Why Does Sexual Identity have to be SO Confusing?

Last Updated on: December 28th, 2017

girl hugging a handsome guy

Let me tell you a bit about me.

I have an open mind, and I don’t judge people. I’m not racist or prejudiced in any way.

And I think love can occur between members of the same sex.

Gender Variations

What I don’t fully understand is all of the variations that have arisen in recent years to define the gender/sex of some people.

Years ago, there used to be only two: male or female.

Then came another four options: lesbian, gay,  bisexual, and transgender.

Still pretty easy to understand, and known more commonly as LGBT.

But then the sexual-identity waters get muddied.

Along came a few more labels to make things confusing: asexual, and pansexual, androsexual/androphilic, and gynesexual/gynephilic, to name a few.

Sigh. It’s hard to keep up!

Why does sexual identity have to be SO confusing?

depressed and confused guy

To make things even more confusing, up pop even more labels for identifying one’s sexual identity: genderqueer, androgynous, intersex, intergender, skoliosexual, transsexual, transitioning, and questioning.

Questioning? Really? That’s a “gender” now? Wow.

Times have certainly changed!

While I don’t necessarily understand each and every term, what I do understand is that some people are confused about their sexuality, for whatever reasons(s).

And I’m one of them. And I thought it’s because I’ve always been overweight.

Let me explain.

When I was in grade school, I always found myself looking at girls. But not just any girls — girls who were petite, who had curves in all the right places. I always thought that it was because I wanted my body to like theirs. Never did it occur to me that I might be gay or bisexual.

Then again, those terms weren’t around in the 1970s or 80s… (I was a teen in the mid 1980s, and by the time the term LGBT was in use, I was an adult, as LGBT began to be used in the 1990s.)

Hm.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that I’m bisexual, with the split about 5% towards females and 95% towards guys.

Settle down. I’m still me, regardless of who I am attracted to!

one girl kissing another girl

Would you love me if I was a girl who wanted to be a guy? Would you still read my posts… knowing as much as you know about me already, o faithful reader? I’m a bit unsure.

An Introduction to A Genderqueer Author

And so, to test the waters, so to speak, I’m writing about this today, not because I want to be a guy (although I think I do have penis envy to a certain extent) but because I want to introduce you to an author who doesn’t quite fit the norm. On Friday, you will meet her when I do a book review for her. And no, I’m not telling you her name just yet. I want it to be a surprise.

UPDATE: The book review post has been published. Her name is Connie. 😉

To clear things up, if you are wondering… I’m quite happy with who and what I am.

But not everyone is.

Are you?

And do you know why someone’s sexual identity has to be SO confusing?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so don’t be shy. Speak up. Enlighten me. Let’s talk about this.

image that advocates equality between people
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38 thoughts on “Why Does Sexual Identity have to be SO Confusing?

  1. Shane Turner says

    I have identified as gay but could be bi. I guess it can be really confusing. I get pretty strong sexual attractions to men but I get sexual attraction but not quite as strong as I do a men. However, I feel like women are more physically attractive than men. I can get off to fantasizing about both sexes without having to think about one sex or the other. My Klein Kinsey Grid is around 3.57. I fall between a 3 and 4 on the Kinsey Scale. If I took a wild guess I would say I am about 60% homosexual and 40% heterosexual though sometimes it can be very hard to tell. I prefer to go on a date with women more than I would a man. My attraction to men seem to be mainly sexual but women it is somewhat sexual. For instance I love hot male bodies, small butts and faces but don’t care much for penis. Women I like vaginas, bodies, and big boobs. I thinking have sex with an attractive male is hot but sometimes I feel like something is missing.

    • says

      Shane, it’s okay to be attracted to different things in both genders. Fantasies are good to have, too. They prove you are “normal.”

      Whomever you decide to be with, my advice is to simply be honest about your feelings and desires. Who knows… maybe you’ll end up with someone who feels the same way and sharing your innermost fantasies can bring you even closer together… maybe to the point where threesomes are a part of your sex life.

      Enjoyable for everyone!

