It’s amazing how our bodies are able to feel pleasure – whether it’s the taste of ice cream, the feeling of petting a kitten, the sound of our favourite song, the smell of jasmine flowers, the sight of a beautiful sunset, or the emotions we experience when we spend time with a good friend. Sex can also be pleasurable – whether we are by ourselves or with someone else. But it can be harder to talk about sex than about ice cream or sunsets. So we might wonder: Should sex feel good for us? How do people make sex feel good / better? Is it ok for us to have sexual pleasure by ourselves (also known as masturbation)? What should we do if sex is pleasurable for our partner but not for us? How do we get comfortable with feeling this kind of pleasure if bad sexual stuff has happened to us? Who are the right people to ask about these things?
Everyone – even someone who will never have sex – has a sexual orientation. Sex is about what people do, but sexual orientation is about what people are. It includes things like what kind of person we feel sexually & romantically attracted to – if we’re attracted to anyone this way. Words like straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and asexual describe some sexual orientations.
When we were born, the doctor probably said “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” Gender Identity is about how well we feel these words (boy, girl, man, woman) fit us right now. Do some words feel like they describe us better than others? Do none of them feel right? Words like male, female, cisgender, transgender, and gender fluid describe some gender identities.
This stuff can be fascinating. It can be complicated. We may wonder: Can gender identity or orientation change? Do I need permission to be gay? Are some sexual orientations and gender identities better than others? What does LGBTQ mean? What’s with the Pride Parade anyway?