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Welcome to Rainbow Youth. Skip directly to: main content or navigation.

Sexual identity

When we first realise we're not "normal" we begin a journey of self discovery. There are two key aspects to this exploration; sexual identity and gender identity. This page talks about sexual identity - about who you are attracted to.

What is being gay and how do I know if I am?

Being gay or homosexual is being attracted to and loving someone of the same sex as you. It's not always this black and white: you might like both boys and girls, or not be sure right now about who you're attracted to.

Stages of Queer Sexual Identity Development

There are lots of different ways to think about how people develop their queer identity. The stages we’ve got here on this page are generalisations, so they might not look like what you're experiencing. Hopefully, they're still helpful.

Identity confusion

What the hell is going on with me?

Up until now you’ve always thought you’re straight. Everyone expects you are. All of a sudden you’ve begin checking out people of your own gender. And it kind of freaks you out.

At this stage you might not be ready to say what you're thinking out loud. You might even deny what your're feeling if someone asks you about it. You might also start secretly looking for information (like on this site, which is a good place to start).

Identity comparison

What’s going on in other people’s love lives?

As you start getting used to your queer sexual/gender identity, you realise the difference between yourself and others. You may feel isolated or that you really don’t fit in with your family/whanau, friends or anyone else.

Identity tolerance

I guess its okay that I am different

You’ll start to get used to the fact that you’re queer. Yay! Now you can just get on with being yourself.

This might be when you start thinking about , and telling your friends and whanau.

Identity acceptance

I am who I am

Now you're not just used to the idea of being queer - you're okay with it.

When you're getting ready to come out, it's good to find out what the experience was like for other people; you could start by on our site. You might want now to meet more queer people, or even join a group; Raibow Youth runs several social groups in Auckland, and we also have lists of support groups in the North and South islands. check out the or this list of groups across New Zealand.

You might be heading towards feeling proud about being queer. At the same time, be aware you might start to feel angry about the time you wasted keeping things hidden.

Identity synthesis

Being queer is one aspect of my life, there are many others

At this stage, i't's all about just getting on with life. Being queer is no longer an issue. You know that there are times when it feels right to talk about your sexual identity, and times when you'd prefer not to. Other people's acceptance has become less, or not at all, important.

Want to find out more?

If these are things you're thinking about, Rainbow Youth can help. If you're in Auckland, you might like to visit our drop-in centre or think about joining our for GQ (Generation Queer) group for 13-20 year-olds, or I.D. (Identity) group for 18-27 year-olds.

You can also contact Rainbow Youth with your question, or try one of these phone lines or online chats:


Phone counselling for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, curious or questioning individuals
10am – 10pm
Phone (09) 303 3584 or Freephone 0800 OUTLINE (0800 688 5463)
Online Chat


Crisis/counselling Line
11am – 11pm daily
Phone (09) 376-6633 or Freephone 0800 37 66 33
Community face-to-face counselling is also available. Contact the Youthline office on (09) 376-6645 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday to make an appointment.

What’s Up

Free telephone counselling service for New Zealanders aged 5 to 18 years
12pm-12am (noon to midnight) 7 days week
Phone 00800 WhatsUp (0800 942 8787)


24-hour phone counselling
Phone (09) 522 2999

What we mean when we say queer

A reclaimed word that represents sexuality and gender diversity. We use it to encompass lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, fa'afafine, and takataapui identities, as well as everyone in between and not sure. This word is used by many people, but it is also appreciated that it is not the preferred term for everybody.

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