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What Is Sexual Orientation?


Question: What Is Sexual Orientation?
Answer: Sexual orientation is what the American Psychological Association calls an "enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional" attraction toward another person. Sexual orientation is independent of gender identity (see Transgender 101) or social perceptions of masculinity or femininity. In other words, a persons appearance, clothing or demeanor does not determine their sexuality.

Sexuality is fluid, meaning that different people have varying sexualities. To clarify, a person can be exclusively heterosexual or exclusively homosexual. And in between, bisexual persons share feelings of both.

If a person has sex with a person of the same sex, doesn't that make them gay?
Not necessarily. Sexual orientation is a feeling, attraction, or "self-concept." The American Psychological Association goes on to explain that "individuals may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors."
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