Gone are the days when the gender binary was a thing people unanimously believed in. Today, society is starting to learn to accept fluidity as the norm when it comes to not just who we are but who and how we love. And, as more and more people step up to acknowledge their gender and sexual identity, newer terms and categories defining the changes are constantly introduced to their repertoire.
First things first, we should get our basics clear. Are you aware there is a distinction between a person’s sexuality and gender identity? To give you better clarity on this subject, we had a conversation with counseling psychologist and certified life-skills trainer Deepak Kashyap (Masters in Psychology of Education), who specializes in a range of mental health issues, including LGBTQ and closeted counseling.
Deepak explains, “Sexuality is about to whom and how you are attracted to people. While gender identity advocates how you understand and look at yourself in the context of your own body and social expression of your body.” Even in the 21st century, people hesitate to talk to someone about their pronouns. Little do they care, pronouns are an integral part of a person’s identity, who they really are.
Deepak suggests, “There is no need to make a fuss. You go up to that person and ask, “What pronouns do I use for you?” As simple as that.” For the uninitiated, queer or otherwise, this ever-growing collection of words can get a bit scary. But fret not, baby queers and new allies, for I will attempt to give you a small crash course on the various types of sexualities out there.
15 Types Of Sexualities And Their Meanings Simplified
The queers of the world have taught us that love is love. No matter who you are, who you love, and how you choose to express your feelings to someone you love – there is a place for you in this world. But while however and whoever you love is valid, you still may want to know all sexualities and meanings. After all, even though labels don’t matter, they do help you seek out others who feel what you feel.
Maybe it’s high time for every individual to be vocal about their sexuality. “You first check whether you are safe to be vocal in that situation. If you are physically safe, then you take the risk of being uncomfortable,” Deepak mentions in this context, “As long as you are not in danger, it’s okay to take that risk if you choose to. And the way you answer, your expressions should not come out in an apologizing tone. You simply state who you are.”
Before getting into the terminologies, let’s look back at history for a second. After a massive survey, American biologist and sexologist Kinsey invented a scale of the sexuality spectrum for better categorization of different sexualities. His aim was to not bind people rigidly between homosexual and heterosexual. Kinsey scale (1948) tries to measure the various sexual preferences on a scale from 0-6, with an added category named ‘X’.
Here, ‘0’ stands for exclusively heterosexual, and ‘6’ suggests exclusively homosexual, whereas ‘X’ represents no socio-sexual contacts or reactions or asexual to be precise. Anyone with mixed sexual preferences falls between 1 and 5. Despite being a revolutionary work, the Kinsey scale has lost its relevance in the modern world because it failed to capture other complex sexual identities.
So, how many sexualities are there in 2022? There’s not exactly a specific number to count sexual orientations. As it can be intimidating to remember all sexualities and their meanings, we have chosen to clarify the most widely known and discussed terms. If you are still exploring your sexuality, this is the right guide for you. Without further ado, here’s a list and the meanings of 15 different types of sexualities out there:
Let’s begin the discussion of all sexualities and their meaning with allosexuals, people who experience sexual attraction and engage in sexual activities. This term normalizes the existence of asexual people i.e., people who feel an aversion toward sex or may just not feel any sexual attraction at all. While being in a relationship, allosexuals can experience both romantic and physical attractions toward their partner.
Asexuality, as mentioned before, is a term that refers to people who do not feel sexual attraction or are just kinda disgusted by the concept of sex in general. While usually turned off by the idea of sex in general, asexual people can experience romantic feelings/attraction toward other people. The word allosexual was suggested by this community to prove the point that asexuality is not a disorder. It’s completely normal to not feel sexually attracted toward any gender.
Aromantic people just don’t get romance. They don’t have romantic feelings toward people of any gender or sexuality. While an aromantic person may also be asexual (or feel no urge to have sex), an aro person isn’t necessarily disgusted by sex. Aromantic people go through a hard time understanding the concept of having a crush on someone or falling in love. They don’t believe that amorous relationships are an absolute necessity for human beings. While they don’t experience romantic feelings, they may feel sexually attracted to people of their preferred genders and sexuality.
Androsexual people are ones who are attracted to men, males, or people who exhibit masculine tendencies. Androsexuals are not meant to be heterosexual cisgender women. An androsexual person and the people they are attracted to, both parties could be either cisgender, transgender, or nonbinary. The category doesn’t limit itself using skewed ideas of assigned gender, sex, and/or anatomy and broadly refers to attraction experienced toward any man, male, or masculine person.
