Sexual identity is a fundamental part of our self-concept, the set of all the things we believe about ourselves as individuals.

Unfortunately, there are two factors that make it possible for us to suffer too much because of our relationship with our sexual identity. On the one hand, the fact that sexuality is a taboo subject, something one tries not to talk about; and on the other hand, the long tradition of discrimination against unusual or “atypical” sexualities that exists in most cultures.

All this means that social pressure can lead to self-esteem problems, insecurities or even guilt about one’s sexual identity, and this is something that we psychologists see a lot when working with clients or patients.

In this article we will see several key ideas about the acceptance of sexual identity , which is composed of one’s ideas about one’s sexual orientation and the gender roles expressed in it.

The process of accepting sexual identity: 5 key ideas

If you think you may be having trouble accepting your sexual identity, consider the following:

1. Sexual orientation is not chosen

This is fundamental: sexual orientation, in the vast majority of cases, is not chosen. It is developed from many variables that affect us outside of our will . Just because of this fact, feeling guilty for having a certain sexual identity does not make sense, and should be understood as the consequence of a problem in the interaction with the environment in which we live (normally, the responsibility lies with the hate groups that are against sexual diversity).

Therefore, the solution is to assume that the main problem is not in oneself, but in a society that discriminates, and that what can be done by use itself is to be aware of this and to anticipate the guilty messages emitted by the media, discriminatory groups, etc . In this way, the discomfort is cushioned.

2. Reproduction does not govern life

One of the arguments most often used by those who spread homophobic ideas is to point out that the only non-pathological sexuality is heterosexuality, because it fits in with the designs of nature and allows for reproduction through the union between man and woman.

Thus, homosexual people would have a problem to solve for not being able to have biological children with the people they are attracted to, and something similar would happen with bisexual people and with asexual people and those who have very specific sexual tastes, for wasting opportunities and time on options that in theory do not allow the lineage to continue.

However, these ideas are not only very harmful socially and psychologically: they are also wrong . The reason is that human happiness does not depend on the possibility of having biological children, on the one hand, and that there are no designs of nature, on the other. In fact, making everything we do only make sense in light of whether it allows us to have offspring produces unhappiness and frustration, and history shows that the evolution of species doesn’t care at all whether a large part of the population has more or fewer children: species with a tendency to have many offspring can become extinct in a short time, and species with fewer offspring can survive, depending on the context.

3. Sex does not have to be taboo

There are no tastes that are in themselves a reason for embarrassment, as long as they do not harm anyone, Sometimes, social conventions and too rigid morality can lead us to develop totally avoidable frustrations. It is essential to be able to express ourselves freely about the aspects that make up our sexual identity, even if it means overcoming shame.

4. Lack of tolerance is not a problem for the victim

Unfortunately, not all people live in contexts where it is possible to express any sexual identity. In fact, in a large number of countries, doing so may jeopardize one’s physical integrity and the exercise of basic rights, either through laws or through unwritten rules.

It is important to keep this in mind, but not to let the fact that others are criminalizing us because of our sexual identity make us think that we have done something wrong. The main problem is not in oneself, but in society and the cultural dynamics (or in the law) that it still carries. From there, if we have trouble feeling coherent with this idea, we can work on those concrete symptoms, but not stop being who we are.

5. It is possible to accept and love each other

Finally, the most important thing regarding the acceptance of sexual orientation. Everyone can come to love and accept themselves for what they are, regardless of their sexual or love tastes or preferences.

It is true that to achieve this sometimes requires the assistance of psychologists who offer professional help, but this does not imply that the patient is worth less or is weaker. It is simply a reflection that sometimes to accept oneself it is necessary to undergo a profound personal transformation, something that is very difficult alone and without reference to what to do.

If psychologists are helpful in these situations it is because we have spent time and effort training and addressing these kinds of problems with other patients before, we have that advantage. But this process only lasts a few months, and in any case, the protagonist of the process of self-acceptance never stops being the one who seeks help; neither during nor after the psychological intervention.

Bibliographic references:

  • Bailey, J.M.; Vasey, P.; Diamond, L.; Breedlove, S.M.; Vilain, E.; Epprecht, M. (2016). Sexual Orientation, Controversy, and Science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 17 (2): pp. 45 – 101.
  • Rosario, M.; Schrimshaw, E.; Hunter, J.; Braun, L. (2006). Sexual identity development among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths: Consistency and change over time. Journal of Sex Research. 43 (1): pp. 46 – 58.
  • Brooks, Kelly D.; Quina, K. (2009). Women’s sexual identity patterns: Differences among lesbians, bisexuals, and unlabeled women. Journal of Homosexuality. 56 (8): pp. 1030 – 1045.