With today’s social acceptability of sexual identities and genders, most people feel comfortable expressing their true selves. The LGBTQ+ community is forever growing and making a mark in history, yet inequalities are still there. There are still over 70 countries where same-sex relationships are criminalised, some going as far as imposing the death penalty.
Living in a heteronormative world, it is normal to feel singled out when you know you’re different. People will judge and argue until you break. When you begin to question your sexuality, after spending your whole life being sure about what you would ‘identify’ yourself as, everything can seem daunting. What will people think? How do I know who I’m really attracted to?
Trends are showing that there is a slight but clear increase in the number of people identifying as LGB, suggested by a report from the Office for National Statistics. Women especially exhibit more flexibility in their sexual preferences than men, with 2.8% of 16-24-year-old women identifying as bisexual, compared to 2% of men. Yet, fewer women of that age range will identify as lesbian with 1%, compared to 2.3% of men identifying as gay. These trends follow a similar pattern for the older generation (35-49), where more women would identify as bisexual rather than gay, with 0.6% compared to 0.9%, and more men identifying as gay rather than bisexual, with 1.8% compared to 0.4%.
READERS GET REAL
I just like who I like whenever I want
“My sexual orientation? That’s a question I never know how to answer really! I sort of knew I liked girls from an early age, but I had no idea what that was, so paid no attention to it. I started to first question things when I was 16/17. Being romantically involved with a guy doesn’t appeal or excite me as much as being with a woman does. I think sexual orientation is becoming more of a spectrum, and as each generation joins the community it’s just even more acceptable to be labeled or not at all.”
Never have I felt so proud of being who I am, never have I felt the confidence until now to express my sexuality.
“I identify as pansexual, because to me, gender is not a factor on who I find sexually attractive or who I am romantically involved with. I was outed before I was comfortable to do so, so I felt more isolated than ever. I felt lonely, ashamed and disgusting. Being in the LGBT community, I feel welcomed, celebrated and loved. I found like-minded people, which lead me to understand my own sexuality to the fullest.”
Lesbian, bi or pan women will often offer desires that every single woman wants; romance, intimacy, and companionship. This is something that many women who question their sexuality have been able to find in a same-sex relationship. The confidence, excitement, similar needs and wants could be an influence that more and more women are discovering or want to discover. Of course, social acceptability will make it easier for someone to take the leap and go for it.
So, whether a woman is questioning her sexuality or wants to experience something she has never had before… does she really need a label to identify herself?
TO LABEL OR NOT TO LABEL?
A label is a descriptive or identifying word or phrase. When it comes to labeling sexuality, we are fully aware of the terms straight, gay, lesbian, bi and trans. Easy to understand with clear descriptions, if someone tells you they are gay you won’t question it any further. Yet, there are so many terms many people are completely unaware of, let alone able to describe. Pansexual, asexual, demi-sexual, queer, homoflexible, heteroromantic; what do they all mean?
Dr. Jo Dalton is a Clinical Psychologist at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Having recently completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Therapy with gender, sexuality and relationship diversity, she says: “I think it is useful for people to think of sexuality as a continuum with completely gay at one end and completely straight at the other and many people existing somewhere along the continuum.”
I myself am someone who does not know what label to use to identify my sexual orientation, yet I am not confused about my sexuality. Yes, I may have thought I had been attracted to men my whole life, but now that I am in a relationship with a woman, people around me have straight away implemented the labels of lesbian, bi, pan or even curious and questioning. They don’t understand why or how it is possible to like one gender and the next day another.
Dr. Dalton explains: “Many people like labels and there are many to choose from these days. But many people don’t like to be pigeonholed and there is no need to.
Sexuality isn’t fixed either, it can change over a lifetime.
A COMMUNITY FOR EVERYONE
Beatriz Franco, 24, is a freelance video editor from Portugal. Questioning her sexuality at 14 and coming out as gay at 15, she is very active on Twitter: “I’m not only passionate about social activism, I’m also very passionate about my community.” Her YouTube channel has created a community where everyone can be themselves, no matter what they identify as. “More often than not, gay jokes or even just the word “gay” itself feels so heavy in social settings, we wanted “gay” to feel light and funny and casual.
“I want other LGBT+ people to know they have people they can lean on, I want to be the voice many feel they don’t have, I want to help shape our society into a better one.”
questioning your sexuality is the first step of our journey into realizing that we’re gay because we are assumed straight the minute we pop out of the womb. and after we’ve realized we’re gay we still have to deal with people assuming we’re straight for the rest of our lives
— Bia (@BnazF) November 27, 2018
LOVE IS LOVE
We need to remember that we have the choice. The choice to label ourselves if we feel like it gives us security and a sense of belonging, but also the choice of being label-free, and just live every day the way we want to live it.
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