  2. I found this an extremely poignant and enlightening post and discussion, Lorraine. I suspect it’s a topic that simmers on the back-burner of consciousness for many, and it’s candid exchanges like this that facilitates dialogue to promote greater sexuality awareness, and hopefully acceptance and respect, for occupants of any of the six Kinsey profiles.

    • says

      Jason, I don’t like being judgemental either! At least now you know some new terms, too. 🙂 And I agree, we should all strive to be happy!

  3. I wasn’t aware of all the ddifferent terms you have mentioned in your post. We should not really judge people on their sexual identity but on their character and the kind of people they are.

  4. Lorraine it IS confusing isn’t it? Like many others, I haven’t heard of all of those terms you had shared. But it does seem like lately we hear more stories of kids who a born one gender but are associating more with another, and the challenges they face.

    I can recall (vaguely) a story I saw on the news about a family whose child was in this situation…I can’t remember if she was born a girl but associated with being a boy or vice versa, but what I DO remember was that the parents accepted the child “becoming” the other gender they weren’t born as. And that meant a different name, different clothing, etc. Gosh, I can’t even imagine the struggles that young person will face as they mature.

    And I have no issues with one’s identity. Be who you feel you are! But I wonder if the confusion of identity is something that has been going on for centuries but was so taboo that we’ve just never heard of it. There are certainly accounts of homosexuals from a long time back. Granted – that’s preference and not identity, but times have sure changed too. Is it something genetic that causes the mind and body to have such disconnect? It’s a very complex and mysterious thing…to me anyway.

    One of my best friends is gay. I asked him not long ago why sexual preference had to be something we use to identify others? He said it always will be until we are viewed as equals. I don’t look at him as Gordon, my gay friend. He’s just Gordon! Maybe one day….

    • says

      Pamela, I don’t see others in terms of gay, straight, bi, trans, OR black, white, purple, etc. either…

      There has been BGLT people since the beginning of time, I think. It wasn’t Adam and Steve but Adam and Eve ONLY because there was only one man and one woman. However, even God makes mistakes. He is not perfect. If He was, there wouldn’t be wars and killings all the time. Right?

      It’s good to hear you’re accepting of others. And I don’t think they have found a “gay” gene, either, but I could be wrong. If I am, I’m sure someone will correct me.

  5. says

    I am in agreement with some of the other commenters in that as a society we sometimes get a little too wrapped up in the labels and the categories in which people should fit. people that aren’t the norm i.e. straight. To many labels is on one hand good because it provides a starting point for identification however too many labels does get confusing if you are trying to find a starting point and you can’t decide…confusing.

    • says

      Tim, I think I’m still confused! I’ve never heard of many of the terms I spoke about in this post UNTIL I wrote this post. Geez. Yeah, I’m confused, too…

      I do know I’m understanding myself a bit better, though. 🙂 So, hey, mission accomplished?

  6. Krystyna Lagowski says

    I think sometimes the whole gender identity conversation loses the fact that we’re all just human. When I meet someone new, I just look at the whole person, not their nationality, race or whatever. If you’re the person at the centre of the quandary, it might be a different story. So while I like to think of my friends and acquaintances as people, I’m glad they have the freedom to identify as they want. And I respect whatever choice they may make!

    • says

      Krystyna, I love your “accepting” attitude! Many people don’t have it, unfortunately.

      I’m also glad you were able to resolve your problem of finding the comment box. I can’t believe how long it took us to find such a simple solution! Geez. I guess it’s a good thing I installed that Contact Form, huh? 😉

      Imagine us trying to solve the problem via Twitter??? LOL

  7. says

    Hi Lorraine – considering this is such a sensitive subject, you did an amazing job of it. But I must admit, that while I have heard of gay, lesbian, transgender, I have never heard some of the other names you came up with. But that’s ok – I live deep in the Canadian boondocks, which means when I meet someone I don’t look for a gender, I just say Hello.
    Lenie

    • says

      Lenie, I hadn’t heard of half the names either, until I started researching this subject, so don’t feel bad. 😉 Besides, teaching others is one of the points to this post, and so I’m happy to educate you!

      Thanks for the compliment, and for your comment, too, Lenie.

