There is a very good likelihood that you grew up believing that it is normal to be in love with someone of the opposite sex. It’s not because your friends and family are necessarily homophobic but because our world is still primarily heteronormative. Straight till proven otherwise is usually the norm. Statistically speaking, this isn’t true and there comes a time when you begin to question everything you have assumed to be normal. And I am here to assure that questioning is far more normal than anything else.
For most people I think questioning is also a part of puberty, when hormones are running all over the place and there is a deep need to question everything, and not just your sexuality, gender or romantic orientation. But there full grown men who have started questioning themselves in their late 40s, people who have lived their life not feeling comfortable with their identity but never knowing better. It’s the worst kind of identity crisis and it definitely can’t be resolved by a new haircut.
I guess I should start with sexuality. Heterosexuality we know and see everywhere; its media’s favourite child. These days though, child protective services have called up media and asked it to justify its terrible behaviour to homosexuality. Gay folks have better representation in media these days which is why you probably know that homosexuality is when someone is sexually attracted to someone of their own gender. Guess what? It’s not men liking the colour pink and having a great fashion sense. It’s not men who like one direction’s music. It’s not men with feminine tendencies. It’s more like men swooning when a hot guy walks by and crossing their fingers that he is gay. It is not women with short haircuts and baggy clothes. It is not your filthy fetishes played out. It is someone’s life and it is personal.
But if you are thinking you couldn’t possibly be homosexual because you went on a play date (or even properly dated) someone of the opposite sex, know that it’s not entirely impossible. Maybe you didn’t consider your sexuality before. Maybe you were romantically inclined and not sexually. Romantic orientations and sexual orientations are two different concepts, very closely linked but sometimes still separable.
Or, here’s a possibility – you are not gay. You are not straight either. You are a bisexual. Or pansexual. Or polysexual. “What are these?” you ask, a perfectly valid question given that one year ago I had no idea about these orientations myself. Bisexuality, as you can guess from the name is when you prefer someone from the opposite gender and someone from the same gender. Both can have equal preference or you could have more inclination towards one gender. That doesn’t invalidate your attraction towards the other gender.
A polysexual is someone who is attracted to more than one gender. And a pansexual is attracted to all gendersor irrespective of gender (and no pans, that’s just stupid). No, they are not necessarily people with high sex drives (not that anything is wrong with that). They are not going to take away your right to consent and jump you. These 3 labels are very close to each other and while you don’t have a say in who your body is attracted to, you do have a choice in picking your label. Sex education activist Laci Green puts it in the best way possible – the chances of any label fully describing you are very low. You are going to end up picking the one label that comes close to who you are.
But wait what? What do you mean all genders? Are there other genders apart from male and female? Yes actually and the list is far too long for me go through entirely. The most common one is transgender. I am on unsure grounds with Transgender. While transgender does involve a lot of self doubt and questioning, and living in the skin of someone who doesn’t feel like you, I wouldn’t classify it as a different gender. A trans-woman is a woman, whose gender doesn’t match with the gender she was assigned at birth. Same goes for trans-men. But they still fall under the male and female category. There are people who genderless or agender and don’t identify with any given gender. Gender queer is a blanket term for most non binary people, people who don’t belong to the more common (but not normal) definitions of gender. Intersex people are people whose sexual organs don’t fall into any specific category. And while we are discussing genitalia, know that it is once again personal and none of your business. There is a fine line between curiosity and being intrusive and if you think you may be crossing it, you probably are.
But so far I have only discussed types of sexuality. There is an entire scale I haven’t touched yet; the asexuality spectrum. So far everything I have said has been on the assumption that most people feel sexual attraction. It is however, not true. On the far end of the asexuality spectrum are the asexuals, people who don’t feel sexual attraction. It’s nothing personal okay; keep your ego aside for a moment. An asexual isn’t a prude. An asexual isn’t someone who will never have sex, they may consider it. Or they may not, it’s their choice. Gray – sexuals are people who occasionally have sex, under the right circumstances. Demisexuals are people who need time to feel sexual attraction. Or they feel sexual attraction right away but need time to act on it. Like I said, no label fits the bill exactly.
People on the asexual spectrum usually thrive on romance. Most sexualities I have mentioned have a romantic counterpart; a romantic orientation. I did mention earlier that sexuality and romantic orientations are different. The counterpart of Aces would be Aros, Aromantics. They are not cold hearted villains in your Disney fairy tale, okay. They don’t always have romantic feelings but they still care. You can’t try to convince me that love doesn’t exist without romance, or sex for that matter.
If you are questioning, I hope this has been informative. You don’t have to decide right now, or tomorrow. Take your time; take a couple of months, and take some years if you have to; take your time to figure out who you are. And you don't need to come out the moment you do, you don't need feel obligated to leave the closet if your physical, mental and emotional safety is at stake. Ask questions and read stories. Tomorrow, 11th October is Coming Out day and you will find several people sharing their experiences online. Read more articles and watch more videos. But as you question know that whatever your orientation, you are just as valid. You are not broken. You don’t have a mental illness. You aren’t just a child who doesn’t know better. With so many possible combinations (Pansexual Demisexual, Transgender heterosexual, aromantic bisexuals... the possibilities are endless) it is statistically more possible to be a part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum than not. I don’t know who and what basis Straight became normal but let’s not give into that myth.
This is, in brief the LGBTQ+ spectrum. If you are questioning and dabbling in it, good luck on your quest. If you end up staying, you are entirely welcome.
References: (To help you further)
And use more of Google, it is very helpful. Stay Safe.