Canada is home to people with different sexual orientations and gender identities. Find information about sexual diversity and identity, and where to get help if you want to come out or need advice.
What is sexual diversity?
Sexual diversity can mean different sexual likes and dislikes. It is usually used with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity.
What is sexual orientation?
Sexual orientation means your sexuality and who you are mainly sexually attracted to. Your sexual orientation could be heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or another orientation (see HealthLinkBC for more on sexual orientation).
What is gender identity?
You are the only person who can decide your gender identity. Most people are born with a body that is clearly either male or female. This is your biological sex. However, not everyone feels that their biological sex reflects their true gender identity. Some may identify with a gender that is different than their assigned biological sex.
What does LGB2TQQ+ stand for?
LGB2TQQ+ is an acronym that changes to reflect changes to sexual diversity in society. You may be more familiar with the shorter acronym LGBTQ or LGBT2Q.
Here are the different definitions that make up LGB2TQQ+
L means Lesbian: A female who is mainly sexually attracted to females.
G means Gay: A male who is mainly sexually attracted to males.
B means Bisexual: A male or female who is sexually attracted to males and females.
2 means Two-Spirit: A term used by an Indigenous person to describe their spiritual, gender and sexual identity.
T means Transgender and/or Transsexual: Transgender means a person whose gender identity is not only female or male. Transsexual means a person whose gender identity is the opposite of their biological sex.
Q means Queer or Questioning: Queer is a term a non-heterosexual person might use to refer to themselves instead of gay, lesbian or bisexual. Questioning refers to a person who is still clarifying what their sexual orientation is.
+ means additional identities: As society changes, attitudes to sexuality identity and the terms used can also change.
Get more information about sexual diversity and LGB2TQQ+.
Sexual orientation and coming out
Coming out means telling people you know about your sexuality or gender identity. It usually happens after you have accepted it yourself, and feel comfortable enough with it to tell others. For most people, ‘coming out’ is a very scary and difficult process. Some may fear the reaction of others, or perhaps some have their own prejudices toward LGB2TQQ+ people.
Why come out?
Although difficult, there are some good reasons to come out.
- Living a more open life
- Reducing stress, fear of being ‘caught’
- Connecting with others in a similar situation
- Becoming closer to people around you
There are also risks.
- Some people may not accept you for who you are
- Some of your relationships might change
- You may experience discrimination or harassment
Take a look at more benefits and risks of coming out.
Some tips for coming out
When and how to come out is your decision. Here are some things to consider:
- Who should you tell?
- How do you think they will react?
- If you live at home, will your parents react so badly that you might have to leave home?
- Should you tell some people and not others at first?
- Is there someone you know will react positively who you can tell first?
- Do you know anyone who is openly LGB2TQQ+ to confide in?
- Is there a safe place where you feel comfortable that you can tell someone?
Support and counselling
You are not alone. Consider connecting with people in the gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities in your area. Here are a few types of support you can look into:
- “Gay/straight” alliances at high schools
- LGB2TQQ+support groups at colleges and universities
- Local support services for LGB2TQQ+people.
- Your health care provider
- A school counsellor or teacher you can trust
Here are some other places to help you find information and support:
Qmunity provides personal support and counseling services for queer and trans people of all ages to live healthier, happier lives.
THiP provides information and support, including support groups, for transgender people.
HIM is a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the health and well-being of gay and bisexual men. They have programs and services for physical, sexual, social and mental health. Specialized health promotion and clinical services are available in New Westminster, Surrey and Abbotsford, as well as Vancouver.