  8. JACQUELINE GUM says

    I’ve never had a problem with people who identify themselves as anything other than straight. Fact is, I don’t think it should be relevant to what they do, who they can marry, or where they can live. I agree that it’s important to teach acceptance, I think there is a line where drawing so much attention to the cause is actually detrimental. It’s hard to achieve acceptance and become ‘mainstream’ when there is a movement whose goal would appear to be ‘I am special’. I feel the same way about other issues where there is prejudice as well.

    • says

      Jacquie, it’s important to remember who you are dealing with when it comes to sharing these attitudes. Adults? Easy. They’re already grown up and can judge for themselves who they are and what they want to be. Children and teens should be handled a bit differently, as their brains are still growing. With their growth, their hormones are changing, too. So while I appreciate what you’re saying as far as a whole movement that says “I’m special,” it’s sometimes IS a big deal to these youngsters. But you are right about teaching acceptance. For sure.
      Plus, I do agree with you in that we all should be free to marry whomever we want and that our sexuality should NOT be relevant to what we do or where we can live. Wholeheartedly. 🙂

  9. Wow, I lead a very sheltered life! I hadn’t heard of some of those obscure labels, Lorraine, thank you for enlightening me. In fact, I didn’t even know what LGBT was until I went to university and they had a society. I have never bothered about people’s sexual orientation. I have friends and relatives who are gay, but admittedly the majority of my peers (myself included) are heterosexual. I have idly wondered before now whether I could be bisexual, but the feelings just aren’t strong enough. Truthfully I think my life would be easier if I didn’t have men causing chaos and drama (sorry guys, I know that’s a bit mean on the rest of you!) I certainly have a lot more in common with the women in my life, and we support each other far more than our men do. The only difference is that we are sexually attracted to our men, and that is why we are married or in relationships.

    People are what they are, and that’s all there is to it. I don’t believe in having to label everything, it drives me crazy, but unfortunately that seems to be the way society functions. Thanks for starting this very interesting, and very important, discussion.

    • says

      Catherine, it’s important that the youth of today know that they are not being misunderstood. Things are changing. We are becoming a LOT more open about ourselves. Adults, children, teens, even the elderly are now discussing issues thought to be “taboo.” This is great!

      With so many openly gay people around nowadays, it’s easier to accept gays. But what about the person who doesn’t quite “fit” in with this crowd OR the straight crowd? Hmm. By designating other “labels” for folks such as them, we can at least give them a voice, and the knowledge that they can be heard. That they are important. That they matter.

      Isn’t making someone feel good about themselves worthwhile? I like to think this is one of the best things we can do for others. Don’t you?

      • Yes of course, if giving themselves a particular name or a sense of belonging to a group helps a person feel better, then by all means, I am quite happy to support whoever needs it. As far as I’m concerned we should all be happy and content with who we are, and I really do not understand people who dislike others simply because they are homosexual or anything else. That wonderful sense of ‘otherness’ is something I have craved all my life!

        • says

          Catherine, I despise discrimination on so many levels… and have been a victim of it a few times, for a few different reasons. It saddens me to think that I might be opening myself up to yet more discrimination.

          I’m reminded of the song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” We should all follow that!

  10. says

    Hi Lorraine

    Wow I have never heard those newer terms, The older ones sure. Some of the people I love most in the world are gay. I have some very close gay friends and a gay daughter. I am familiar with the confusion and everything that goes with it for them though.

    Wow there are some very in depth comment on this post, clearly a topic for discussion.

    An awesome post Lorraine and personally I do not care what sexual orientation someone has, what religious beliefs they have or what race they are etc etc as long as they too respect other people’s choices. I think the only thing I judge is someone telling me their way is the only way.

    Sue

    • says

      Sue, I’m of the same belief as you. I agree that respect is of the utmost importance, regardless of anything else.

      I didn’t know you have a gay daughter. I think it’s great that you can talk about it, too. A lot of people tend to shun their own blood, unfortunately. It’s good to see you are accepting of your daughter and love her for who she is. More parents should be like you.

