A note about the sexual identity of others

One thing that I think is missing in a lot of the Queer dialogue that I hear is the importance of self identification. What I mean is that it is impossible for you to label someone’s sexual orientation, only they can do that.

Now, there is a difference between sexual orientation and sexual identity.

Sexual orientation describes your desires. Who and what sets off the tingly feeling in your pants.

Sexual identity is how you label yourself.

These do not always align, I know plenty of women who are attracted to women who identify as ‘Queer’ rather than ‘lesbian’. In other cases, people who engage in homosexual activities may not identify as gay. There is a difference between men who have sex with men, and men who identify as gay. Just because I am dating another woman does not mean I identify as a lesbian.

Long story short, until someone tells you how they identify, you cannot assume their label, nor can you go about giving them a label.


More clarification for the sake of education….

In the field of Queer studies and lingo there is a recent increase in the emphasis on the difference between sexual and romantic attractions, and how the two may not be related. For some people, who you want to love and who you want to have sex with are not the same. New terms and labels such as panromantic homosexual are being thrown around left and right , so what follows is an overview of terminology that you may see in your Queer travels.

Note: traditional definitions of homo- and hetero- sexuality include both romantic and sexual attraction, the separation of the two is a very new concept that is not yet widely used. This list is just meant to help if you encounter someone who identifies as having different romantic and sexual orientations.

Homosexual: being sexually attracted to members of the same sex

Heterosexual: being sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex

Bisexual: being sexually attracted to both sexes and/or genders

Pansexual: being sexually attracted to people regardless of gender or sex

Asexual: not experiencing sexual attraction

Homoromantic: being romantically attracted to members of the same sex

Heteroromantic: being romantically attracted to members of the opposite sex

Biromantic: being romantically attracted to members of both sexes and/or genders

Panromantic: being romantically attracted to people regardless of gender or sex

Aromantic: not experiencing romantic attraction

Any combination of these terms is an acceptable identity. I was once almost-kinda dating a girl who identified as bisexual but was more aptly described as biromantic heterosexual because she wanted to hang out and flirt but didn’t want to have sex with me (which was frustrating). I know of a girl who identifies as a panromantic lesbian (romantically attracted to anyone, but only sexually attracted to other women.

Clearly, the concepts of love and sex and attraction are more complicated than originally anticipated…

Pansexuality vs. Bisexuality: an explanation for the sake of education

Pan– : from a Greek term meaning “all” or “every”

Bi- : also from a Greek term, meaning “two”

To identify as pansexual, as I proudly do, is to be “gender blind”. It refers to the potential to be sexually and/or romantically attracted to persons of all other gender identities and biological sexes. Gender and sex are insignificant or totally irrelevant when it comes to picking partners, and often the attraction is to the person’s personality rather than physical appearance or gender. Pansexuality rejects the notions of the gender binary and of specific sexual orientations.

Bisexuality implies a potential for romantic/sexual attraction to either both genders (man and woman) or both sexes (male and female). The literal definition of the word does not include intersex or gender nonconforming people the way that pansexuality does.

I am by no means saying that people who identify as bisexual are only attracted to two genders or are incapable of being attracted to people outside the gender binary. I just frequently hear absolutely nothing about pansexuals within Queer dialogues and I find it a bit frustrating. I understand that pansexuality is a “new” orientation, but I feel like we are largely forgotten about or lumped in with bisexuals.

There really is a difference between bisexuals and pansexuals, especially when it comes to preferences of sexual and romantic partners. Pansexuality and the way pansexuals feel attraction is often entirely gender blind and personality based. Almost, in my case, borderline demisexual (Def: a person who does not experience sexual attraction until they form a strong emotional connection with someone). I do not see people on the street and think, “Wow, he/she is really hot. I want to have sex/date him/her.” My sexual attraction to people is very very much based on personality and almost nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the aesthetics of attractive people, but I do not experience it as sexual attraction.

I’d like to see a greater discourse about pansexual issues and ideas, as I feel that it is quickly becoming the “hot new” sexual orientation. I think it poses an interesting dialogue between the traditional ideas of sexual attraction and gender.

And mostly I  guess I would like to see recognition of the legitimacy of my sexual orientation.

Sexual Orientation Poll

Sexual Orientation in the City…?

In the great debate over whether or not sexuality is a choice, I want to punch Cynthia Nixon in the face. While I totally respect can tolerate that she thinks that maybe she is gay by choice, declaring it in that interview gives every anti-gay, homophobic asshole the ammunition to say, “Cynthia Nixon, a big gay herself, said its a choice so by George it must be!”

I don’t pretend to know exactly how sexual orientation is formed, and anyone who says they do is full of horse poopy, but there is an inherent problem in saying that it is EITHER genetic OR a choice. Which ever way it goes has complications…

Sexuality as a choice:

  • Gives every right-wing, conservative, religious, bastard the ammunition to say that if sexual orientation is a choice then one can just simply choose to stop being gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer.
  • However, there is some legitimacy in saying that one chooses to act upon their sexuality rather than live closeted. But this is in no way the same as saying that one chooses to be gay or straight.
  • If Cynthia Nixon, or other people, believe that they chose to be gay than it’s not really my place to say that they didn’t; I have no way of knowing how they feel or how their sexual identity developed.

Sexuality as something we are born with:

  • Some people are left-handed and some people aren’t. Some people are gay and some people aren’t. If its something we are born with than it’s just part of the natural variance within the human species and its nothing to be “changed” or “cured”.
  • But (as was pointed out to me in my Gender and Sexuality Studies class) saying that we were “born this way” implies that if we DID have a choice we would choose to not be this way, but we can’t because it is something that we were born with – like some kind of birth defect.

It’s not by any means a pretty argument.

In Cynthia’s defense, she later clarified her comment, saying that bisexuality is NOT a choice but being in a relationship with a woman is.

Advice of the Day: Think before you speak, or crazy closeted republicans are going to turn what you say into a reason to deny people basic human rights. And that sucks.