Skip to main content

LGBTI+ sexual identity and orientation

Sexual identity and sexual orientation are part of what makes you who you are. Sexual orientation is your sexual preference for people of the same or opposite sex, or to both sexes.

Sexual identity is the label that you might use to let others know who you are as a sexual being.

LGBTI+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.

Coming out

"Coming out" is the term used by LGBTI+ people to describe their experience of discovery, self-acceptance, openness and honesty about their LGBTI+ identity and their decision to disclose - to share this with others when and how they choose

Whoever you are, or whatever your circumstances, coming out can be a challenging time. LGBTI+ people may be afraid that family and friends might reject them when they find out they are LGBTI+. This can put a strain on your mental health

Most people know they are LGBTI+ for some time before they decide to tell others. This can be a challenging experience, but a rewarding one.

Most people get a positive and supportive response from family and friends and feel happy that they made the decision to come out.

Bullying or harassment

LGBTI+ people can experience homophobic or transphobic bullying or harassment.

This type of bullying happens anywhere. For example, the classroom, the workplace, sports field or the home. Being bullied can make you feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable.

Bullying and harassment can cause physical, mental and social pain. It can make you feel alone, scared, angry, confused or sad. All of these can affect your mental health.

If you experience bullying or harassment, talk to someone about it. Speak to a colleague, counsellor, family member, friend or your GP.

Related topics

Bullying and harassment

Relationship problems

Sometimes relationships can be a source of pressure for people. You can feel pressure to be someone you're not or to do things you're unsure about. This can put a strain on your mental health.

Working on a new relationship can make it difficult for you to find enough time for your friends and family. When you start a relationship it is important to keep working on your existing friendships and family relationships.

Relationship break-up can also have a powerful impact on your mental health. It can bring a range of emotions. These can be uncertainty for the future, anger, sadness, loneliness and isolation.

Relationship break-up can be more difficult if you are a parent. This is because you also have to deal with the impact on your children. It can be difficult to adjust to a new situation and this can affect your mental health. It's important to get support to help you through this difficult time.

When an LGBTI+ person loses their partner, they may not get the same reaction or support a heterosexual person gets.

People may fail to appreciate what your partner meant to you and the love you had for each other. Experiences like this can make grieving more difficult for LGBTI+ people.

Lack of support from family or friends

Some LGBTI+ people can experience a lack of support from family and friends. This may happen when you first come out, when you get into a relationship, start a family.

This can be hurtful and harmful to your mental health. Sometimes families, in particular parents, don't know how to support LGBTI+ family members. Some may need some support themselves. Information and support are available for LGBTI+ people and their parents.

Supports for LGBTI+ people and family

LGBT Helpline - 1800 929 539

The LGBT Helpline is a non-judgmental and confidential service. It provides listening, support and information LGBTI+ people and their family and friends.

They also provide support for those questioning if they might be LGBTI+. In addition, they promote instant support messaging and peer support groups around the country.

Young people

BeLonGTo Youth Services has a variety of supports and information for young LGBTI+ people and their parents.

Transgender support

The Transgender Equality Network Ireland has information and support for transgender people.

General Information

There are libraries of information, personal stories and advice for LGBT people and their families on and

Related Content

page last reviewed: 23/09/2018
next review due: 23/09/2021

Do you need to talk to someone right now?

Free call Samaritans 116 123