      I know a few gay people who were disowned by their parents. It’s heartbreaking to see the pain they endure as a result. It’s almost like they have leprosy or something. Ugh. Those are the people who make me sick…

      One thing important to note here, too, is that, at some time or another, EVERYONE entertains bisexual thoughts. They may not speak of them, but they have them. Men, too. But they won’t admit it to another guy!!! Geez. I have had many sexual experiences with guys who have admitted to me these private things, so I speak from experience here. And yes, I’ve even had experiences with guys and helped them “discover” new things to like. (Yep… threesomes.)

      Okay, I might be revealing TMI (too much information) here… but suffice it to say, it’s better that we learn to speak of these things instead of keeping them bottled up inside. It might help the next person reading this… right?

      Plus, we have to be role models… don’t we? It’s often said that “our children are our future” but what we need to remember, too, is that “parents are looked to for guidance and love.” Regardless of who/what they are. After all, we are all PEOPLE. People with feelings.

  11. Kevin McDunn says

    to each his or her own its not for me to say you have to be this or that ,,that is up to you if you love your self the way you are ,,who am I to tell you whats right.

  12. Pete Rogan says

    In fact I do know a number of people whose sexual identity does cause them confusion and conflict, and in fact they are struggling with the same terms and what they mean and how they apply in real life to their own situation. For some of them, it’s been a limiting, halting affair, trying to figure out who they are so they can understand on their own terms how and why they should be attracted to somebody else. Sometimes the sexual politics gets in the way. Sometimes the sexual politics come after-the-fact and in justification of their newest attraction, or fling, or partner. Or in recognition that they don’t fit the old boxes any more and can’t find the right new one, but DO have a partner who is now part of the equation — and may not be the ideal he or she once seemed. Awkward.

    One woman I know has been living between multiple identities for decades, and not just sexually. She was raised Methodist but is a practicing Hindu, seeking a kind of personal syncretism. She is a vegetarian but admits she likes the smell of fried chicken. And she’s cheerfully bisexual but seems conflicted about her partners and their agendas, and has shown signs of being far more libertine than she actually wants to be — this discovery coming after she managed to pick up two male strangers at a party and had a threesome with them. Another woman I know has been exploring her sexuality but only with her husband; she writes some rather popular m/m romances with which she enjoys some success and while some of her more mainstream fiction characters are actively bi, and she says she’s the same, so far as I know she’s never had a romantic encounter with another woman.

    I know a young man who identifies as genderqueer because — Well, he’s a slender guy, not particularly androgynous, but he identifies strongly with the slender, deadly hornrim-wearing videogame character Bayonetta. He’s also exploring his sexuality, but so far as I know it’s largely tentative with both genders.

    Another friend of mine discovered, thanks to some rather suggestive play with her first husband, that she was bisexual — more like 50-50 in her case or about a 3 on the Kinsey Hetero-Homosexual Scale. It was quite a revelation to her, but one she enjoyed. She was herself beautiful, had been around beautiful women all her life (she used to be a stripper) and suddenly appreciated them more. I think it’s safe to say she was surprised but delighted.

    So your situation is not unique. Nor is your discomfort with your self-understanding. My observation has been that it simply takes time, and knowing people, to be able to come to some sort of resolution about your own feelings, and theirs. Yes, it’s complicated. As much as dating was when we were back in middle school, contemplating the concept. But we got over that, most of us, and came to an appreciation of who we are and what we want in our friends, and with our intimates. However we come to know them and them, us.

    By way of full disclosure, I’m a Kinsey 0. Or as my gay friends say, I’m ‘hopelessly straight.’ Apparently I’m one of the few who doesn’t have sexual identity confusion. I just talk to everybody about everything, and learn thereby.

    • says

      Peter, I’ve never heard of the Kinsey Hetero-Homosexual Scale, so thank you for sharing that tidbit of information. I’ve taken the test at http://vistriai.com/kinseyscaletest/ and found that I’m a 3, which doesn’t surprise me in the least.

      For everyone else out there, the ratings are as follows:

      0- Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual

      1- Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual

      2- Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual

      3- Equally heterosexual and homosexual

      4- Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual

      5- Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual

      6- Exclusively homosexual

      Thanks for sharing, Pete. I appreciate your comments each and every time you leave them here for me… which isn’t often. 😉 I always end up learning something from you! 🙂

  13. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity are two completely, utterly separate things. One has to do with who you are/are not attracted to sexually, and the other has to do with who you are — which gender (if any) with which you identify.

