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Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

Sexual orientation and gender identity can be a tricky subject to understand but there are heaps of awesome resources out there to build your understanding!

Here are some of our faves from NZ:

‘Sexual orientation’ is basically a description of who we like or are sexually attracted to. Some people are attracted mostly to people of the opposite sex while others are attracted mostly to people of the same sex.

  • Some people find themselves attracted to people of both sexes. It is something you have to discover for yourself as you experience friendships and relationships with different people. If you are attracted to members of the opposite sex (e.g. girl/boy relationships), your sexual orientation can be described as 'straight' or 'heterosexual'.
  • If you are attracted to people of the same sex as you (e.g. boy/boy or girl/girl relationships), your sexual orientation can be described as 'gay'.

'Gender identity' is about how we see ourselves. For example some people can see themselves as having a male or a female identity, or maybe somewhere in the middle.

It’s best to think about sexual orientation and gender identity as a spectrum with everyone falling somewhere on the spectrum.

Check out these awesome resources that tell you a bit more about these spectrums:


  • Discovering your sexual identity is a normal part of growing up. 
  • This process can be confusing, exciting, worrying, liberating, and conflicting.  
  • It's okay if you’re having feelings for someone who is the same gender as you.
  • It's okay if you feel differently to your friends or family about same-sex relationships.
  • Don’t stress out if you don’t know where you fit and if a label applies to you. It’s a PROCESS.
  • Acknowledging to yourself and others how you really feel can be challenging. Some people just “know” while others may question for a long time.  
  • It is not okay to be abused, humiliated, treated unfairly or differently because of who you love. This is in the Human Rights Act 1993. Check out our 'Fight Against Discrimination' article for more details on this. Click here to go there now. 
  • The process of telling others how you feel is one that can be very challenging, but ultimately rewarding. For tips on how to do this and how to get support about your sexuality, contact Rainbow Youth.

Sexual Identity