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XYZ’s of Sexual Orientations

written by Keely Johnson, M.A.

In December of 2020, an article discussing the ABC’s of relationship orientations was published. See the article here.  This month, we are providing the XYZ’s of sexual orientations. Sexual orientation is an enduring romantic, emotional or sexual attraction, or non-attraction to other people. Sexual orientation can be fluid and people can use a variety of labels to describe their orientation. Sexuality can include components of biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual attraction, and sexual practices which may or may not aligned with sex and gender. Sometimes people may confuse relationship orientations with sexuality and sexual orientations. The terms provided below explain different types of sexual orientation labels which may be present within the different types of relationship orientations. Please keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive.
 

“No matter who we are or whom we love, we all deserve the right to live out our lives genuinely, completely and honestly.” – Human Rights Campaign
 

Definitions:

 

Asexual: A person generally does not experience sexual feelings or desires for other people. A person who identifies as asexual can experience other forms of attraction such as romantic, physical, and emotional. People may use the term ‘ace’ to denote their asexual orientation.

 

Bisexual: A person romantically, physically, sexually and/or spiritually attracted to more than one gender or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way, or to the same degree.

 

Gay: A person who is romantically, physically, sexually, and/or spiritually attracted to members of the same gender. Men, women, and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.

 

Lesbian: A woman who is romantically, physically, or sexually attracted to other women. Women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.

 

Heterosexual: A person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to members of the opposite gender, also referred to as “straight.”

 

Pansexual: : A person who is romantically, physically, sexually, and/or spiritually attracted to members of all gender identities/expressions, though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way, or to the same degree.

 

Queer:  Historically, this was a derogatory slang term used to identify LGBTQ+ people. It is a term that has been embraced and reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community as a symbol of pride, representing all individuals who fall out of the gender and sexuality “norms” such as heterosexual or cisgender. Additionally, some individuals may use the label ‘queer’ to denote their sexual orientation.

 

Questioning: A term used to describe people who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity and investigating influences that may come from their family, religious upbringing, and internal motivations.

 

Same-gender loving: A term some prefer to use instead of lesbian, gay, or bisexual to express attraction to and love of people of the same gender. This term was coined by Black queer communities as an alternative for the terms “gay” and lesbian.”

 

Fluid(ity): Sometimes, people have noticed that their attraction and who they are attracted to changes over time. Often times this term has another one attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality.

 

Resources for exploring your sexual identity and finding affirming communities.

HSC Student Counseling Office                                           

Call 405-271-7336 

email us at counselors@oushc.edu

 

Diversity Center of Oklahoma

 

LGBTQ+ Resources Page

 

For those who are considering coming out to others:

Coming Out: Living Authentically as Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual+ (.pdf)