Sexuality, especially in America, is so suppressed. We are founded from a puritan society. A history of women as property with celibacy reigning supreme for young girls auctioned off to 40 year old men. Hundreds of years later, the same dynamic still whispers in the background. A dialogue of women being coined sluts for being sexual. A dialogue of men being applauded for engaging in sexual behaviors. Where virginity is an emblem of purity for women and a token of shame for men. One gender urged to keep theirs and the other urged to cast theirs away as soon as possible.
How do we step back from this weird power struggle over sex between genders and focus on sex with the self. Sexual identity should be a precursor to having sex, but it almost never is. At least for me, I was so detached from my own sexuality when I became sexually active. I had barely considered that I might be attracted to multiple genders or *gasp* not attracted to men.
We are often sexualized before we get the chance to be sexual. From an early age girls start to feel their worth as defined in the eyes of a man. Any female ever has experienced this on some level.
I saw sex as an act and not an extension of myself, my desires, and my identity.
It has taken me so so long to even begin to think about what my sexual preference is because I have always been commodifying myself for men in a sense. It’s always automatically assumed that you are straight. Almost all mainstream media is exclusively male-female relationships. Thankfully that has changed in the past few years, but growing up I never saw a character that liked their own gender. Or multiple genders. Or maybe didn’t experience any attraction at all.
Then introduces the concept of “coming out”. Where you have to let people know that you aren’t straight, because that’s the automatic assumption. That one day we have to define our sexual parameters to family and friends and stick to those.
But sexuality is fluid, as I’m sure you have heard a thousand times before. It’s impossible to stick a buoy in a churning ocean and declare that no waves will pass by this point, and the tide will never rise or lower. Our emotions change on a daily basis. Our feelings towards people change on a daily basis. Attraction is an emotional experience, which we have very few words to properly define. Emotions are meant to be felt and expressed and not trapped in a single word.
I personally hesitate to define myself at all. Even though I have liked both genders, I accept that it may not be the case for my present or for my future self. I leave the doors open to whoever or whatever may happen in my life. If I were to set a definition on my sexuality, it would mean that I had figured it out and was done searching that part of myself, and I definitely have not.
Defining your sexuality however can be crucial to finding who you are. It can help your friends and family have a better understanding of you and give you the proper support you need. Even simply saying “I don’t identify as straight” can stop people from making assumptions. You can find accepting groups and people who are going through similar experiences. If you identify as LGBTQ+ that is amazing, but also leave yourself some room to extend beyond a definition. You are human and our experiences are so malleable. Live your fullest and be proud of yourself for being your most authentic self.
Here is a brief crash course in sexuality in case you have never been told that there is more out there than gay or straight- way more. An entire spectrum of sexuality. I kept them short & sweet to be more open instead of more definitive.
Straight: A person who experiences attraction to their opposite gender.
Gay: A person who experiences attraction to their same gender.
Bisexual: A person who experiences attraction to 2+ genders.
Pansexual: A person who experiences attraction to people regardless of gender idenitty or expression
Asexual: A person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction to anyone
Demisexual: A person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction to anybody unless a strong emotional connection is present.
Fluid: A person who experiences change in preference or attraction