"Sexual orientation" is innate and unchangeable. The term is used to describe a person's enduring romantic or sexual attraction toward others, whether it be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. It refers to a consistent pattern of sexual feelings or arousal toward persons of the same or a different gender, encompassing fantasy, conscious attractions, emotional and romantic feelings, and sexual behaviors.
"Sexual identity" refers to how a person describes his or her sexuality and how that person expresses that self to others. Typically, sexual identity will be an expression of a person's underlying sexual orientation. But sexual orientation and sexual identity do not always match. One can have a homosexual orientation and choose to outwardly express a heterosexual identity.
Want to know more? Check out LGBT Alphabet Soup
Sexual behavior is a behavior. Homosexual sexual experiences do not define an orientation -- many more people have homosexual experiences than ever identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Below are articles with information relating to sexual orientation, as well as a list of local and national resources for gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
- What if I'm Not Straight?
- Essay "In memory of Larry King," a teen murdered February 12, 2008 for being gay.
- Book Review: The New Gay Teenager
- Resources for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Youth