uk
    Support for parents, family, friends of lesbian and gay people in the UK through information, links and resources on their website. PFLAG do not directly provide counselling or Helpline services.

  • The Pink Practice: 020 7060 4000, www.pinkpractice.co.uk - Lesbian and gay counselling and psychotherapy service based in Central London.

  • Quest Linkline
    The Helpline for Lesbian and Gay Catholics
    www.questgaycatholic.org.uk
    Helpline for lesbian, gay and bisexual Catholics, their parents, partners and those who minister to them. Listening, support, information, befriending, issues dealt with include coming out, relationships, Christian faith and sexuality. Referrals to local groups and sympathetic clergy.

  • Switchboard. The LGBT+ Helpline
    0300 330 0630

    www.switchboard.lgbt
    A one-stop listening service for LGBT+ people on the phone, email and instant messaging service.

  • UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group 020 7922 7811, www.uklgig.org.uk - Helpline and other advice and information on all immigration and nationality issues for gay men and lesbians.

Websites

  • www.gayhusbands.com – American site of Bonnie Kaye whose husband came out as being gay and Bonnie provides support to women internationally who find themselves in a similar situation.

  • www.gaydadsscotland.org.uk - Social and support group for gay fathers living in Scotland.

  • www.parentsenquiryscotland.org - support for parents and families of lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender children.

  • www.colage.org - Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere - offer friendship, understanding, online communities, pen pal contacts, community support groups across the world. (American site).

Useful books

Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It is by Abigail Garner
Click here to read more or buy this book

How It Feels To Have A Gay or Lesbian Parent by Judith E Snow (a book for children of all ages)
Click here to read more or buy this book

Let's Get This Straight: The Ultimate Handbook for Youth with LGBTQ parents by Tina Fakhrid-Deen & COLAGE
Click here to read or buy this book

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