How do you understand your own orientation?

Questions and discussion about your sexuality and how it's a part of who you are as a person.

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How do you understand your own orientation?

Postby Sam W » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:04 am

(Originally posted by Jacob at the old boards here: http://www.scarleteen.com/cgi-bin/forum ... 01519.html
Hey so we have a new article about orientation, tada:

The Rainbow Connection: Orientation for Everyone

After reading it, and thinking about how difficult it has been for me to describe my orientation to people, I was wondering if anyone else has struggled or met contradictions when try to do so.

So more specifically:

How have you have all answered that question in the past?
How did you reach that answer?
Has any part of this process been particularly difficult?
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Re: How do you understand your own orientation?

Postby Ruth » Wed Aug 06, 2014 3:02 am

Ooh, I tend to answer this in two ways (and you can see in my little side-doohickey).

For people who are either not cis/straight themselves, or seem like they have a pretty good understanding, I tend to use 'queer' - I'm attracted to women and non-binary people, and have some aesthetic and sensual attraction to men, so I really like using the umbrella term, there.

The rest of the time, though, I use 'lesbian', as it tends to best communicate that I prefer to exclusively date not-men, without having to explain "well yes but non-binary people..."

I used to identify as bisexual, and dated men for a while (a couple of years, actually, which is a big deal when you're still pretty young), until I realised that the relationships I was having with them were not quite the same as the ones I wanted to have with women, and that trying for them was leaving me very confused and unhappy.

I think the hardest part of the process was coming out as a lesbian - people's responses were invariably "but you just left a long-term relationship with a man", "are you sure you're not just angry at men", or "but you can still adopt kids, right?". (That last one always baffled me in it's common-ness.)
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Re: How do you understand your own orientation?

Postby suburban_witch » Tue Aug 26, 2014 12:53 pm

I think right now, I've just been focused on not assigning a label to myself and just focusing on having partners that respect me. Right now, the simplest way to condense my orientation is "everyone but cis men," just because that's felt the most unsafe for me after my assault (as well as any time I interact with men, and what they assume about my role within the interaction), but maybe when I'm less socially isolated things will come into focus for me.

Right now, I have a female partner who is really wonderful to me, so I'm just taking care of myself as my primary responsibility and when I get to see her, I do and it's wonderful.
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Re: How do you understand your own orientation?

Postby chalk » Wed Dec 24, 2014 3:27 am

I never thought about this that much before. I'm quite sure I am emotionally/romantically and sexually attracted to men - well, people who identify as men - but to a certain degree I'm kind of attracted to non-binary people as well - I'm not really sure in what way - but I still don't know if that makes sense. I don't feel heterosexual, not really. I've read your article and learned a new word - pomosexual - that seems like a great term to describe myself now.
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Re: How do you understand your own orientation?

Postby Keda » Wed Dec 24, 2014 10:15 am

Hehe, the idea that there is a label for people who think labels are for soup cans tickles me.

I'm going through one of those weird fluctuations lately, where I still identify as pan but am mostly interested in women right now - back when I used to identify as bi I called it "riding the bi-cycle", swinging from being primarily interested in men, to women, and back again. It's a shame I never found out how non-binary people fit into that pattern, 'cause it doesn't happen half as much any more.

It's more confusing than usual this time, though. My partner is going through the process of maybe moving from identifying as bi to as lesbian, which I guess has the idea of changing sexualities in my head. And I'm wondering, in a way which I never have when this has happened in the past, whether I'm currently more attracted to women because I'm getting, temporarily or permanently, gayer, or whether it's because I'm just so much more used to thinking of and seeing women in sexual terms. I keep telling myself that straight women exist, so clearly culture doesn't have that much of an impact on orientation, but it's not working. ;)
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Re: How do you understand your own orientation?

Postby Bonthrop » Tue Jan 27, 2015 9:15 am

Sam W wrote:How have you have all answered that question in the past?
How did you reach that answer?
Has any part of this process been particularly difficult?


I've been through a few different labels. I identified as bisexual as a teenager, but was labelled as "slutty" or "predatory" by peers and had one particular lesbian friend tell me I was less evolved than her and should make up my mind.

I came out as lesbian in young adulthood and exclusively dated women for a while, until I met a man I was attracted to and felt I had to come out as bi all over again. I lost lesbian friends who felt I'd betrayed the sisterhood.

After all that, I came to identify as queer, as a) it helps me escape biphobia / bi-erasure and b) I find it to be a useful umbrella term for the fact that I kind of just dig people in general. I guess you could also call that pan, but I like the politics behind the term 'queer' better for me personally.

Much of the coming out and coming out again of my early life felt very difficult. My adult life, identifying as queer, has been much less difficult. I also identify as poly and newly kinky so I find these things fit well with my queerness.
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Re: How do you understand your own orientation?

Postby MarilynMonster » Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:23 pm

Hm...that's a good question. The best way I can put it is I understand it by being able to see myself having a future long term relationship with a man or a woman. I can easily see both, and I like both. And by looking at both sexes and finding them all attractive in their own way for all their own reasons regardless of their gender in the end.
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Re: How do you understand your own orientation?

Postby Kittens » Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:30 am

Before I was 13, I didn't really think about my sexual orientation that much. I think if anyone would've I asked me then I probably would have said I was straight. But I used to live in an extremely Southern Baptist Christian community known as west Tennassee and they weren't very accepting people. It wasn't until I moved to Virginia and started learning more about the LGBTQA community and becoming involved(my aunt and even my mother are supporters and I met others at school, as there was a GSA club there. Also, I started going to an interfaith sanctuary in PA that's very pagan and very open and very lovely. I explored myself and what I identified as there as well).

At first I decided that I could see myself getting into a long-term relationship with a man or woman, and I could see them as sexual partners as well, so I identified as bisexual. But then I started dating a guy who was transgender, and realized that my identity didn't seem to include all the different facets of gender that I could see myself being with. So I identified as pansexual, as It doesn't matter all that much to me where people are(or aren't!) on the gender binary, I can still develop wonderful and meaningful romantic and sexual relationships with them. I have a tendency towards men, which can lead to some confusion with people because how could I possibly be in a relationship with a man and still know that I like other genders as well?? Also, there's a lot of people that don't know what pansexual is. I have even been asked if I am sexually attracted to kitchenware, which is ridiculous. :P
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