Sexuality: Labels Aren’t Everything

Photo by Benson Kua via Creative Commons.

Sexuality has become one of the defining issues of our generation. People are now more aware than ever of what different sexualities entail, leading to, hopefully, a bright and rainbow-y future ahead where all orientations are accepted and understood. 

But we definitely aren’t there yet.

Personally, I define myself as bisexual. I don’t take labels as seriously as many other people do, and try to trust my feelings in any given moment. I try to let comments suggesting that I’m secretly lesbian and am too scared to admit it slide off my shoulders. I try to ignore people who think bisexuality is just a tool girls wield to come off as more attractive to guys, or a veil bisexual men use to hide the fact that they’re just gay, as if all sexuality is only valid when it’s aimed toward men. 

What people don’t realize is that questions of a very similar variety circle my head often — am I just gay and too afraid to admit it? I can just as easily convince myself that the opposite is true, and that I’m not truly bisexual at all. For me, no good comes of overthinking it. Sometimes, I’m attracted to girls. Sometimes, I’m attracted to guys. For me, that’s enough. 

For others, though, it isn’t. Over the past decade, people have become full-on obsessed with defining their sexuality, leading to the popularization of terms like sapiosexual (being attracted to intelligence rather than physicality) or demisexual (needing a strong emotional bond to be in place before sexual attraction occurs). Deciding what is sexuality and what is just personal preference is a teetering and politically-charged edge to walk, and more and more of what used to be simple proclivities toward one thing or another are now dancing into the crowded realm of sexual orientation.

I’m not trying to diminish the need of people to define and understand their own orientation. It’s a perfectly normal thing, and can be a necessary bridge on the self-love road. I only have one more thing to say about it, and this is insanely important — trust yourself. Please (seriously, please) do not fall into the trap of taking online quizzes called Am I Pansexual? or reading articles with titles like 10 Ways to Know if You’re Bisexual or What it Means to be a Demisexual and How to Know if You Are One. Sites like these cheapen the meaning of these labels and definitions. This isn’t a personality test or a Buzzfeed quiz. 

If you are bisexual, it means you’re attracted to both women and men. If you are, ahem, attracted to both women and men, then you are probably bisexual. If you thought a girl on Instagram had a nice body once in the tenth grade and have never had a gay thought since, you’re probably not bisexual. Don’t overthink it. If one day you realize that you want to date the cute, same-sex barista at your local coffee shop, don’t have an aneurysm. If you don’t want the world to know, don’t tell anyone. It’s okay to let yourself grow and change without validating these changes with others or finding words to explain them away. You can explore your sexuality alone and without labels. You are you, and you are unique: no label will encompass the ins and outs of your orientation, anyway, so instead of trying to find the perfect one, just explain it as best you know how and only define yourself when you’re sure.

My advice to anyone reading this article, stressed and confused or not: just relax. Be attracted (or not attracted) to whoever you want. It doesn’t need a name to be real. Just accept it as a part of yourself and move forward. Finding a group of people with whom you can sexually identify can be cool, but it isn’t everything. You must be okay with yourself and who you like (or don’t like) — acceptance from anyone else comes second and is far less important. 

That’s why I don’t like to share my own sexuality outright. If it comes up in conversation, I’ll casually let it slip that I’m bisexual. I expect nothing but acceptance in return, and so far, that’s what I’ve gotten. I’m lucky. My family has made subtle inquiries into my sexuality before, but I usually just laugh off their questions and refrain from giving straight answers. Maybe that stems from some hidden fear, or maybe not. 

Most importantly, I’m growing to understand my own sexuality, and, for now, that’s enough.


Story by Samantha Joslin



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