Saturday, January 24, 2009

Open Forum: Sexual Fluidity

Studies show that sexuality and gender are not black or white concepts. These aspects of identity formation lie along a continuum where on one end people strongly feel heterosexual or homosexual with regards to sexuality, and male or female with regards to gender identity.

Most people lean towards and identify more with their male or female gender and their heterosexual orientation. Whereas gay, bisexual, asexual, and transgender people have a mental notion of where they lie on the continuum and firmly establish that as their identity.

What about those who don't lie firmly on the continuum? Some people experience sexual fluidity, and this concept is forcing us to reconsider our ideas about sexuality and gender identity.

There are some people who experience more homosexual desires one day or for a period of time, and then reverse for a period of time to have more heterosexual desires. Are these people simply bisexual? Bisexuals have a consistent orientation of being attracted to both genders, but for the sexually fluid their identity seems to change frequently. Those who blur gender lines, are fluid as well, they may decide to embrace more of a female identity one day, and a male one the next.

Sexual fluidity is real, and there are probably people who will comment here who can attest to that experience. If we accept the notion that some people will be shifting, we need to ask ourselves why this is? If some people shift, we must accept that it is natural for some people to shift from gay to straight and straight to gay over the course of their lifetime.

What do you all make of sexual fluidity? All comments are welcome, but please ensure that nobody is being attacked for their respective identities.


Anonymous said...

Once I came out as a lesbian I was all gung ho lesbian for many years. Now I'm currently dating a man but still identify as lesbian not bi. I find that the older I get the less the labels mean.

Queers United said...

I identify as queer, I find that while I am mostly attracted to men, there is some attraction to women. Some people say this is bisexual, but my interest in women comes and goes while my gay identity maintains itself.

Anonymous said...

"I find that the older I get the less the labels mean." Absolutely!

I used to be totally lesbian: I could never have dated men as a woman. When I started identifying as a transman, my attraction shifted to mainly men. This is very recent, though, so I'll probably keep flowing orientation-wise.

PS: About the term "continuum" - I wouldn't define gender as a continuum: it implies a hierarchy. For instance, a person nearer the feminine end would be "more feminine" than someone nearer the middle, but how do you measure that? Who's nearer the masculine end: a butch woman or a femme transman? And if there are more than two genders, there can't be a sexuality continuum, either.

The continuum is a nice metaphor, but I find it kind of problematic.

mave said...

I consider myself Pansexual, not only because I am attracted to all ranges of people regardless of their gender, sexual identity or sexual preference, but also because I really stand against the gender binary that's been imposed upon us. I think it's destructive, and politically we as queers should be trying to fight against it and deconstruct it.

I think sexual fluidity is perfectly natural, as is any kind of fluidity of personality, preference, experience or attitude. We're all so busy trying to put ourselves into little boxes and labels that we forget we're human beings, and we are a hell of a lot more similar than we are different. I don't get why we're always trying to define ourselves based on parameters of difference, rather than focusing on what we share.

It's no better than the abhorrent practice of considering heterosexual the norm and treating queers as "the other". We shouldn't be in any way willing to take part in this practice. We should be working to stamp it out.

Anonymous said...

Whilst the gender part of my life is easy to fix (being a trans woman, I'm pretty strongly gendered on the female side), I can identify with sexual fluidity.

I find myself mostly attracted to women largely due to the depth of relationship that I find in lesbian relationships and don't find so easily in heterosexual relationships, but I just can't let gender get in the way of who I fall for in the end.

You know how it is, you meet someone and there's that 'something special'. This happens with both genders and I've had some lovely relationships with some men. The plumbing and the gendered aspects of the body have little to do with it, it's the personality and that spark one sees in some people.

I try to focus on women because I know that in term of maintaining a relationship, there's something I find so rarely in hetero relationships. However, I know that it's just as likely I'll find some guy who I just feel comfortable with and I'll have nothing to do with the choice in the end.

I guess I find it easier to fall for a person and their personality than a gender.

Anonymous said...

it's been great reading these post! I'm a psych student & have really taken some time to study the DSM and how it stigmatizes gender expression in conjunction with sexual orientation. Besides "GID", Pan-sexuality and some other diagnoses really say you are sick in the head if you transcend our elitist ideologies of gender and sex. While I was in grad school I really spoke out about how the DSM and psychology have the power to stigmatize people who are different and empower social injustice for Queer and trans folks. I received no support from gay men in my program or class, they seemed far more focused on protecting themselves from being emasculated. I support the Gay community (both females/males) but sometimes it feels like they don't always return the favor! :(

libhom said...

Sexual fluidity is a euphamism for bisexuality. People should treat bisexual people as equals and stop worrying about it.

Stephen said...

These posts are very interesting. However, I find one variable lacking and that is primarily with gay men. It is very difficult for a gay man to be "Fluid" in sexual relationships if their sexual apparatus does not function. Granted there are many different types of sexual expression which may be enough. But without penis erectus NO coitus occurs.

Anonymous said...

