DIVERSITY: SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS
Attraction, in all its forms, can come at any point of time. It can be sudden, confusing and unpredictable. The world around us makes us believe that people are divided into two categories- men and women. Boys and girls. And that boys love girls, girls love them right back and then they get married. It indeed is true for many. But is it the whole picture? Here is a short, non-comprehensive, list of identities, feelings and expressions we are all less familiar with:
- STRAIGHT (Heterosexual): This label is used to describe men who are attracted to women and women who are attracted towards men. Though one may say that this is the only way of being, there are other forms of sexual attractions, orientations and identity categories as well. Let’s see what those are!
- GAY and LESBIAN (Homosexual): This label is used to describe people who are attracted to people of their own gender. This means that in this scenario, men are attracted to men, while women are attracted to women. While some women who are attracted to and fall in love with women are comfortable with the term gay, some prefer the term lesbian.
- BISEXUAL: This term is used to describe people who are attracted towards both men and women. Society has many misconceptions about bisexual people. Many say that bisexual people are incapable of being faithful or monogamous (people who are in relationships with only one person at a time). But that isn’t true at all! Bisexual people are as capable as any other community of people to fall in love and be faithful. They can just feel attracted towards people of both the genders.
- ASEXUAL: The world no matter how repressed about matters of sex still assumes that everyone has sexual desires. Asexual people will disagree with you. Asexual people are individuals who feel no sexual attraction towards anyone. No, that doesn’t mean that they celibate, like nuns or sanyasis. They aren’t repressing their sexual drives, they just don’t feel any. Neither are they suppressing their homosexuality! They just don’t feel sexual desires of any kind. Does that mean that they are incapable of falling in love? Not necessarily. Does love always have to be tied to sexual expression? Some asexual people speak of their experiences of having fallen in love, while others talk about how it has never come up. There is always space for variety within each category as well.
- DEMISEXUAL: This label refers to people who don’t feel sexual attraction to people unless they are deeply emotionally or romantically attached to a person. Demisexual persons too aren’t repressing their sexual feelings, they simply don’t feel any initial attraction towards people they don’t know and only feel sexual desires if they are deeply connected to the person on an emotional level.
- PANSEXUAL: Pan refers to “all” in greek. This label refers to sexual orientation that transgresses boundaries of biological sex and gender. It describes people who are attracted to other persons irrespective of what their gender is. People can easily confuse pansexuality for bisexuality, but the difference between the two is that pansexuals view gender in a more fluid manner than the binary of men and women. They can feel attraction towards people who identify as men, women and transgender.
These were just a few examples of the many possible colors in the rainbow of sexual diversity! Some people may not like labels at all. Some people may subscribe to a label for a few years and feel differently in a matter of seconds. It’s important for us to understand these words and the experiences behind them.