- There are lots of different words used to describe sexuality. It’s worth checking out our useful words page to see a few.
- It is not always black and white. You might like boys and girls, both, neither or you might be not sure right now. That’s okay! It’s important to understand that feeling something for a member of the same-sex doesn’t mean you immediately need to label yourself.
General Stages of Queer Sexual Identity Development:
- Identity confusion (what the heck is going on with me?)
Because of the overwhelmingly heteronormative society we live in, people tend to grow up assuming that they are straight. Everyone else expects so too. So when you start to have feelings for someone of the same gender, it can make you feel all kinds of confused and upset. You might not even be ready to say out loud how you’re feeling, or deny it when someone asks you. You might also start secretly looking for more information (like on this site, which is a good place to start!).
- Identity comparison (what’s going on in other people’s love lives?)
As you start exploring and getting used to your queer sexual identity, you may begin to realise the difference between yourself and others. You may see no ways of identifying with the other people in your life, including your family/whanau or friends, this can be a very isolating time. You might start reaching out to queer and trans* organisations like us, or attending queer or trans* groups in your area to connect with other people who know what you are going through.
- Identity tolerance (I guess its okay that I am different)
Eventually, you’ll start getting used to your sexuality or gender identity. This could come about through learning how you identify, being educated on what this means, and may have built up some support outside your family and friends (online or through previously mentioned groups).This might be around the time when you start thinking about telling your friends and whānau.
- Identity acceptance (I am who I am)
Now you’re at the stage where you’re used to the idea of being queer and you’re okay with it! When you’re ready to come out, it’s good to find out what the experience was like for others. Our groups are useful for sharing these stories, and there is also a wealth of these personal stories on the internet.
- Identity synthesis (Being queer is one aspect of my life, but there are many others too)
This stage is all about getting on with your life. Hopefully by now, being queer is not an issue for you. You know that there are times when it feels right to talk about your sexual identity, and times when you’d prefer not to. In the wake of your new confidence in yourself, other people’s acceptance has become less important.