female peers, because they will regard his behavior as “queer” and stigmatize him (Gagnon, 2004).
suggests that someone wants to explore his or her sexual attractions and feelings for
the same gender, without abandoning the social identity as being heterosexual or bisexual. It is important
to understand how sexual orientation, sexual attractions, and gender conformity intersect in such a
Early research stated that youths who engaged in homosexuality were simply confused and in transition
to heterosexuality. Subsequent research concluded something very differently: The youths were not
confused about their LGBTQ orientation. Rather, they were confused about how to express their same-
sex attractions in a society defined by compulsory heterosexuality (Herdt & Boxer, 1993).
People who are queer or questioning are also challenging how sexual attraction, sexual orientation, and
gender go together. For example, more than half of all youth occasionally engage in sexual behaviors with
the same sex, such as kissing or sexual intercourse, as found in a sample of about 20,000 youths from
the public schools in Massachusetts and Minnesota. Yet, these individuals still identified themselves
(Garofalo et al., 1999; Remafedi et al., 1992). “We don't like putting ourselves in boxes,”
some young people say.
HOMOSEXUALITY, DISCRIMINATION, AND STIGMA
Discrimination against LGBTQ people may profoundly shape the development and expression of their
orientation in much the same way that racism affects how people of color grow up, develop self-
awareness, and behave in their lives (Herek, 2004; Meyer, 1997). Many in society have an irrational fear
and hatred of homosexuality and homosexuals; this attitude can have a negative impact on the real-world
experiences of LGBTQ individuals. The majority of LGBTQ people grow up having experienced
harassment and discrimination in one form or another (Cianciotto & Cahill, 2010).
Accumulating research evidence, however, supports the idea that positive acceptance of sexual diversity
makes a difference in how people feel about their lives and opportunities to develop sexual well-being
(Diamond, 2008; Vrangalova & Savin-Williams, 2012). Until the U.S. Supreme Court struck down