For those who don’t know, a sexuality is a state of sexual attraction. It can also be called sexual preference, sexual expression or sexual orientation. It is not the same thing as sex or gender. Sex refers to what one is biologically; male or female (plus a barely-known 3rd category called intersexual). Gender refers to roles that society, families and peers influence people to adopt (or reject), which starts happening at a very early age. Sexuality, on the other hand, refers to one’s likes/ sexual urges.
Most people in the West have been raised in a paradigm that says one’s sexuality (whatever it is) is genetically determined and therefore immutable. Despite the search for the “gay gene” or any genes that are related to sexuality, none have been found. See NARTH for further reading.
|Dean Hamer, American geneticist who tried (and failed) to find
a definitive biological origin for sexuality.
Though he admitted his failure, nowadays the gay lobby claims he succeeded!
Anyway, here they are:
heterosexual: also known as straight, hetero or het. Its prefix hetero- is from Greek heteros and means other/ another. This is when one has sexual attractions for someone of the opposite sex (ie. female liking male, male liking female). This is and always has been the norm for humans; we wouldn’t have made it to 6.8 billion without it!
homosexual: also called homo, gay* or bent. Its prefix homo- also comes from Greek, homos, and means same. This is when one has sexual attractions for someone of the same sex (ie. female liking female, male liking male). However, in common usage it tends to allude just to the male variety.
* Note: until the 1940s gay meant happy, merry, joyful. This meaning hasn’t completely died out.
lesbian: specifically female homosexuality. As far as I know there’s no male-only equivalent.
bisexual: also called bi, ambisexual and ambisextrous. This prefix is from Latin – bini which means double or twice, while ambi- (Latin) means both. This refers to when one has sexual attractions for both sexes, and is often seen as a kind of crossroad/ state of “confusion” between gay & straight.
transsexual: more of a sexual/gender identity than a sexuality. Also called tranny, transie, transgender, MTF (male-to-female), FTM (female-to-male), transman (FTM) and transwoman (MTF). The prefix trans is Latin and means across, beyond or through. This means someone who either has been surgically altered to have the features of the opposite sex or wants to be, often because of a belief of having been “born in the wrong body”.
Note that surgery only affects physical appearance, it can’t affect one’s sex (because sex is genetically fixed) and doesn’t necessarily affect sexuality. MTFs can like either women or men (or both), as can FTMs.
(Note: intersexual is not synonymous with transsexual. An intersexual is someone whose natural phenotype [physical features] can’t be pinpointed as specifically male or female. This can be because of intrauterine [in the womb] hormonal imbalances or unusual chromosome combinations that cause genetic females to exhibit male gentials – or vice versa. This is to do with biology and therefore doesn’t affect sexual attraction. Also be aware that intersexuals are not the same thing as hermaphrodites, though they used to be. Hermaphrodites are organisms [most likely not humans] whose genitals work just like those of males and females. This is completely normal in many invertebrates)
pansexual: means someone whose sexual attractions aren’t limited to any biological sex or gender identity (ie. includes intersexuals, transsexuals and everyone else). This means they’re more inclusive than even bisexuals. The prefix pan- is Greek and means all or every (as does the Latin omnis). Synonyms include gender-blind and omnisexual.
LGBT: an acronym for lesbian, gay, bi and transsexuals. It’s effectively a catch-all term to mean pretty much anyone who’s not straight.
Here are some sexualities that are usually ignored or not known about:
asexual: someone who has no sexual desires. This is not the same as being celibate or virgin. Celibacy is when someone chooses to abstain from sex for whatever reason, but this doesn’t mean they stop feeling sexual desires. A virgin is someone who’s never had sex (yet).
demisexual: a person who only gains sexual attraction to someone they have strong emotional attachments with. Part of the grey-A, which describes a range of states between sexual & asexual. Sounds like the perfect romantic, but in practice it doesn’t quite work like that because sexuals often initially see them as ‘just friends’ and thus may not see them as potential partners.
antisexual: a person who believes sexual activity or sexuality is wrong. This is pretty much the same as celibacy. Such people may still have sexual impulses but just ignore them. Funnily enough, it is possible for antisexuals to form romantic relationships – they just don’t include intercourse.
|Alfred Kinsey himself.
Look how he’s eyeing up that woman!
Remember in About me when I called myself Kinsey 0 heterosexual? This refers to the Kinsey scale (aka. heterosexual-homosexual rating scale), a method of assessing one’s sexuality named after Alfred Charles Kinsey. This scale goes from 0 to 6 (plus an 8th category called X):
0 = completely straight
1 = predominantly straight
2 = somewhat more straight than gay
3 = slap-bang in the middle, ideal bisexual
4 = somewhat more gay than straight
5 = predominantly gay
6 = completely gay
X = asexual
As you’ve seen, there are many more sexual preferences and identities than are accounted for on this scale. Mind you, this is only 1 of over 200 sexuality rating scales. See Wikipedia for more info.
So there you have it, sexualities. Note that due to its behavioural/ psychological nature sexuality is unfixed and can be changed, though often with considerable effort. In fact, NARTH specialises in helping gays become straight if they so choose, and advocates recognition of the mutability of sexuality (which the American gay lobby wishes to deny). To some this sounds ludicrous, or even homophobic, but it’s a truth that’s being very actively suppressed.
(Update: as I wrote this post back when I was Muslim, I revoke this last part about NARTH. I wasn’t aware of the harm gay conversion therapies inflict, not to mention the moralistic/ condescending Christian undertones. Of course people can in theory choose to change their sexuality, but the issue is why they want to change. That still works on the underlying assumption that some sexualities are “wrong”. Regardless of the nature-nurture debate around sexuality, it’s wrong for anyone to say any of them are wrong. As long as the attraction/ activity is between mutually consenting adults and no physical/ mental harm is caused, it’s all good.)