The great Who am I? There will come a time when you think about it – whether on your own accord or because of life circumstances. We are forced to look within ourselves, and analyse our thoughts and feelings. What might we look at? Our values, morals, personal style, our ambitions, and dreams. What about sexuality? In our current world, we are more and more exposed to non-heteronormative groups and ideas, which might raise questions within ourselves that we want to explore more.
Sexuality vs. Sexual Orientation
Sexuality is described as a person’s ability to experience or show sexual feelings.
Sexual orientation is the fact of someone being sexually or romantically attracted to people of a particular gender, or more than one gender.
Both are often used synonymously.
Do I Have to Label Myself?
A lot of people feel the need to put a label on things. It gives us a sense of understanding ourselves and our relationships with others. Labels exist for everything. Brand labels, informative labels, descriptive labels, grade labels, personal labels. Even though these might make it easier for you and others to understand you better, plenty of people decide to not label themselves at all – and that is okay.
Types of Sexualities
The spectrum of sexualities is broad, some might even find it a little overwhelming at times, but these are a few of the most common ones explained in a basic manner:
Asexual: Asexuality describes a person who experiences little to no sexual attraction. Despite limited to no sexual contact with a partner, asexual people can have successful relationships.
Bisexual: People who are attracted to both sexes.
Demisexual: Considered to be on the asexual spectrum, demisexual people only feel sexual attraction to individuals with whom they have an emotional bond with.
Gay: Men whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is to other men, including transgender men who are attracted to other men.
Heterosexual: A person who is sexually or romantically attracted to people of the opposite sex or gender.
Lesbian: Women who are sexually or romantically attracted to other women, including transgender women who are attracted to other women.
Pansexual/Omnisexual: Individuals who are attracted to people regardless of sex or gender.
Polysexual: Not to be confused with polyamory, polysexuals are people who feel attraction towards more than one gender.
Queer: Used as a slur in the past, the term has now been taken back by the community. Although not everyone who identifies as LBGTQ+ uses “queer” to describe themselves it has become an umbrella term for people who are not heterosexual or cisgender.
Questioning: People who are in the process of exploring their sexuality.
Why Should I Explore My Sexuality?
I don’t want to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. All I can say is that from personal experience and from listening to the people around me, exploring your sexuality can lead to you gaining better understanding about yourself as well as increase happiness in relationships and connections with others.
How Can I Explore My Sexuality?
Exploring your sexuality is a really personal and intimate process that may or may not also be a difficult one depending on your situation. The most important thing is to avoid comparing your journey to someone else’s. No one else matters in this but you.
Journaling: A good way to start your journey might be to ask yourself some questions. Have I ever been attracted to someone of the same sex? Or have you noticed you don’t feel sexual attraction to anyone at all? Do you not care at all about someone’s gender? Really listen to yourself. Write down your thoughts and look back on them.
Media: We are fortunate to exist in a place and time where media including LGBTQ+ people and themes is easily found. If you don’t know where to start, try listening to LGBTQ+ podcasts or YouTube channels. Listening to other people’s experiences and opinions can help you relate. Some examples of podcasts are: Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, Queerology, LGBTQ&A, Gayish.
Pride: Lead by a group of activists, the first Pride march was held in New York City on 28 June 1970. We have come quite a way since then with Pride festivities being held in at least 107 countries in 2021. Attending Pride might be impossible and dangerous for some but if you can, it is a fantastic way to engage with the wider LGBTQ+ community in a in-person way.