CW: This article features content of sexual nature which may be NSFW.
Pick & mix
Bigger than just food
Preferences are what separate us from one another, varying from what we like to eat, drink, wear, etc. No matter how big or small, individual preferences are often judged positively and negatively by others who may agree or disagree. Preferences of sexual orientation and what we individually find attractive are also subject to the relatively similar judgement as if we were picking chocolate over liquorice in the Pick and Mix section.
However, this is a more sensitive topic than that.
Brief history lesson
Over the course of the past decade or so, the discussion of sexuality and sexual preferences has evolved rapidly from being a very taboo and private topic to now being a more openly discussed topic (though still a sensitive topic). As well as the transformation and diversification of sexual orientation and preferences.
The viewpoint of sexual orientation for the longest time had been very linear in the sense of the ideology that cis males and cis females are only capable of sexual relationships (heterosexuality), which also strung along the idea of marriage and the 'Nuclear Family' These were heavily conveyed and reinforced in not just Western culture but all other cultures across the globe via parents conditioning it to their children, media representation of only if not, mainly straight/heterosexual relationships.
Among many of the social movements that had a phenomenal impact on our current society, such as the second wave of feminism and the civil rights movement, the gay liberation movement had been relatively recent in the broader picture of history. The late 1960s was the start of the gay liberation movement which spanned across the Western world (United States, Europe, Canada, etc). The aim of the gay liberation movement was for the increased acceptance and rights of LGBT people.
Since then, we as a society have come far and progressed in our ideologies and acceptance of differences. However, there are still a good amount of rough edges per se as we still need to smooth out. Indicating that there is still a lot of work to be done for true acceptance of sexual orientation and preference differences, as only in 2013 the UK had legalised same-sex marriage (a massive milestone for LGBT rights).
We are now at the stage of being able to discuss the topic of our sexual orientation and preferences more openly and most importantly the ability to do so honestly with each other rather than having to lie in order to avoid negative connotations or adhere to (previously unwavering) social norms.
Unfortunately, we still have more work to do (previously mentioned) as LGBT people who are not raised in culturally diverse households such as those being BAME or heavily religious backgrounds, who cannot speak out or come out to their families even though they would want to. Luckily, this is not always the case as some do get accepted for coming out in those types of households, as a good example would be my discussion of the topic with my Vietnamese Buddhist parents who would be very accepting of the hypothetical me being LBGT and them even stating that in Buddhism it's believed that LGBT people tend to be prosperous in their ventures. This shows that the views of sexual preferences have started to progress in ethnic households, which is excellent for the continuation of LGBT awareness and acceptance.
Though I have emphasised a lot about sexual orientation, sexual preferences can also be referred to as other things such as what people like to do in the bedroom and their kinks such as bondage and dogging, or the ideal appearance type that would be most attractive to someone such as the emo style and old money style. These are not as significant as the topic of sexual orientation in terms of the political landscape, but I think it is important to acknowledge that these other preferences had been misrepresented or underrepresented until the recent development of social media and technology, which had bridged the gap between all cultures and beauty standards.
Such as for me as an Asian person, growing up in the predominantly white town of Wigan, there was only the representation of blonde Caucasian females being the pinnacle of attractiveness for the straight male and nothing else. I disagreed with this notion, as my preference is Asian females, but whenever I would bring it up in 'lads' conversations it would be overlooked because Asians weren't viewed as 'attractive' but rather 'weird'. Luckily, with the rise of social media, I am able to see the different types and categories of people who would be 'unattractive' in Wigan are seen as very attractive and heavily sought after on social media. Especially in my case, this gave me a great amount of confidence in my sexual preferences, which some of you will resonate with.
We have achieved a lot with the increased acceptance of our differences in sexual preferences, as well as getting even better with it with time, such as with other social problems like mental health. To do your part in being more inclusive of sexuality and preferences, I hope you will bring up this topic with family, friends, and maybe even strangers (you may gain new and different perspectives). This is vital to our development as a society to become more open-minded.