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Concept Introduction: Bisexuality and Beyond

31 Oct

In this blog post, I hope to introduce some terminology to describe sexualities beyond heterosexual and homosexual. If I miss a term you have heard or identify with, or define something slightly differently than how you may view it, please comment with your opinions, and add your voice to the conversation!

Bisexuality: Kinsey was one of the first few researchers to suggest that sexualities beyond homosexual and heterosexual may exist, with his development of the Kinsey Scale. According to this scale, people may be anywhere from entirely attracted to one gender or another, to attracted by certain degrees to different genders. Some people suggest that bisexuality is only true bisexuality if somebody is equally attracted to both genders. Others contest the use of the term bisexual, because the prefix bi- indicates a gender binary, and is only inclusive of male-identified and female-identified persons and attractions.

Pansexual/Omnisexual/Polysexual: These three terms are frequently used interchangeably to mean similar ideas. Pansexuals often reject the gender binary, opening their romantic and sexual attraction to individuals of all gender identities and expressions. A pansexual individual may root their attractions in qualities other than gender and genitals. For example, as a pansexual, I may say, “I am attracted to kindhearted, long haired, nontraditional individuals that enjoy cooking, are curious and adventurous, and are avid communicators.” These qualities exist outside of gender.

PoMosexual: This label is short for Post Modernist Sexuality. It springs from a kind of rebellion against community labels that come with a set of expectations of dress, behavior, or attraction. It is essentially a label that rejects labels, embracing a sexual orientation and identity that is dynamic, fluid, and evolving. This suggests that the qualities and gender identities somebody is attracted to may shift and change throughout life stages, and labels are not inclusive of the diversity of romantic and sexual attraction people may feel throughout their lives.

Heteroflexible/Homoflexible: This term may be used to refer to people who are primarily attracted to one gender, but find a partner or partners of the other gender that they are attracted to romantically, and/or for specific sex acts. This may be a general relationship kind of attraction, or only exist in certain contexts.

Despite over 50 years of social discourse about the possibility of individuals identifying as something other than heterosexual or homosexual, it still remains a contested identity in many circles. Bisexual individuals may be viewed as closet homosexuals reluctant to give up hetero privilege, heterosexuals experimenting for fun or to attract a lover of the opposite sex, confused, greedy, or over-sexed. Media representations of bisexual individuals often feed these stereotypes.

I would like to challenge tendency to develop labels and stereotypes that trap and constrain. I think, especially within the queer community, it is important that we are able to celebrate all experiences of sexual and romantic attraction and affection, and not discount any group for failing to stringently adhere to one definition or another. Individuals should not need to put their identity on trial every time they experience attraction outside of the label society has come to accept for them, nor should ones past attractions dictate the future of their romantic endeavors.

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