Sexuality Struggle: The Overlooked Evolving Issue

CEO, Co-founder and Partner
Cheryl has been working in the private Mental Health and Addiction treatment world for 30 years, as a clinician, clinical director, program founder, program administrator, and facility decorator!

Share on:

Sexuality Struggle: The Overlooked Evolving Issue

Share on:


Understanding Sexuality

In this article I explore the complex topic of sexuality. I discuss ways of understanding and types of sexuality, mental health related issues, talking about your own sexuality and 15 ways to help someone with their sexuality.

Understanding sexuality is an important aspect of comprehending human identity and experiences and is a topic of growing importance. It encompasses a range of elements, including:

  • Sexual orientation
  • Sexual behaviors
  • Sexual identity

Each contributes to the intricate mosaic of individual identity. In contemporary discussions, the conversation around sexuality is evolving, highlighting the necessity to acknowledge and understand its complexities beyond traditional binaries and stereotypes.

Sexuality is inherently diverse, and its expression varies significantly across different cultures and historical periods. It is not merely about sexual orientation—whether one is heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual—but also about how individuals experience and express their sexual desires, attractions, and behaviors. 

This multifaceted nature of sexuality underlines the importance of considering the personal, social, and cultural dimensions that shape sexual experiences.

Sexuality: A Fluid Concept

In understanding sexuality, it’s essential to recognize that it is not a fixed attribute but rather a fluid and dynamic aspect of human life. People may experience changes in their sexual attractions and behaviors over time, reflecting the nonlinear nature of sexual development. This gives rise to the term “gender fluid” which some people use to describe their sexuality..

This fluidity challenges rigid categorizations and underscores the need for a more nuanced understanding of sexuality that respects individual variations.

The struggle with understanding and accepting one’s sexuality is a significant issue for many, particularly for those whose experiences do not align with societal norms or expectations. The journey toward self-acceptance and the quest for societal acceptance can be fraught with challenges, including:

  • Stigma
  • Discrimination
  • Internal conflicts 

For individuals grappling with these issues, the struggle can impact various facets of their lives, from mental health and relationships to social integration and self-esteem.

The Importance of Education

In addressing the struggles associated with sexuality, it’s important to foster an environment that promotes understanding, respect, and inclusivity. Education plays a pivotal role in this endeavor, as it can dispel myths, challenge prejudices, and cultivate empathy. 

By embracing a comprehensive approach to sexuality education, individuals can gain insights into the diversity of human sexual experiences, thereby promoting a more accepting and informed society.

The Role of Support Systems

Moreover, the role of support systems—be it through family, friends, or community resources—cannot be overstated. For those navigating the complexities of their sexuality, having a supportive network can provide a sense of belonging, validation, and emotional sustenance. 

It’s also vital for mental health professionals, educators, and policymakers to be equipped with the knowledge and sensitivity to address sexuality-related issues effectively and compassionately.

So, understanding sexuality is not merely an academic exercise but a fundamental aspect of recognizing and valuing human diversity. It involves:

  • Acknowledging the broad spectrum of sexual experiences and identities
  • Fostering empathy
  • Advocating for the rights and dignity of all individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation or behaviors 

By deepening our understanding of sexuality, we can contribute to a more inclusive, respectful, and empathetic society, where everyone has the freedom to explore and express their sexual identity without fear of judgment or discrimination.

Types of Sexuality/Ways to Identify Your Sexuality

Sexuality is a spectrum, and there are various ways individuals might identify their sexuality. Here’s a list of types of sexuality or ways individuals might identify their sexual orientation:

  • Heterosexual: Attraction to individuals of the opposite gender.
  • Homosexual: Attraction to individuals of the same gender. This is also known as being gay or lesbian.
  • Bisexual: Attraction to individuals of both one’s own and other genders.
  • Pansexual: Attraction to individuals regardless of their gender or gender identity.
  • Asexual: Little or no sexual attraction to others. Asexuality is a spectrum in itself, with variations like demisexuality (where individuals only feel sexual attraction after forming a strong emotional connection).
  • Queer: An umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or cisgender. Some people use “queer” as a non-specific and inclusive identification.
  • Questioning: Exploring or unsure about one’s sexual orientation.
  • Polysexual: Attraction to multiple, but not all, genders.
  • Omnisexual: Similar to pansexual but with an acknowledgment of the gender of potential partners.
  • Graysexual: Falling on the spectrum between sexual and asexual, where individuals might only experience sexual attraction under specific circumstances.
  • Skoliosexual: Attraction to non-binary individuals or those who do not conform to traditional gender norms.
  • Heteroflexible and Homoflexible: Primarily attraction to a different or same gender, respectively, with occasional attractions outside this preference.
  • Lithsexual: Experiencing sexual attraction without the desire for it to be reciprocated.
  • Aromantic: The absence of romantic attraction, regardless of sexual orientation.
  • Sapiosexual: Attraction to intelligence or the mind before physical attributes.

