Learning to Accept your Sexual Identity

Throughout our lives some of us start to have feelings for other people – whether that’s a full-blown crush, you just fancy them, you’re sexually attracted to them or you fall in love with someone. There is a whole spectrum of different sexual orientations and we can’t just simply label people as straight or gay. There is a lot more to sexuality than simply deciding if you prefer men, women, or both. 

 

For many people, the journey of accepting your sexuality can be difficult and confusing. This personal process varies from person to person and can have many layers to it. For some, there could be external factors, such as their family’s beliefs, that can slow down the process of accepting your sexuality and coming out.

 

Nathan Dunne, a 22-year-old bisexual man from Drogheda, said his earliest memory of having feelings for another boy was when he was in 4th or 5th class in primary school. He had feelings for a boy in his class but “I repressed it to believing that was just how I’m supposed to feel about friends.”

 

As Dunne got older, he began to understand himself more, but still found it hard to accept these feelings.

 

 “I remember feeling that it wasn’t normal, and I would go on for a few years after trying to block that out,” he said, “I got to a point where I was refusing to be that person.”

 

In his late teens, Dunne made friends in the LGBTI+ community, who helped him accept himself and understand that it was okay. “I was tired of repressing my feelings and I eventually opened my eyes and realised that being bisexual does not make me different from anyone else.”

 

Dunne’s mother is a Born-Again Christian, which made his coming out process slightly more difficult. He decided to come out on social media for his friends and family to see.

 

Spunout, have outlined the three main stages of coming out as discovery, acceptance, and integration.

 

Discovery

In this stage, you begin to recognise you have feelings or questions about if you are bi-sexual, transgender, lesbian, gay, non-binary, or another sexuality. Discovering these feelings and emotions can happen at any stage in a person’s life.

 

Acceptance

Once you begin to accept your sexuality or gender identity you might feel more comfortable about coming out to those around you. You might only feel comfortable telling one or two people, but this does not mean you have to tell absolutely everyone. Do this at your own pace and share your beautiful, true self with people whenever you feel ready.

 

Integration

How you begin to integrate will change from person to person, but generally speaking, this is when you start to get a bit more comfortable expressing your sexuality. This could take the form of a relationship or mixing with the LGBTI+ community. If you are transgender you may start your transition during this time and asking people to refer to you by the correct pronoun.

 

Coming out and coming to terms with your sexual identity can be difficult, but remember you are never alone. It is important you take the time to fully understand your sexuality to allow you to accept it. We can’t choose what gender we love, or what sexuality or gender we identify as – but you can choose to love yourself for it and accept that this is who you are. 

 

“Be kind to yourself and understand that you are no different from anyone else regardless of what anyone says or thinks about you,” Dunne advises, “accept yourself and love yourself for who you are. Remember that there is a huge group of people that you can confide in and talk to about what you’re going through and it genuinely helps.”

LGBT Ireland is a national support system for members of the community and their friends and family. They provide confidential supports seven days a week through instant messaging or their helpline 1890 929 539