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What Does it Mean to Be Gay?

From Sex to Community, GLBT Teens Wonder: What is Gay Life Really Like?


A lot of people, both gay and straight, wonder what it means to be gay. Obviously, being gay refers to having a sexual orientation that is directed towards people of one's own gender. But for many people, being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender also impacts friendships, social life, community participation, cultural experiences and activism, as well as things like dating and sex. As a result teens often wonder, what is gay life really all about?

1. What is Gay Culture?

gay prom cake
Image (c) adaenn

Just like there is no universal definition of the word "culture," there is no one "gay culture." There are, however, museums, musicians, performances, books, and movies that reflect a GLBT experience or sensibility, and there are cultural events (like gay pride) that are created by or for the GLBT community specifically. Though a lot of GLBT cultural events are geared towards adults, more and more communities are hosting things like gay proms, so that GLBT teens can become involved in gay cultural life as well.

2. What is Gay Life?

Image (c) Jordan Silverman

A gay life experience is going to be different for everyone, but there are some elements to gay life that a lot of GLBT individuals share. For example, coming out, encountering homophobia, confronting equal rights, and navigating your family and friends, are all common issues that gay people face.

3. What is Gay Sex?

Image (c) kys

When it comes to "gay sex" a lot of people have a lot of misinformation. Many people assume, for example, that all gay men have anal sex and that all lesbians use sex toys. But for the record, there is no one sex act that all gay men do, and no one sex act that all lesbians do. That being said, there are some differences when sex occurs between two men or two women, and when it occurs between a man and a woman.

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