It’s important to note that language around sexuality is continually evolving, and the way individuals identify can be deeply personal and varied. People might use different terms to describe their experiences of attraction and identity, reflecting the diverse and fluid nature of human sexuality. The choice is up to the individual.

Sexuality and Mental Health

Understanding the intricate relationship between sexuality and mental health is pivotal in fostering a holistic approach to well-being. Sexuality, being a core aspect of human identity, significantly influences psychological and emotional states. The journey of self-discovery and acceptance regarding one’s sexuality can be fraught with challenges, impacting mental health in profound ways.

Individuals who struggle with accepting their sexuality or face societal stigma and discrimination are at a heightened risk of experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress. 

The fear of rejection, internalized homophobia, or the pressure to conform to societal norms can lead to feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, and even suicidal ideation. Adolescents and young adults, who are often at crucial stages of developing their sexual identity, are particularly vulnerable to these mental health challenges.

Moreover, the lack of representation and supportive communities can exacerbate the sense of alienation and confusion. Mental health disparities are evident in LGBTQ+ communities, underscoring the need for targeted support and understanding. The intersectionality of sexuality with factors like race, gender, and socio-economic status further complicates these mental health dynamics, necessitating nuanced approaches to care and support.

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health

  • Self-Acceptance: Embracing your sexuality is a cornerstone of mental well-being. It involves recognizing and valuing your feelings and desires as valid and important. Self-acceptance fosters a positive self-image and reduces internal conflicts related to one’s sexual identity.
  • Seek Support: Finding a community or a support group where you can share your experiences and feelings can be incredibly beneficial. Whether it’s a group specifically for LGBTQ+ individuals or a space that values diversity and inclusion, being around others who understand and validate your experiences can bolster your mental health.
  • Professional Help: If you’re struggling with your mental health, seeking help from a mental health professional who is knowledgeable about and sensitive to issues related to sexuality can be crucial. Therapists, counselors, and psychologists can provide support, strategies, and a safe space to explore your feelings and challenges.
  • Educate Yourself: Understanding the aspects of sexuality and sexual orientation can empower you to navigate your feelings and societal pressures more effectively. Education can also debunk myths and stereotypes that might contribute to self-doubt or confusion.
  • Mindfulness and Self-care: Practices like meditation, yoga, and journaling can help you maintain a balanced perspective and cope with stress. Engaging in activities that you enjoy and that affirm your identity can promote a sense of well-being.
  • Advocate for Inclusivity: Engaging in or supporting advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity can provide a sense of purpose and community, reducing feelings of isolation and promoting a more accepting environment.
  • Build Healthy Relationships: Cultivate relationships with individuals who respect and support your identity. Healthy relationships can provide emotional support, reduce feelings of isolation, and foster a sense of belonging.

Taking care of your mental health is a continuous process, especially when navigating the complexities of sexuality. By cultivating self-acceptance, seeking appropriate support, and engaging in self-care practices, you can enhance well-being and navigate the challenges associated with your sexuality in healthier, more resilient ways.

15 Ways to Help Someone Struggling With Their Sexuality

Helping someone who is struggling with their sexuality requires empathy, understanding, and patience. Here’s a list of ways you can support someone going through this journey:

