Gender—it’s something that everyone thinks they have a handle on, but really, they don’t.
Gender is not binary, black and white, or one or the other. It’s infinite shades of all the colours of the rainbow spectrum. As humans, we’re inclined to put people in a box, give them a label and call it a day. It’s only natural, and it makes things easier for us to understand—But it’s not so easy anymore. Also, it can unintentionally hurt.
We’re used to putting sexuality labels in a box too. Gay, straight or bi—these classifications are worlds apart from each other. Let’s pause to think about what these labels mean. Is gay really the polar opposite of straight?
Now you might understand why it’s so widely misunderstood.
“Gender is like a rainbow spectrum along which everyone can find the particular shade of colour that looks best on them.” – Barbara Carrellas
This is good news if you’ve been curious about exploring your sexuality and doing so without shame or judgment. Digging into our sexuality completely unlabelled is very empowering.
If the idea of a sexuality spectrum is new to you, think about it as a continuum that covers every possible variation of human sexuality or identity without necessarily labelling or defining all of them. The spectrum in and of itself represents the idea that sexuality is loosely identifiable by precise means or measurements.
Fluid? Yes. Easy to understand? We’re working on it.
Gay, straight? More and more people are getting cozy with the in-between. While Ellen Degeneres’ coming out was glossy magazine newsworthy in the 90s, this nuance has always been a thing in the LGBTQIA+ community. This inclusive way of thinking is getting more mainstream.
Sex is so fantastic because it’s so much more than a label, or a black and white definition. Sex involves pleasure, relationships, intimacy, connection, desire, fantasy, and spirituality. I could go on, but I’ll save that for another article.
When psychologists started researching sexuality, they ran into a sticky situation—when people were asked about their orientation they had to choose—heterosexual or homosexual. In this early research, they found many folks who didn’t identify as homosexual (or as gay, lesbian or bisexual), and maybe they had same-sex experiences, and many who called themselves gay or lesbian had heterosexual experiences. This raised a big question—what does sexual orientation really mean?
If you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around this, keep in mind that all this can change over time. People change, so their sexuality can change too.
Where do you fall on the spectrum?
Since sexuality is a spectrum, maybe you’ve been wondering where you fall? Since people fall into different categories of hyper- or hyposexual, ask yourself:
- Are you curious about being intimate with someone who’s of the same sex as you but would still consider yourself heterosexual and attracted to the opposite sex?
- Do you feel afraid that if you’re intimate with someone of the same sex that you might no longer identify as heterosexual but as bisexual or gay?
- Can you easily express your sexual wants and desires?
- Do you consider yourself as having high sexual energy?
If you said yes to two or more of these questions, then you might be hypersexual. If you said no to two or more of the questions, then you could be hyposexual.
We know, more labels. The thing is, because there are so many labels, and they’re constantly changing and evolving—just like us, maybe it’s time to throw out all the boxes.
Here are some practical ways to unshackle yourself from all the labels and boxes:
- Instead of labels, follow your curiosity
Feeling fully and completely liberated sexually happens when you pay attention to the little nudges. Those whispers that might turn into screams if you keep ignoring them.
- Do what feels good to you
If what feels good to you today feels different than what felt right a few years ago—that’s okay. Think back to who you were when you were a baby, when you were 5-years-old, or when you were 13, or 18. You looked different; you had different thoughts, you were into different things. Embrace the idea that you’re always changing.
- Let go of shame and judgment
This is simple to say, but more complicated to do. Depending on your upbringing, you might need to do some deep work, maybe with the help of a therapist. We’re not just talking about quitting the shame game in your head, consider how you’re judging others, simply by assigning them a label. All you need to do is start noticing because once you do, you can start to rewrite your thoughts and start thinking on the spectrum.
“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” – Unknown
The more we can embrace the idea of a spectrum and all the shades in between, we can unlearn what we’ve been taught, learn how to get out of your heads, and into our bodies. This friends, is the very first step to living a fully expressive, colour-full life.
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Sexology International, like all of our work, is for people of all sexual preferences and all forms of gender expression, including people whose identity is something other than male or female. As such, we like to use gender-neutral pronouns. More recently accepted alternatives include words like “ze” and “hir” or the universal pronoun “they.” Throughout our work, we will be doing our best to use alternative pronouns, such as “they,” whenever gender or plurality is unimportant. In doing so we hope it helps everyone to feel included in the discussion and that it inspires you to think outside of traditional sex and gender binaries.