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Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation is a term used to describe a person’s pattern of attraction based on gender. Sexual orientation may include attraction to the same gender, a gender different than your own, both or neither. Sexual orientation may be emotional, erotic, romantic, and/or sexual.

Some common terms used to describe sexual orientation:

  • Bisexual – attracted to both sexes
  • Heterosexual/straight – attracted to a different sex
  • Homosexual – attracted to the same sex
  • Lesbian –  women attracted to women
  • Gay – generally, men attracted to men, although some women attracted to women also identify as gay
  • Pansexual – someone attracted to all sexes/genders, including transgender
  • Asexual – someone who does not experience sexual attraction, but may feel other types of attraction
  • Questioning – someone who isn’t sure who they are attracted to

Sexual orientation is often an important part of someone’s identity. When we identify as a certain sexual orientation, we may feel that we belong to a particular community, such as the gay community or the bisexual community.

Sexual orientation may change over the course of a person’s lifetime. A person may identify with a sexual orientation that is different from who they actually have sex with. For example, a person may identify as bisexual, but have sex mainly with people of the opposite sex. Or, a person may identify as gay, but sometimes have sex with someone of a different gender.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.


QMUNITY – BC's queer resource centre
Canadian Human Rights – Sexual orientation

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sexuality, gender, gay, bisexual, lesbian, queer
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