There are a few different sexual orientations. Three common sexual orientations are:
- Heterosexual, hetero, straight
You fall in love with or are sexually attracted to people with a different gender than yours.
- Homosexual, homo, gay, lesbian
You fall in love with or are sexually attracted to people with the same gender as yours.
- Bisexual, bi, pansexual
You fall in love with or are sexually attracted to people no matter what their gender.
You do not need to decide your sexual orientation. Your sexual orientation can also change throughout your life.
Having done something sexual with a person of a certain gender does not necessarily mean that you have that sexual orientation. Similarly, you do not have to have done something sexual with someone to have a particular sexual orientation.
You cannot tell a person’s sexual orientation by looking at them. This does not affect interests or appearance.
It is common to think about your sexual orientation, especially if you do not feel heterosexual. This might be because other people seem to think that you are heterosexual. If this is true, you might feel lonely or different.
You can love whoever you want
It is your right to love whoever you want. You have the right to live your life as you wish. You can marry a person of the same sex as you as long as you both want to and are over the age of 18. You can also have sex with whoever you want, as long as both you and those you have sex with want to and are old enough.
In Sweden, it is not a crime to be gay, bi or straight.
You decide if you want to tell others
You decide if you want to tell others about your sexual orientation.
A person who is heterosexual does not usually need to tell other people since most people will expect them to be heterosexual. A person who is homosexual or bisexual may feel that they want to tell others since people might otherwise believe they are heterosexual.
You can get help and support
Sometimes it can be difficult or impossible to tell others about your sexual orientation. For instance, some people might think that homosexuality is strange or wrong.
You have the right to live as you wish, and you can get help if you need it.
Tell someone if you are treated badly or if you feel threatened. For example, a friend, the school nurse or someone at a Youth Guidance Centre (ungdomsmottagning). The people who work in schools and at the Youth Guidance Centre have an obligation to maintain professional secrecy.
There are also organisations that work with LGBTQI matters, for example, RFSL and RFSL Ungdom. Through them, you can make contact with other LGBTI people, join in activities or get help with legal issues. The network RFSL Newcomers is especially for people who are new in Sweden.
Check the Internet to see what is available where you live.
Illegal to discriminate
It can be discrimination if you are treated as less than equal to someone else because of your sexual orientation. This is illegal.
If someone is violent towards you because of your sexual orientation, this is a serious crime known as a hate crime.