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Fact Sheet

Being gay

What does it mean to be gay?

Men usually describe themselves as gay when they find that they are physically, emotionally and sexually attracted to other men.

It’s not uncommon for men to have gay experiences and feelings as part of exploring their sexuality. However, for men who eventually identify themselves as gay, there’s a strong physical and emotional attraction to men that they don’t usually feel for women.

However, it is important to remember that just because at some point in your life you experience an attraction for the same sex, you don’t have to label yourself as gay. It is your choice. It can be hard for men to come out as gay because sometimes society doesn’t accept people who are attracted to their same sex.  For this reason, being gay can cause feelings of isolation for some young men, because they feel a lot of pressure to be straight. Unfortunately, some people find homosexuality hard to understand, but remember: there’s nothing “wrong” about feeling or being gay.

Why are some men gay?

There’s no real explanation of why some men are gay and some aren’t. Some people recognize their attractions at an early age while others don’t identify their attractions until well into adulthood. Most young people, however, begin to develop gay feelings and attractions during their teenage years. The main thing to remember is that being gay is not something to be”cured” or”fixed.” It’s part of the broad spectrum of human sexuality.

How do I know if I’m gay?

There’s no easy answer to this question. You can’t fill in a questionnaire or take a test that will give you a definite answer. What’s important is that you explore your sexuality in a way that makes you feel comfortable and safe. Allow yourself time to understand what being gay means to you.

It’s also important to remember you don’t have to address these questions alone. You might have friends or family members who have had similar experience and can talk with you about your feelings. If you’d rather speak to people who aren’t directly involved in your life, you can also find a support group in your area though the Human Rights Campaign or the Gay-Straight Alliance. If someone tells you that gay people are just confused about their sexuality, or that you can change, look for someone else to talk with.

How do I know if someone else is gay?

Chances are, you probably won’t know until someone tells you. Gay men come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important that you don’t judge others based on stereotypes, or assume someone’s sexuality because of the way he dresses or the people he hangs out with. At the same time, if you identify as gay, how you dress and behave is about your personal identity, not a stereotype.

Gay relationships

In most respects, gay relationships are no different from straight relationships. Like everyone else, gay men fall in love and form committed relationships. Regardless of your sexuality, it’s important to be open and honest with your partners about your feelings and attraction to other people.  Beyond that, there are no predetermined rules to follow in any relationship.

For more information

There are many misunderstandings about sexuality and sex, and exploring your sexuality might be a confusing thing to do, whether you’re straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual. If you’re curious to learn more about your sexuality, you might want to check out these additional fact sheets:

Information in this fact sheet was also provided by

The Human Rights Campaign
Gay-Straight Alliance

Other resources

Trevor Project and Trevor helpline (1-866-488-7386)
GLBT National Help Center
National GLBT Talkline (1-800-246-7743)
National GLBT Hotline (1-888-843-4564)
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
The National Day of Silence (brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools).
National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Youth
Youth Resource, a website by and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people
PFLAG, Parents, families, and friends of lesbians and gays

Last reviewed: Mar 7 2013

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