Last week I talked about gender and this week I’ll be discussing sexuality. I imagine this will not be a very hard concept to grasp since the vocabulary surrounding sexuality have been pretty much everywhere for the past couple of years.
Again, I am not an expert, I am not 100% accurate to everybody’s definitions, and I don’t include everything. Please forgive me if the descriptions below are incomplete.
Sexuality is at its heart is who you feel sexually attracted to. That is, of course, closely tied to who you are romantically interested in but as you’ll see next week, there’s a difference.
First off, there’s heterosexual— where a person of certain gender is interested in the opposite gender. Heterosexual people are commonly referred to as straight and many monotheistic religions view heterosexuality and heterosexual couples as the only ‘right’ type of pairing (a girl loves a boy, a boy has fallen for a girl, that kind of thing).
Then there is the ‘LGBTQA+’. The acronym LGBTQA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer, and Asexual/Aromantic. Here are what each of them mean:
Lesbian is a woman who is attracted to other women and gay is a man who is attracted to other men. Both of these can be enveloped by simply homosexual: attracted to the same sex.
Bisexual: a person who is attracted to men and women and possibly other genders.
T stands for transgender which you can find more about in the article on gender and Q for questioning: all those who are not sure about their sexuality; and also queer: used as an umbrella term by people who aren’t straight or cisgender (see the gender article). ‘Queer’ can also be used as a slur.
Without a letter but still here are pansexuals: people whose attraction is not based on gender. Sometimes pansexuals call themselves gender-blind, simply because gender is not a factor when it comes to physically liking somebody. To confuse things a little, there are polysexuals: interest varies. Polysexuals might be solely into non-binary genders (everything that is not the standard male and female), they might be into binary genders, some genders can be excluded and some not.
Finally, there’s an A (and no, this is not a Pretty Little Liars reference). Asexuals are people who experience little or no sexual interest. Don’t confuse this with celibacy; celibacy is a choice or a requirement (if you’re a nun, or a monk, or a priest). Asexuality means you truly and really don’t care about sex, but they can and do fall in love. Romantic relationships are not only about sex.
There’s also ‘grey sexuality’— people who are on the fence about both sexuality and asexuality. This can also be called demisexuality or semisexuality. Demisexuals have to feel a strong emotional or romantic connection with their partners before they have sex.
There’s also an alternative way of describing attraction; androphylia: sexual attraction to men and masculinity, gynephilia: to women and feminity, ambiphilia: to both. It’s a better way of saying who likes who when one person’s gender is not specified. Say you have a couple of one cis-gender female and a genderfluid person who would be traditionally considered female but isn’t. They are not lesbians, simply because they are not two women. So gynephylic it is,
And there it is: sexuality. Questions, notes, observations, corrections?
(I can’t stress this enough, so here we go again: it doesn’t matter what’s it called. What matters is that you respect both yourself and others.)