"Am I Gay?"
A Guide for People Who Question Their Sexual Orientation

Richard H. Reams, Ph.D.
Introduction

For those whose physical and emotional attractions are consistently and exclusively directed toward persons of "the other sex," knowing one's sexual orientation is easy.  These individuals are fortunate to live in a society -- and family -- that unequivocally affirm heterosexuality and present no obstacles to the recognition and acceptance of one's heterosexuality. 

Others experience some degree of same-sex attractions and struggle to make sense of what those attractions mean, especially in the context of a society and family that regards heterosexuality as the ideal sexual orientation. 

In 2013 I launched this website after discovering that detailed guidance for people questioning their sexual orientation did not exist. 
This guide (updated in 2017) is based on my work as a psychologist who taught a college course about sexual orientation for 12 years and who counsels clients who want to clarify their sexual orientation. 

If you are seeking to clarify your sexual orientation, there is a lot you need to know about sexual orientation itself as well as the identity development process that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people experience.  And there is evidence from your life to gather and examine.

With so much information to consider, I have divided this guide into seven parts:

  • Parts 1 and 2 explain two critical and related concepts — sexual orientation and sexual orientation identity — to provide a foundation for understanding yourself. 
  • Part 3 addresses seven myths about sexual orientation that may contribute to your confusion.  
  • Part 4 will help you gather and examine the evidence about your sexual orientation.  
  • Part 5 explores four obstacles to sexual orientation identity development. 
  • Part 6 recommends next steps, depending on the outcome of your examination of the evidence. 
  • Part 7 identifies resources that can assist you in your journey if the evidence indicates that you are LGB.

You may be quite eager to settle the question, “Am I gay?" or "Am I bi?" or "What’s my sexual orientation?”  Or you may be hesitant to settle the question if the thought of being anything other than heterosexual evokes anxiety.  I honor whatever feelings you bring to the process of clarifying your sexual orientation.

In Part 1, we'll explore a seemingly simple question that has a complicated answer: 
“What is Sexual Orientation?
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