A Guide to Sexual Orientations
Sometimes it seems as if there is a wonderful new sexual orientation term everyday, and it can be hard to keep up!
We have compiled a list for you to help stay updated and informed.
It is by no means exhaustive, and is in alphabetical order for your reading pleasure.
Sexual Orientation is the scientifically accurate term for an individual’s romantic, emotional, and/or sexual desires in their lives. Please avoid the term “sexual preference” which is offensive to many as it implies that sexual orientation is a choice, and is therefore “curable.” Any consensual sexual orientation is awesome, and we should celebrate them all.
Shall We Dive In?
An androsexual person is attracted to people with a masculine gender presentation (often, but not always, a person with a particularly masculine presentation), the masculine presenting person may or may not personally identify as male.
An asexual person does not feel any sexual attraction to others, though may feel romantic desires towards others, unless they are also Aromantic, in which case they usually experience neither. Asexual is not at all the same as celibacy, which is a conscious choice, and some asexual people do have sex. There is not one cookie cutter for every asexual person.
Bi-curious people are interested in exploring non-heterosexual feelings, which may be sexual, romantic, or both.
A bisexual person is someone who is attracted to two (or more) genders. The attraction may be sexual, romantic, or both, and does not have to be an equal amount of attraction for each gender. You do not need to have any sexual experience to identify as bisexual, it is about the attraction, not the sexual acts themselves.
A demisexual person first forms a strong emotional and/or romantic before feeling sexual attraction for a person.
A very broad umbrella term used to describe people who are predominantly attracted to those of the same gender. They may or may not be gender binary themselves, and may or may not be attracted to gender binary people. Both female and male identifying people may prefer ‘gay’ as opposed to homosexual, which is an outdated term that is often considered offensive and derogatory. While I’m on the topic, please stop referring to ‘gay couples’ or ‘gay marriages’, they are just ‘couples’ and ‘marriages’, okay thanks, moving on.
A person who predominantly experiences life as an asexual person, but experiences sexual attraction occasionally and/or only under specific circumstances.
A gynosexual person is attracted to people with a feminine gender presentation (often, but not always, a person with a particularly feminine presentation) the feminine presenting person may or may not personally identify as female.
Hetero folks are attracted to a different gender than their own. May or may not be gender binary, and attracted to other gender binary people. For example, a transgender woman and a cisgender man in a relationship may both identify as heterosexual.
Heteroflexible people predominantly relate to heterosexuality, but are open to romantic and/or sexual feelings for those of the same gender as themselves.
A term for someone who identifies as female, and is predominantly attracted to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay, or as gay women. Within the umbrella term there are a variety of more personal lesbian identifying terms, such as butch, femme, mommy/daddy, etc.
Pansexual folks do not feel restricted by biological sex, gender, or gender identity, and are attracted to all/any genders, including gender non-binary people.
Polysexual people are attracted to many, but not necessarily all, genders and gender expressions.
Pomosexual folks do not want to identify with any label or sexual orientation given by society. These nonconformists don’t ascribe to the conventions of labels and consciously choose to not participate in labelling.
Queer is an umbrella term that describes someone in the LGBTQI+ community who doesn’t identify as cisgender and/or heterosexual. A non-straight person. This is a reclaimed slur and should never be used to describe someone other than yourself, unless you have their express consent.
Someone who is considering and/or exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity. Usually a transitory phase, but not always.
A sapiosexual experiences sexual arousal from someone’s intellect, and primarily experience their sexual attraction based on the intelligence of the person they are attracted to. Gender is irrelevant in this term, and most sapiosexuals will also have a broader sexual orientation outside of their sapiosexual nature. For example, ‘Juniper is a femme lesbian who is a sapiosexual and works at the library’. Damn Juniper, may I give you my number? You sound like a babe.
A skopliosexual person is someone who is attracted to non-binary identified people, or those who do not call themselves cisgender.
The Sexual Kaleidoscope
There are so many more colorful identities than could possibly be depicted on a classic rainbow emoji. Regardless of how you personally identify, there is such a diverse world of sexual orientations, so the more you know the better!
Sexual orientation can also be fluid, and may change over time. Exploration is wonderful, and you don’t have to stay in any role you feel no longer suits you.
As always, never assume someone’s preferences or identity, and ask first before referring to someone with certain terms – even if you’ve heard them describe themselves in that way.