Sexual orientation is the term used to describe an individual's sexual, psychological, and emotional feelings of attraction towards another person. No one fully understands exactly what determines a person's sexual orientation, but it is likely explained by a variety of biological and genetic factors. Medical experts and organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Psychological Association (APA) view sexual orientation as part of someone's nature. Same sex attraction is not considered a mental disorder or abnormality.
Sexuality is considered to be an essential and natural characteristic of all people which begins to develop in early childhood and continues over the course of one's lifetime. Sexual orientation exists along a continuum of emotional and sexual attractions, which ranges from people who have no sexual attraction to anyone (asexual), or are only attracted to those of the opposite sex (heterosexual), or who are only attracted to those of the same sex (gay/lesbian), or those who have varying emotional and/or physical attractions to both people of the same and opposite sex (bisexual), or are attracted to any sex or gender identity (pansexual).
Social, cultural, political, and religious factors impact on the extent to which an individual will self-identify as a sexual minority, become visible (“come out”) or remain silent and hidden (“in the closet”), and the extent to which they act on their attractions. Experiences with stigmatization, discrimination, and prejudice often prevent individuals from positively integrating their sexual feelings and may inhibit them from publicly identifying as a sexual minority.
For more information on supports and resources relating to Sexual Orientation please see the links below: