The Ins And Outs of Sexuality

06/02/2014 13:41 GMT | Updated 07/04/2014 10:59 BST

For anyone, it can be hard to understand and relate to another person. This is especially so when it comes to sexual orientation. The majority identify as heterosexual/straight, whatever your preferred term; I prefer straight personally as it's the term I heard first. This creates two obstacles to acceptance of other orientations. First of all, a straight person will assume, based on the experience that most other people that they have met are also straight, that any other man or woman they come into contact with will be likewise. This can create shock and surprise when 'discovering' someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or asexual (LGBA). Many people in the LGBA community find this shock at the very least a hindrance to living as who they are.

This reaction of surprise is natural, and to expect otherwise of someone is somewhat unfair. This also leads to the idea that straight men should also 'come out' about their sexuality. When, in reality, does anyone have to come out? If it makes you feel more comfortable for others to know your sexual orientation then I say go for it; if you want to keep it personal then that's fine too. To dictate how others express their sexuality is daft because once you find out, how many times do you answer with- 'I thought so', or, 'that doesn't really change anything now I found out.'

As I say, it's hard to understand another person's preferences. For a straight man it is hard to understand why you wouldn't want a woman, the gender that you are attracted to. To be attracted to another man may seem alien and confusing. But really this is the same in not understanding those that are able to run marathons, solve complex mathematical equations, or any other activity different from yourself. That's just the way that person is. Your perception of the world is precisely that: your own. To truly see it as another's is just not possible. What is not acceptable is to have an intolerance to something that is different just because it is so.

As the Oxford dictionary says: Discrimination- the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

For a lot of viewpoints of the world, that can be fine and not have consequences: finding someone weird because they don't like bacon will never make sense in my head but I have come to terms with that. However, in talking about sexuality, something that is central to someone's identity and way of life, refusal for that reason is inexcusable. Someone may prefer a different gender to you just the same way as everyone has different preferences to positions, locations and types of sexual intercourse.

As humans we are also inquisitive. If we don't understand something we are likely to pursue a way of finding out more about it to try and have it make sense. That is why there are so many so called 'stupid questions' that encircles LGBA people. How many times are gay and lesbian people asked; 'do you have anal?' 'Do you receive?' 'Are you the woman or the man?' With bisexuals queried; 'Can you just not decide?' 'Are you really gay then?' 'Surely it's just a phase?'

Although annoying and often perceived as unpleasant or stupid, these attitudes are born from ignorance. If a person is not experiencing those feelings themselves, how can they be expected to understand? LGBA information is not given enough attention in schools currently and this leads to poor and unreliable resources being used more often. It is okay to not know something and ask a question to someone that they think will know the answer. If you would rather not answer then just say so. If faced with these questions, try to see them like any other personal question, unless they are not asked in an appropriate and respectful manner of course. For those with their innocent wonderings; remember that not all LGBA people will want to talk about their private lives, just as you may not want to divulge certain personal information about yourself.

Should someone be blamed for not knowing something just because you do? But also, is it respectful to ask someone about their private lives just because you don't know? Understanding other sexualities takes time, and acceptance for those people different from you will follow when this void is filled. The LGBA community will still take time to be accepted and treated equally in the passing of acts such as for Equal Marriage just as there are still inequalities for those that are of non-white ethnicity in predominantly white Great Britain. This applies to women too. Social change for the better does occur slowly unfortunately, in parallel to the evolution of our own being.

Discrimination is the cancer to progress in society. Learn more about LGBT history this month of February.