Homosexual?

Originally Published: April 27, 1995 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 12, 2005
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Dear Alice,

How can I tell whether or not I am homosexual? I like to date people of the opposite sex, sometimes... but almost all my fantasies are about people of my same gender.

—Confused

Dear Confused,

People don't always fall into a strict category of heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, but often fall somewhere in-between. Some people define their sexual orientation solely by the gender with whom they are sexually active. Others may also take into account who they feel attracted to, or who they choose to fantasize about. Sexuality surveys tend to ask people questions about their sexual behavior, their sexual desire, and their self-identification (i.e., as gay or lesbian, heterosexual, bisexual, etc.) as three different but integrated facets of people's sexual orientation.

Labels can be difficult and restricting for people. Only you can decide for yourself where you might fit into the categories of sexual orientation. A few things to think about are whether or not you have ever thought about acting on your fantasies. Until then, fantasies are simply creative imaginings that turn people on. Do you find yourself attracted to someone of the same sex in your daily life? Do you like the possibility of having a sexual encounter with a person of the same sex? The key here is not what you call yourself, but what to do about your feelings.

If you want more information and you are at Columbia, you can check out the Columbia Queer Alliance website, which offers information, links, and contact information for other GLBTQ resources at Columbia. You can also contact the Gay Health Advocacy Project by phone (x4-6655), e-mail (ghap@columbia.edu), or in-person during walk-in hours (check the website for the details each semester at www.health.columbia.edu/docs/services/ghap_hiv/index.html). GHAP advocates are available to talk with students who have any GLBTQ issues. Off-campus, Identity House offers private counseling and support regarding issues of sexual orientation. Also, try the Gay and Lesbian National Hotline, a nationwide toll-free peer counseling, information, and referral line, at 1.888.THE.GLNH (843.4564) [4:00 PM - 12:00 midnight EST (M - F); 12 noon - 5:00 PM EST (Sa)].

Alice