    So, LGBT (etc) has nothing to do with Transgender, Genderqueer, Intersex, etc. One is saying “Hey, I am sexually and mentally attracted to these people,” while the other is saying “I am a male/female/neither/both regardless of what’s between my legs.”

    I think the labels are important. Some people shy away from them, and just want to be themselves, which is great. But for others who were incredibly confused and felt ostracized, it has helped tremendously for them to be able to say “THIS is what/who I am” and to relate to others like them.

    Personally, I identify as bisexual (possibly pansexual, because really I’m attracted to every type of person and would date anyone, regardless of their gender) and androgynous, leaning more towards female. I have female parts, and was raised a female, and go about my life like a woman (mostly), but I’ve never felt “like a woman.” I feel like I identify more with men in many, many ways and often I wish I could be a man. But, I’m happy with both aspects of myself, so I don’t feel like one or the other. On top of that, neither of my “sides” fits the mold of what society thinks men and women should be. So, it has helped me identify as Androgynous — even if it’s confusing for many people, it helps me say “This is who I am.”

    • says

      Tempest, you bring up a great point: there is a distinction between who you’re attracted to and who you identify with. When writing this post, I didn’t quite understand the difference. Now I do.

      I, too, feel like you do – not entirely a woman, more a man, probably because I’m a dominant individual who is not super-feminine. But yet, I’m not “butch” either… I’d rather wear dresses than pants, but how I feel inside is a bit different than most women, I think. It’s still confusing for me…

      Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your honesty and openness.

      • Honestly I still get confused. There are many terms I have to look up to understand, and some that seem to mean the same thing. But, like I said, if these terms help people then I’m all for them. I know androgynous helped me. At the same time, I fully respect those who would rather not label themselves and just be human. I think it’s a matter of personal preference, really.

        • says

          I’m a bit confused, too, about the many different definitions… which is kinda the whole point of this discussion.

          Are you confused about them, or your own sexual identity, Tempest? (You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.)

  14. Carla Peele says

    This is very well written, Lorraine. And you are right, it’s very difficult to have the answers in a society that now seems to throw off more and more syndromes and terms just to confuse everyone else. Sometimes I think some of it was invented so people could have something to get offended about if you “don’t understand”. I don’t know.

    What I do know is that humans feel how they feel, and that is just nature. I do think it’s stupid the people who say that it’s “unnatural” and that such things should be hidden and your true nature lied about. If it was truly “unnatural”, then it would not occur in NATURE. (As in, there are documented cases of homosexuality or bisexuality in the animal kingdom– and if God had such a problem with it as some suggest, it would not exist in animals who only have instinct.)

    Personally, I think sticking with the LBGT would be easier for people to wrap their heads around. Asexual has always existed, however; it just used to be called “Frigid”. Some of the other terms seem to me to be just another word for what already exists just so they can feel “more different” or “more special” for some reason, since it’s becoming commonplace. I sometimes think that some people might have a chip on their shoulder about it and almost WANT to be on the outside about it, worrying so much that they WILL be misunderstood, they get to a point that they WANT that confrontation, and when it does not come, they create it. (A very good satirical example of this is the character of Davyth on “Little Britain” who keeps insisting “I am the only gay and you’ll have to get over it!!” but when confronted with the fact that everyone around him is okay with it, and in fact there are PLENTY like him in his village, he gets flustered and angry, trying to FIND a way to a confrontation any way he can, then huffily saying “See? This village is so homophobic…”)

    • says

      Carla, you raise a good point about there being bisexuality and homosexuality in nature. I actually think my parents even owned a cat that was gay. Seriously. He’d gravitate towards other males and shy away from female cats all the time. He was fixed, though, so I’ve never seen him try to hump another cat.

      Feelings are feelings, regardless of who or where they stem from, and all people are people. It’d be great if everyone could just accept everyone else, and get along. There’d be less fighting and less wars, too…

      Thanks for sharing. If you have anything else to say, anytime, please don’t hesitate to leave another comment, or even reply to someone else’s comment, okay? 🙂

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