Updated: Mar 20
So, you’re signing up to a website, meeting new people, thinking about becoming involved in the lifestyle, but you’re met with a question? What’s your sexual orientation/identity?
Identity is defined as how one thinks about themselves, and sexual identity is that in relation to whom one is sexually attracted to.
Sexual orientation identity is identity or dis-identity with or opposed to identifying with a specific sexual orientation.
Identity, orientation, and behaviours are clearly distinguished but very closely linked. The concept of self, the acts performed and the romantic or sexual attractions (whether acted upon or not)
It’s hard to think of a time where the words heterosexual and homosexual were not commonplace in our language, however they only emerged in the 1800’s so even that basic sexual identity is a recent phenomenon.
Sexual self-concept is an integration of many identity components, combining, moral, ethical, religious occupational and many more multidimensions of personal identity as well as the humanistic need to fit in with societal values and connection with peers.
Sexual identity can change throughout life, and it may or may not align with the individual biological sex behaviours or orientation. However, many people do not actually acknowledge their sexual identity past the basic homosexual or heterosexual status due to stigma, and fears of being ostracised, and discrimination.
Throughout history identifying as different to the socially accepted norm, has caused problems and it’s only in recent years that there are processes in place to help alleviate this, but as many things we humans are still having to advocate. Scholar Michel Foucault raised concerns on creating more markers for sexual identity “as a way for science to be like, heterosexuality is right’ and we’re going to label other sexual identities as well, deviant sexualities” and to a point he was right. There is much discrimination in this world for any so-called minority groups, I say so called, as when you look int the research, there are more individual’s that identify along a spectrum or ‘model” than that are definitively one or the other on a hetero/homo scale. And especially since orders such as the USA anti-discrimination employment protections. Individuals can be open about their chosen identities and orientations without as much fear of the ensuing stigma.
The recognition of more sexual identities is increasing, some websites stating 46 terms with reference to attraction, behaviours orientation, and gender and it seems within each term there are subcategories.
Many researchers over the years have tried to develop models, to take a view of orientation and identity development, historically seen as a minority process however more contemporary models see that it is a more universal process, incorporating many models together outlining multiple discrete stages of development, and that it happens to all individual’s not just what was previously seen as minority groups.
That being said, it is getting increasingly hard to keep up to date with the many terms used to describe oneself, some of the more well-known are lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, gay, asexual, allosexual, heterosexual, homosexual, monosexual, polysexual, queer, and many more evolving, especially amongst the younger generations who find they don’t fi with the definitions that they can find to these identities.
My question would be that within our lifestyles do we need to hold on so tightly to these identities? Understandably while there is still discrimination with job security mental/medical health resources that there needs to be this ability, but ascribing to definitive status? doesn’t that limit the wealth of friendships one could have, or are we all so busy and don’t have time to make connections if they don’t suit our desires at the time of connections?
Let me know your thoughts ...