First big truth: I don’t know everything. I try to understand things and I will often try to do that by putting them in categories and attaching labels to them so that they make sense for me, and then I’ll find out about the “what about” scenario that doesn’t fit in the system I created and it sometimes leads to confusion and most of the time leads to me just reinforcing that my definitions are fallible and not universal for everyone else and I should free myself from trying to label anything because it’s pointless.
Second big truth: I am an expert in myself and I STILL don’t know everything about me, so even when I have access to a word that “seems” like it should fit, I’m still not quite sure because one small part of it or the way people in general regard it doesn’t feel quite right.
This is a post about “sexuality.” I think this might end up being a post about more than sexuality, ’cause to be honest? I don’t know everything about sexuality and sometimes when I try to define what a word means to me, I end up unintentionally excluding someone else’s way of identifying by the same word.
So – when I try to break down what people are talking about when they talk about sexuality, I think they’re often talking about a bunch of different things that don’t all fit in a simple graph or system that’s easy to digest.
So, the first thing I try to figure out is the “WHO”. Without yet defining what sexuality is and isn’t, let’s just figure out WHO the people are that one has an interest in connecting with:
The most common way I’ve seen people define the “WHO” has to do with gender presentation (or non-presentation) and for some people it’s strictly about genitals. So, “Heterosexual” tends to be about having an attraction to the sex or gender that one is not. “Homosexual” tends to be about having an attraction to the sex or gender that one is. “Bisexual” tends to be about having an attraction to the sex or gender that one is AS WELL as is not. “Pansexual” tends to be the term that also means “attracted to same and not same” and many who use it instead of “bisexual” tend to believe that bisexual is rooted in a gender binary, and and many who prefer “bisexual” over “pansexual” tend to believe that it isn’t rooted in a gender binary.
Then you get the slight alterations to those terms, like “heteroflexible” instead of “heterosexual” which I think implies that having an attraction toward “same” is not as frequent, but not impossible, or “homoflexible” where having an attraction toward “not same” is not as frequent, but not impossible.
In all of the above examples, we’re talking about the object of our desires, for lack of a better term. It’s not about us – it’s about them. Then we start having a conversation of what that “desire” really is.
And now we’re having the “WHAT” conversation about what the differences are between “sexual” and “romantic” and “emotional” desires are. We’re having a conversation about the “FREQUENCY” of one’s interest in experiencing none or one or all of the WHAT.
So there’s “asexual” and “graysexual” and “hypersexual” and “aromantic” and a slew of other words that each define some point on a spectrum of “don’t want at all” to “want all the time” in relation to whatever one defines as “sexual” or “romantic” activities or feelings.
Then there’s the “HOW” aspect which sits somewhere between of the “FREQUENCY” and “WHO” and “WHAT” conversations and just north “HOW MANY” conversation that follows.
That’s where I see things like “demisexual” and “demiromantic” and “megasexual” and “megaromantic” living. In those cases we’re talking about having some sort of per-requisite that must be met before the sexual or romantic or otherwise emotionally connective experiences with the WHO and WHAT the FREQUENCY are activated.
So, the way I define “demisexual” it means that while I have a pretty good sense of what my “WHO” is in general terms, I don’t have any interest in my preferred “FREQUENCY” of sexual or romantic entanglement with anybody until until the emotional connection has been formed with a very specific WHO. And for a “megasexual” the “who” doesn’t get prioritized until after the compatibility of sexual frequency and desire has been established and/or achieved.
And now it’s time to bring in “How Many” which is where we’re talking about the spectrum between preferring zero relationships to multiple relationships as defined by whatever a person’s personal definition of a “relationship” is based on sexual, non-sexual, emotional, friendship, or financial connections are. So we have monogamous, monoamorous, non-monogamous, polyamorous, and ..hell, even I made up a word for “preferring monoamory for myself but not for my partner.”
Every single one of these is on a spectrum and every single one of these can be fluid within the same human being at different points in their days, weeks, months, or over the course of their lives.
And we haven’t even started to define the “WHO” yet in terms of anything outside of sex and/or gender presentation, which is what people start doing when they work the characteristics of the people they are attracted to into the definitions of their sexuality.
It makes my head spin. It really does. It makes a lot of people feel excluded or invisible because sometimes when we’re creating labels for people and preferences, what we’re trying to do is find exactly where we fit. Few people want to be filed under “miscellaneous.” That’s where the shit that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else goes to be forgotten.
But then, yeah. Maybe I do just want to be in the world’s “miscellaneous” folder. Sometimes I think I’m just a sexual/romantic anarchist. I want what I want and I like what I like and I won’t be confined by someone else’s definition (nor attempt to confine others by my own definitions).
But then a lot of people will see “sexual anarchy” and assume that it means I am sexually attracted to anyone and everyone, when the reality is that by most people’s definitions, I’d be filed under “mildly heteroflexible, heteroromantic, demisexual monoamorous monocorn.”
In reality, I just don’t want to feel like I or anybody else is trapped by wanting or responding to what and who and how they want whenever they want it. For me, anyone and everyone of legal age and with consent is “possible” in the grand scheme of things, but I fall into predominant patterns that are most often defined as “hyper-sexually attracted to cis men within 5 to 10 years of my age with whom I’ve developed a strong and mutually emotional and romantic connection.”
I just don’t want people to hold me to that or tell me I’ve been “misfiled” because I watched an episode of Queer Eye and felt an attraction to Jess, the strong, black, lesbian woman whom I’ve never met before.