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Information about sexual diversity and identity, and where to get help if you want to come out or need advice.

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?

The term sexual orientation is used to describe who you are romantically or sexually attracted to. Your sexual orientation could be to the opposite gender (heterosexual), the same gender (gay or lesbian), both men and women (bisexual), all genders (pansexual) or neither (asexual).

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 2SLGBQIA+ stand for?

2SLGBTQIA+ is one of several acronyms that reflect sexual diversity. There are others that you may see that are longer or shorter, including but not limited to LGBT2Q, LGBT, LGBTQ and TNB2S.

Here are the different definitions that make up 2SLGBTQIA+

2S means Two-Spirit: A term used by an Indigenous person to describe their spiritual, gender and sexual identity.

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.

T means Trans or Transgender: Trans or Transgender is an umbrella term that describes a wide range of people whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex at birth.

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.

I means Intersex

A means Asexual

+ means additional identities: As society changes, attitudes to sexual identity and the terms used can also change.

NB means non-binary: Non-binary is a term that refers to diverse people whose gender identity is neither female nor male. Some individuals self-identify as non-binary, whereas, other may use terms such as Gender Non-conforming, Genderqueer, or Agender. Non-binary people may or may not conform to societal expectations for their gender expression and gender role, and they may or may not seek gender-affirming medical or surgical care.

Get more information about 2SLGBTQIA+.

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 2SLGBTQIA+ 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

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 2SLGBTQIA+ 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
  • 2SLGBTQIA+ support groups at colleges and universities
  • Local support services for 2SLGBTQIA+ 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
    Qmunity provides personal support and counselling services for queer and trans people of all ages to live healthier, happier lives.
  • Trans Care B.C.
    Trans Care B.C. provides information and support for people in B.C. to gender-affirming health and wellness care.
  • Health Initiative for Men (HIM)
    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.

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