Gynesexual people are sexually and/or romantically attracted to femininity, females, and women. Again, Gynesexuals are not restricted to lesbians or heterosexual cisgender men. This term does not limit itself by gender, sex, or anatomy. It is an inclusive term meant to include all signs of attraction that one may experience toward any feminine person, female, and/or woman. You can refer to this orientation as Gynephilia as well.
Related Reading: 10 Myths & Misconceptions About Gay People
Often referred to as straightness, heterosexuality includes those people who are romantically and sexually attracted to people who, according to the archaic gender binary definitions, belong to the “opposite” gender. So, that would mean a “man” getting attracted to a “woman” and vice versa.
This is another one of those archaic terms that include people who are attracted to and engage in erotic activities with people of their own (or similar) gender. Homosexuals are often further divided into two categories, i.e., gay and lesbian, depending on their gender identity. They can broadly be called by the umbrella term ‘queer’, which used to be a derogatory remark to label non-binary people as ‘peculiar’ toward the late 19th century. Over the years, this term has gained significance, and all people who fall under the LGBTQ spectrum identify themselves as queer.
Bisexual or bi people are ones who feel attracted to more than one gender, including their own. They can be attracted to cisgender males and females as well as transgender and non-binary folks. You cannot divide bisexual people into two distinct halves of heterosexuality and homosexuality. The attraction is not just sexual, though, and includes romantic and emotional attraction too. However, the romantic and emotional connection may not always be there even when there is sexual attraction.
Bicurious people are ones who are still exploring and not quite sure if they’re bisexual. So, they may be open to dating or sleeping with people of their own and other genders, at least until they’ve confirmed their orientation. If you have been identifying yourself as a heterosexual and now you want to discover the new realm of bisexuality, you can call yourself bicurious. A person can stay bicurious their whole life not fixating on a specific label.
Biromantic people are romantically, but not sexually, attracted to not just people of their own gender but ones with other gender identities. A biromantic person won’t necessarily also feel sexually attracted to people of different genders (including their own) but a person can, of course, be biromantic and bisexual at the same time.
Pan means all, and thus pansexual people are attracted to all people. It doesn’t matter what gender, sex, or orientation the person is. Pans can get romantically and sexually attracted to everyone. The term pansexual arose when there was technical confusion regarding the definition of bi-sexual. ‘Bi’ refers to the gender binary of cisgender men and women leaving transgenders and non-binary people out of the category, whereas pansexual is an all-inclusive term.
Demisexuality falls on the ace – or asexual – spectrum. This means that while demisexuals don’t always show complete aversion to sex, they do exhibit certain asexual tendencies. Demisexuals can get sexually attracted to people but they usually need an emotional or romantic connection to be established first. Once that condition is met, demisexuals can enjoy sex as usual but may not engage in sex as much as a non-demisexual would.
Like demisexuals, demiromantic people also need certain conditions met before they feel any romantic feelings toward a person. Usually, this means that they need an emotional connection to be established first before they feel any kind of lovey-dovey feelings toward anyone.
Graysexual people are again ones on the asexual spectrum while not being fully asexual. They do feel sexual attraction and they do desire sex now and then but they tend not to get horny as often as people who are not graysexual do. These people are more comfortable with non-sexual physical intimacy such as cuddling. Graysexual is a middle ground between allosexual and asexual, closer to asexual.
Grayromantic people are on the aromantic spectrum but aren’t fully aromantic. This means that they do get romantic feelings toward people but not as much as most others. Grayromantics hardly ever feel the urge to initiate a romantic relationship even if they are romantically attracted to someone. They exist in the gray section between romantic and aromantic.
This one was a new term even for me. Cupiosexuality apparently includes aces (or asexual people) who, while don’t feel any sexual attraction, want to still have sex and engage in similar physical activities.
So, before we conclude, let me ask you a question – Are we more accepting now as a society about different types of sexualities? Deepak happens to believe, “It’s better than before. But we can’t categorize ourselves as an accepting society yet. We have specific accepting people in the society but I don’t think we have enough acceptance at a social and systematic level to characterize ourselves as an accepting society.”
We can only hope the picture will change over time and people across all types of sexualities will gain equal respect and validation. While this article just lists 15 types of sexualities, know that there are many, many more out there. Considering how many sexualities are there in 2022, it may get hard to find who you are right away. But even if you do relate to all sexualities and their meanings listed here or none at all, know that your feelings and your existence are valid. Don’t let the world or some article on the internet tell you otherwise.