Today’s blog post is all about sexual orientation. We will look at the definition as well as different terminology.
What is sexual orientation? It is the term used to describe an individual’s sexual, psychological and emotional feelings of attraction towards another person. In other words, sexual orientation is a person’s affection and sexual attraction towards other people.
Before we look at sexual orientations, I would like to explain Heterosexism. This is the assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that this sexual orientation (heterosexual) is superior. For example, asking someone who identifies as a boy, “Do you have a girlfriend?” “When are you going to bring a nice girl home?” You know what I am talking about…. Be neutral when asking these types of questions, for example: “Do you have a special someone?” “Is there someone at school or at work that interests you?” These questions are open-ended and neutral and will show the person you are asking that you are open minded and don’t have a heteronormative mindset. We need to be sensitive and aware that some individuals, young or old, may be questioning their sexual orientation or might be unsure of their sexual orientation. Being a neutral and inclusive friend or family member, can make the person feel at ease and feel comfortable to be themselves.
Children, teenagers and adults who get to the stage of wanting to tell someone about how they are feeling want to be able to speak to someone who will not judge them and will remain silent until they are ready. In most cases, the individual will choose someone they know who is an Ally. Being an Ally is someone, regardless of their own sexual orientation, who supports the human, civil and sexual rights of sexual minorities.
We also know and hear the term Queer. This is an umbrella term used by some to describe members of the LGBTQ+ community. The term has been reclaimed by members of the community from previous derogatory use but some members of the community may not wish to use it due to its historic connotations. Queer is also linked to 1990s Academic Queer Theory and for this reason, as well as is reclamation, is seen by many as inherently political. When Q is seen at the end of LGBTQ+, it typically refers to queer and, less often, questioning. (Brook, November 2019). The term QPOC/QTIPOC, stands for Queer People Of Colour or Queer, Transgender, and Intersex People of Colour. Queer people of colour experience intersecting oppressions based on race, gender, sexual orientation and other factors.
Let’s look at other terms of sexual orientations:
- Heterosexual: A person who is physically and emotionally attracted to someone of the opposite sex.
- Homosexual: A person who is physically and emotionally attracted to someone of the same sex
- Gay: this word refers to both male and female who are attracted to the same sex. Although this word is most used for men.
- Lesbian: A female who is attracted physically and emotionally to other females.
- Bisexual: A person who is attracted physically and emotionally to both male and female.
- Pansexual: Someone who is emotionally, sexually, and/or physically attracted to others regardless of gender identity.
- Polysexual: Someone who is sexually attracted to many genders.
- Asexual: Someone who experiences limited or no sexual attraction, interest or desire. (You can read my blog post on Asexuality here)
- Allosexual: Someone who experiences sexual attraction, desire or sexual interest directed at other people. The opposite of asexual.
There are two terms that may be confusing to people who think that if a man has sex with another man, they must be gay. The answer is No. The term is MSM, Men who have Sex with Men. Some men do not identify as being gay. They just have different sexual practices. This term is also used for women. So, WSW, Women who have Sex with other Women but do not identify as lesbian. They just have different sexual practices.
I hope this article has helped better understand the some different terminology.
If you have more questions please feel free to contact me on email@example.com. I will be more than happy to chat with you.
Be kind to one another!
Julia, Sexologist Blog
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