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Why am I gay?

Nobody knows for sure why some of us are gay and some of us are not. Lots of theories have been put forward ranging from genetic differences to overbearing parents. The evidence so far suggests that random genetic factors play a part in determining our sexuality in the same way they play a part in determining, for example, lefthandedness.

One thing we do know is that no-one chooses their sexuality. Some gay people knew they were different, if not gay, from as young as five or six. It is said that, for most of us, our sexuality is determined by the age of 12 or 13 and probably 16 at the latest. By and large, society tends to assume that everyone is, or wants to be, heterosexual. This is known as heterosexism. Some people continue to believe that it is a choice and that we can be persuaded into heterosexuality. By assuming heterosexuality, society gives rise to the dilemma, for those of us who know we are gay, of whether to hide our sexuality or to come out - with all that this entails.

There have been small but perceptible changes in the way British society views homosexuality, but there is a long way to go before it will accept us in the same way as it does people who are, say, lefthanded. This has more to do with society's hang-ups around sex and sexuality than individual gay people. Often, once people know someone who is gay, their prejudices and fears about homosexuality disappear all together.

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