Some say that labels belong on clothes, not people. However, for some, having a label helps affirm and solidify their sexual identity; and so it’s important to at least have a basic understanding of the many different sexual orientations and identities that exist.
Though admittedly contentious, some studies suggest that human sexuality exists on a spectrum. The infamous Kinsey Scale can attest to this – developed in 1948 by Drs. Alfred Kinsey, Wardell Pomeroy, and Clyde Martin, the Kinsey Scale was based on the theory that an individual’s sexual orientation was fluid. Their research implied that an individual’s life experiences and/or responses could affect their romantic and sexual identities at any given time.
Also known as the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating scale, the Kinsey Scale had a scale of 0 to 6:
0 = exclusively heterosexual
1 = primarily heterosexual but might be slightly open or inclined towards homosexuality
2 = primarily heterosexual, but might be a little bit more open or inclined towards homosexuality
3 = equally heterosexual and homosexual
4 = primarily homosexual, but might be a little bit more open or inclined towards heterosexuality
5 = primarily homosexual and but might be slightly open or inclined towards heterosexuality
6 = exclusively homosexual
X = no inclination towards romantic and/or sexual attraction (asexuality)
Romantic Attraction vs. Sexual Attraction
Romantic attraction differs from sexual attraction in that the former is about the need and desire to develop and foster a romantic relationship outside of sex; while the latter is about sexual desire for something or someone. Therefore, people can want to have sex with someone but not want to have a romantic relationship with them and vice versa. This means that someone’s sexual orientation can differ from their romantic orientation – a good example are people who identify as aromatic. Aromatic individuals may desire to get down and dirty with someone but they have no desire to become romantically entangled with them. On the other hand, someone who identifies as asexual may desire a romantic relationship without the physical aspect of sex.
It’s important to understand that individuals do not need to experience and feel both romantic and sexual attraction in order to identify with a sexual identity or orientation.
Sexual Orientations from A to Z (well to T…for now)
The list of sexual and romantic orientations and identities are constantly evolving as more research and studies are conducted in order to be as inclusive as possible. The current term, LGBTQIA+ is an all-inclusive acronym that can be used to refer to individuals of all sexual and romantic orientations along with gender identities. The acronym, which can be traced all the way back to 1965, stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer / Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual.
Other sexual and romantic orientations and gender identities include:
Alloromantic – an individual who experiences romantic attraction and has the desire to foster romantic relationships with someone of the same or opposite sex or gender. However, they may not be inclined towards sexual attraction or have the desire for sex with someone.
Allosexual – an individual who experiences sexual attraction but may or may not act on their desire to have sex with someone; and may also identify with another sexual orientation.
Androgynous – an individual who possessions both feminine and masculine characteristics and may not fit into the societal definition or male or female.
Androsexual – an individual who is attracted to masculinity irrespective of whether or not the object of their attraction was born male.
Aromantic – an individual who typically does not feel romantic attraction but can or may feel sexual attraction towards someone.
Asexual – an umbrella term for individuals who may or may not feel sexual and/or romantic attraction. Studies imply that asexuality exists on a spectrum and that individuals may find themselves sliding from one end of the spectrum to another depending on their experiences and responses to others. Many individuals who identify as asexual refer to themselves as “Ace”.
Autoromantic – an individual who experiences romantic attraction towards themselves.
Autosexual – an individual who experiences sexual attraction towards themselves.
Bi-curious – an individual who is possibly interested in having a romantic and/or sexual experience with someone of the same sex. They may not be 100% sure of their sexual and/or romantic orientation.
Bisexual – an individual who is attracted to both sexes, sometimes equally or sometimes with an inclination towards one or the other.
Demiromantic – an individual who will only develop and feel romantic attraction towards someone they have established a strong emotional connection with
Demisexual – an individual who will only develop and feel sexual attraction towards someone they have established a strong emotional connection with
Gay – an individual, usually male, who is primarily romantically and sexually attracted to someone of the same sex. This term is also an umbrella word for those who are romantically and sexually attracted to the same sex.
Gender-fluid – an individual whose gender changes from one day to the next or over time. They may identify as male one day and female the next. They may prefer to use “they/them” pronouns.
Gynosexual – an individual who is attracted to femininity irrespective of whether or not the object of their attraction was born female.
Heterosexual – also known as “straight”, this is an individual who primarily experiences sexual and romantic attraction to the opposite sex.
Homosexual – an individual who is primarily attracted to the same sex. They can also be referred to as gay or lesbian.
Intersex – individuals who were born with reproductive organs that don’t typically fit into societal categories of “male” or “female”.
Lesbian – an individual, usually female, who is primarily romantically and sexually attracted to other women.
Non-binary – an umbrella term for individuals who don’t strictly identify as male or female. Some may see themselves as bigender (both male and female) or agender (neither male, female, or any identity or gender)
Omnisexual – an individual who is sexually and romantically attracted to people of all genders and sexes; and where gender plays a part in their preference(s) and attractions.
Pansexual – an individual who is sexually attracted to people regardless of their gender.
Panromantic – an individual who may experience romantic but not sexual attraction to any sex, gender, or identity
Queer – an umbrella term for non-heterosexual individuals when referring to their gender and/or sexual identities and orientations.
Skoliosexual – an individual who is attracted to transgender and/or non-binary people
Sapiosexual – an individual who develops and fosters attraction to others based on intelligence
Transgender – individuals who have a gender identity that differs from their biological sex assigned to them at birth. Transgendered individuals may undergo surgery to help them transition from one sex to another.
Well that was a lot, wasn’t it? If you’re feeling a little tense trying to wrap your head around all the new terminology, why not treat yourself by checking out ecchiTOKYO’s website to see what tension relieving tools they have?