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Frequently asked questions

What Is Sexual Orientation?

  • Sexual orientation is a lasting romantic, affectionate, or sexual attraction to another person. 

  • Homosexuality is not an illness, mental disorder, or emotional problem.

  • Most scientists agree that a person's sexual orientation is likely the result of a complex interaction of many factors, including environmental genetic, and hormonal influences.   

  • People cannot choose their sexual orientation, nor can it be voluntarily changed.

  • Sexual behavior is different from sexual orientation.  People may not express their sexual orientation through their sexual behavior. 

  • Many people find it necessary to hide their feelings from persons of the same sex, and instead behave like they are heterosexual. There are many reasons homosexuals might choose to act straight, but the most common one is the social impact of being with someone of the same sex. 

  • Many people discover their sexual orientation during early adolescence. 

  • Many people think that sexual orientation is divided into only two categories: exclusive homosexuality (often called gay when referring to men or lesbian when referring to women) and exclusive heterosexuality (straight). However, a person's sexual orientation may fall somewhere between heterosexual and homosexual.  These persons, commonly referred to as bisexual, experience romantic and sexual  feelings towards both sexes. 

  • For more than 25 years, both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have urged all mental health professionals to help dispel the stigma of mental illness that some people still associate with homosexual orientation.

"Answers to Your Questions About Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality," American Psychological Association  |  why stay close?  |  the campaign  |  about pflag  |  contact stay close  |  donate

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