Time to talk about love (and lust). Having intimate relationships is a psychological need and is highly beneficial to mental health. There are multiple factors that influence who we find ourselves drawn toward for these intimate relationships. Growing up I was familiar with gay, straight, and bisexual. As I have lived and learned I discovered that sexuality is not a grey scale but rather a broad spectrum of colors. Every time I have a conversation about sexuality, I get some of the same questions about some of the less known labels. Today I want to start by exploring what these terms describe.
Straight/Heterosexual– being attracted to the OPPOSITE sex
Homosexual– being attracted to the SAME sex
Bisexual– being attracted to both men and women, not necessarily equally
Androsexual– being attracted primarily to men and masculinity
Asexual– having little or no sexual attraction to anyone
Demisexual– having sexual attraction to someone only after a strong romantic relationship has developed
Gay– attracted to individuals of the same sex
Gynesexual– being attracted primarily to women and femininity
Lesbian– woman who is attracted primarily to woman
Pansexual– being attracted to individuals from all sexes, genders, and forms of expression
Queer– being attracted to anyone outside of the opposite sex
You may notice a lot of these definitions include ‘primarily‘ which means that there may be some deviation. Biologist Alfred Kinsey studied human sexuality and found that sexuality was variant and occurred on a continuum and that is reflected in the non-absolute terms above.
The next topic about sexuality that we need to address is the word preference. Preference implies a choice that is made, sexual orientation is not a choice. We may find that we have preferences within our orientation, such as we tend to prefer or be more attracted to masculine traits. I have heard people infer that when an adult comes out they have ‘become’ something that they were not, “now she is gay“. This is not accurate, what happens is that with maturity and self-expectance, the person decides to live a more honest and congruent life. I was raised straight, I dated males, I have even married one. As I began to breakdown my own inner barriers I accepted that I was also attracted to women, in fact I really didn’t find sex or gender a factor in my attraction and embraced the fact that I am pansexual. I did not change my orientation, what I did change was my willingness to except myself and the variations in my attraction to others.
Human sexuality and sexual orientation are topics that cannot be completely explored in a single article. There are mounds of research and sources galore to provide more in-depth information about them. My hope is that by providing bit sized pieces we can all learn to be more aware of the beautiful variations that give our world its color. For resources, references and to learn more click here.