Young and gay, lesbian, bi, pan, a, queer ...

"Boys fancy girls; girls fancy boys". But for you it’s different somehow? Or perhaps you are not quite sure yet? Here are some tips for you.

How do I know whether I am gay or lesbian, bi or something else altogether? Or perhaps I am hetero?

People discover their sexual orientation in a variety of ways: For some it suddenly becomes clear somehow. For others it is a more gradual process. Others in hindsight say that they always knew “it”. Many others make the experience that the ostensibly fixed can change in the course of their lives.

Even if you cannot possibly know what’s going to happen in five years; it is your absolute right to live now, to fall in love, or to be interested in others just as you see fit.

Do I actually need a name for my sexual orientation?

Some people find expressions such as “lesbian” or “pansexual” useful to describe an important part of themselves, or to access people, media and spaces which are of interest to them more easily. Others find labels too restrictive or simply irrelevant.

What you know or say about yourself is valid. Even if you have someone saying: "But queer means actually ..." or "If you were really bi, then..."

Everybody is constantly speaking about sex, relationship, flirting. Do I need to be interested in all that?

No. For some sex or romanticism plays a more significant role in their lives; for others less. Still others are not at all interested in sexuality; the term to describe this is asexual.

How do I tell my parents or others that I am not heterosexual?

You should be free to decide whether you even want to come out and to whom; there is no obligation.

If you fear adverse reactions, one way is to start by telling people who you know will be supportive. Many gay, lesbian or bisexual youth start by telling a friend first.

It can also help to let someone you trust know that you’re going to have a conversation that’s worrying you. So that, once you’re done, you can come back and tell them how it went.

If someone does not react well to your sexuality, remember that this is not your fault. Some people need time or counselling until they are able to understand your identity or way of life with the respect you deserve.

Apart from youth groups, there are also counselling centres that offer support to young people – online, in person or by telephone when coming out or when faced with other difficult situations.