Sexual orientation is not as simple as it initially appears. The term ‘sexual orientation’ is about one’s sexual attraction, but also about: intimacy, forming a family and finding a partner with whom one has a strong emotional, spiritual, and physical attraction or relationship. Sexual orientation is a descriptor of overall attraction to the same-sex (lesbian, gay), and the opposite sex (heterosexual) or either sex (bisexual).
One view is to consider “sexuality” and “gender” to be on a continuum. Each of us can be found on that continuum between male and female, homosexual and heterosexual. Using this model demonstrates that we all have a ‘sexual orientation’. Many people only recognize that they have a ‘sexual orientation’ when the place they occupy on the continuum becomes problematic for those around them. Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth often become aware of being gay, lesbian or bisexual sometime during adolescence.
Sexual orientation refers to the gender of the person we are attracted to, whereas gender identity refers to the gender each of us identify as.