In today's society, there is a label for essentially everything. With all the different types of sexual orientations and gender identifications, it can be confusing figuring out exactly who you are, and even more confusing to figure out who you like.
Maybe you had a crush on a girl when you were 12 years old, but you can't distinguish if those feelings were admiration or lust; maybe you've dated both guys and girls and you can't really determine a preference, or maybe you just have absolutely no desire for intimacy at all.
The subject of sexual orientation is tricky and complex, and unfortunately, there are still people who are unaccepting of it all. As such, it's normal to experience feelings of guilt, shame, and denial as you come to terms with your identity.
These negative feelings can hinder individuals from 'coming out' and can often cause depression or suicidal thoughts, or even worse, can result in the infliction of violent hate crimes.
Counseling can help you come to terms with your sexuality, while also preparing you to handle the struggles you might face because of it. However, if you don't quite feel ready to go and speak with someone face-to-face, online therapy can deliver the same results without requiring you to ever leave home.
The Stages of Identifying One's Sexuality
Coming out is always unique for every individual, everybody has a different experience. Some will tell you they've known about their sexuality since childhood and had no problem coming out at all, with their family members and friends offering huge support. Others have repressed their sexuality for most of their life, not coming out until their later years.
Despite the different experiences, most people go through the same stages when coming out.
These stages include:
- Questioning: Before coming out, there is a period of time when you will begin to question your heterosexual identity. Maybe you saw someone of the same sex who you thought was attractive; all it takes is this initial question, which for many, can take years to answer. It's normal to keep to yourself during this stage and not express your internal struggle to others.
- Internal Acceptance: Once you've moved past the first stage, you will eventually reach a point when you accept that you are, in fact, homosexual/bisexual/trans/asexual. Acceptance does not necessarily equal happiness, and it's important to remember this.
- Support: As you begin to educate yourself on the subject, it's essential you surround yourself with a strong support system. This might come in the form of your closest group of friends, allies, or support group. Other members of the LGBT community are good influences to keep in your life and may help you during this time in your life.
- Pride: As you approach this stage, you will start to experience more happiness in life than you ever did. This stage is all about coming to terms with who you are and fully embracing it. The negative feelings – depression, fear, suicidal thoughts – typically accompany the first few stages, but at this point, you will begin to embrace it.
- Coming out: Once you're ready, it's time to come out to your close friends and loved ones. Your family and friends might be the hardest people to tell, but this marks the final stage of coming out.
Since face-to-face counseling isn't always an option due to time, distance, and cost, online therapy is available to help anyone through this confusing time. It's convenient, affordable, and very comfortable since it's all done from the comfort and privacy of your own home.
There are a variety of professionals available to choose from, and you can try out a few specialists before committing to one.
The Virtual Therapist Network has a wide range of professional online therapists who are trained and experienced in gay and lesbian issues and can provide you online counseling from the comfort and privacy of your own home.
This article may be freely distributed in its entirety in any e-zine, newsletter, blog, or website as long as the website links remain intact, unchanged, and are included, in their entirety, with every reproduction.