  1. Listen Actively: Offer a non-judgmental ear. Let them share their thoughts and feelings without fear of criticism or unsolicited advice.
  1. Affirm Their Feelings: Validate their experiences and emotions. Acknowledge that their feelings are real and legitimate, and reassure them that it’s okay to be confused or uncertain.
  1. Educate Yourself: Learn about different sexual orientations and the issues those struggling with their sexuality might face. Understanding these can help you offer informed support.
  1. Respect Their Privacy: Understand that the person’s journey is personal. Maintain confidentiality and let them decide when and how to share their story with others.
  1. Encourage Professional Help: If they’re facing significant distress, suggest seeking help from a mental health professional who is experienced with LGBTQ+ issues.
  1. Offer Resources: Share information about LGBTQ+ support groups, hotlines, and online forums where they can find solidarity and advice from people with similar experiences.
  1. Be Patient: Understand that coming to terms with one’s sexuality is a process. People may need time to understand and accept their identity.
  1. Challenge Homophobia: Stand up against homophobic remarks and discrimination. Creating a safer environment can help them feel more secure and accepted.
  1. Support Their Choices: Whether they’re exploring their identity or deciding how to express their sexuality, back their decisions and respect their autonomy. Use their preference for pronouns.
  1. Encourage Self-Exploration: Support them in exploring their identity at their own pace, whether that means dating, joining LGBTQ+ groups, or other forms of self-exploration.
  1. Be Present: Sometimes, just knowing they have someone who cares can be incredibly comforting. Show that you’re there for them, whether they need to talk, cry, or simply hang out.
  1. Avoid Assumptions: Don’t make assumptions about their sexuality based on stereotypes or past behaviors. Allow them to express and define their identity in their own terms.
  1. Celebrate Their Identity: When they’re ready, help them celebrate their identity. Showing enthusiasm for their self-discovery can boost their confidence and sense of self-worth.
  1. Advocate for Inclusivity: Promote and advocate for inclusive environments where they can feel safe and accepted. This includes challenging discriminatory practices or language.
  1. Check In Regularly: Keep in touch and check in on their well-being. Consistent support can make a significant difference in their journey toward self-acceptance.

Supporting someone struggling with their sexuality is about providing empathy, understanding, and unconditional support, helping them feel valued and accepted during their journey of self-discovery.

Talking About Your Own Sexuality

Talking about one’s own sexuality is a deeply personal and often vulnerable experience. It’s a process that can involve introspection, self-acceptance, and the courage to share one’s true self with others. 

This conversation is not just about disclosing whom you’re attracted to; it’s also about expressing a fundamental aspect of your identity, your experiences, and, in many cases, your journey to understanding and embracing who you are.

The decision to talk about your sexuality is yours alone, and it’s important to do it on your terms and at a pace that feels right for you. It’s crucial to choose a safe and supportive environment when opening up about such a personal topic. 

This might mean confiding in a close friend, a family member, a therapist, or a support group, depending on where you feel most comfortable and understood.

Before having these conversations, it’s helpful to reflect on your feelings and how you want to express them. Understanding your emotions and thoughts can provide clarity, making it easier to articulate your experiences. It’s also beneficial to prepare for a range of reactions, as people’s responses can vary widely based on their beliefs, knowledge, and experiences with sexuality.

When you decide to share your sexuality with someone, be clear and direct about your identity and what it means to you. Remember, you’re not obligated to have all the answers or to label yourself if you’re not ready or if you feel that existing labels don’t fit your experience. The dialogue about your sexuality is an opportunity to share your truth and educate others about your perspective and needs.

It’s also important to establish boundaries. You decide how much you want to share and when. If the conversation becomes uncomfortable or intrusive, it’s okay to steer it back to a place where you feel safe or to end it altogether. Your comfort and well-being should always be your priority.

Remember, talking about your sexuality is a powerful act of self-assertion. It can be liberating and empowering, fostering a sense of authenticity and self-acceptance. It can also inspire others to embrace their own identities and contribute to a more inclusive and understanding society.

However, it’s equally important to acknowledge that these conversations can be challenging and emotionally taxing. It’s essential to have support systems in place, whether they’re friends, family, counselors, or online communities, to provide love, understanding, and reassurance throughout your journey.

Ultimately, discussing your sexuality is a personal choice and a significant step in living authentically. It’s an act of bravery and authenticity, reflecting your commitment to living as your true self in a world that is still learning to embrace diversity in all its forms.

Corner Canyon Welcomes You at Our LGBTQ+ Safe Centers

If you or a loved one are looking for a LGBTQ+ positive space to work on mental health issues, reach out to our Admissions team now at Corner Canyon Health Centers.

CEO, Co-founder and Partner
Cheryl has been working in the private Mental Health and Addiction treatment world for 30 years, as a clinician, clinical director, program founder, program administrator, and facility decorator!

Liz Lund, MPA

Liz is originally from lush green Washington State. She is a life enthusiast and a huge fan of people. Liz has always loved learning why people are the way they are. She moved to UT in 2013 and completed her bachelors degree in Psychology in 2016. After college Liz worked at a residential treatment center and found that she was not only passionate about people, but also administration. Liz is recently finished her MPA in April 2022. Liz loves serving people and is excited and looking forward to learning about; and from our clients here at Corner Canyon.
When Liz is not busy working she love being outdoors, eating ice cream, taking naps, and spending time with her precious baby girl and sweet husband.