While I can certainly understand the concept behind the term 'sexual fluidity', I have trouble figuring out how a person could be considered as an authentic lesbian or gay person, meaning that their sexual orientation is innate. I mean, how can one possibly consider themselves as authentic and still be so fluid. I can understand attraction even, but constantly switching gears is something definitely worth researching. This has indeed opened my eyes to the possibility of gender/sexual fluidity, which is something that I never really considered.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I feel all gay, sometimes bisexual.I think bisexuality and sexual fluidity are more common than one generally is made to believe.

Anonymous said...

I know that my gender identity, at least, is pretty fluid. Most of the time I feel more of a 'neither' than anything, but there are times when it's just like "Wow, I feel like a girl/boy", though I couldn't explain why.

I certainly makes defining oneself difficult. It's why I like the term 'queer', personally. :)

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way as traduit.

Some days, I'm full on lesbian or straight. Other days, I don't feel sexual at all. It's weird.

I've considered writing a book about it for some time now.

Anonymous said...

"There are some people who experience more homosexual desires one day or for a period of time, and then reverse for a period of time to have more heterosexual desires. Are these people simply bisexual? Bisexuals have a consistent orientation of being attracted to both genders, but for the sexually fluid their identity seems to change frequently."

I don't agree that fluidity excludes one from being bisexual. I fluctuate between being attracted to women more than men, or vice versa, or to both men & women simultaneously. But I don't say "I'm gay" one day and "I'm straight" the next. I claim a bisexual identity, even though it's never been rigid for me. In fact, I believe that is a myth about bisexuality.

Bi doesn't mean 2 and always 2 and always with the same intensity. Rather, it means the capacity to be emotionally, physically, or spiritually attracted to people of more than one gender, no matter the intensity or the timing. Right now I'm most attracted to my opposite gendered partner, and tomorrow I could theoretically be more attracted to someon of the same gender, but that doesn't make me not bi.

To say that one can flow from straight to gay and back again completely overlooks the "middle ground" or the range in which that flow takes place, which is, for me and other bisexual people, bisexuality itself.

I am not intending to say that anyone who identifies as fluid is really just bi, but that the queer community cannot overlook the experience of us who identify as bisexual by calling us "fluid" and "not really bi" thereby making us invisible.

Queers United said...

Well, labeling is really up to the individual. But generally bisexuals are consistent in their attraction to both genders. Someone fluid who has attraction to men more one day and women more in another time period is bi in the sense that they are capable of loving both genders, but if on the days they like one gender and if they don't like the other one during that time period that doesn't seem bi but rather fluid.

Anonymous said...

It's not so clear cut for all bi people. That's why we've been dubbed fence-sitters; we can't decide. The fence has been built to keep straight and gay apart, while bi;s sit atop the fence to dismantle it, ultimately allowing all to become fluid, rangers and wanderers. Read this post for more if you're interested.

Anonymous said...

I see myself as rainbow rather then fluid, bi, lesbian, gay, queer, ect.
I dont know where I sit on the "contium" I know i like girls and i dont know if i like guys... i used to think i was hetero cos i never thought of anything else and all thru high school I thought relationships where out of my reach so I never thought about it.
I find Rainbow suits cos it fits anything even if you dont know where u sit!!!

Anonymous said...

Its for me also very strange, I can feel realy
gay and than I also feel more feminine. This can hold on for a few days or weeks. After that there is mostly a time without sexual feelings and then i start to become heterosexual. I'm seldom attracted to both at the same time. Sometimes it can happen that I met somebody who is so realy nice that i change in a split second. I have this already my whole life but became stronger with the years. Emotional I'm more attracted by women sexually more by men. I think that there are people like me who on the Klein Grid have score that shows that their emotional desires and sexual desires are not very close together. I think thats the problem for me. When i am in a relationship with a woman I don't realy mis the sex with man. I never had a relationship with a man, maybe i should try but it simply don't happens. When i'm not in a relationship i have only sex with men because it is much more easy and also satisfying. But the last years it seems that i more and more lean to be gay. I have rarely sex with women. Maybe i got an emotional blocade to relationships with gay men. What i think about that is that its more easily to put myself emotional open and except an emotional bond with men. Then to change my sexual desires.I'm fortyfive now and when i was younger i had a lot of fantasies about women more than to men. Now its the other way around, I rarely have fantasies about women, only in a sort of dominated way were they are on top. What do you think: I'm making a very slow transition toward being gay? I still want only relationships with women. I simply don't meet the wright Guy.

someguy said...

This is not a new concept... The thing that IS new is the idea that PEOPLE are "homosexual", "bisexual", "heterosexual". They aren't. Activities, desires, circumstances can be, but not PEOPLE. It's like considering someone to be vegetarian because they pass on the meat course for a while. The main reason people choose to identify is because we have conceptualized this notion -- these labels -- we've bought into it. Sexual preference is a matter of taste, that's it. Don't confuse ideas of intimacy and love with sex -- they're different -- they really are -- whether we want to separate them or not.

Anonymous said...

It's strange to read all this. I, long ago, dropped my prejudice against Gay people. I'm not even nervous about being alone with homosexuals nor am I a homophobe. I even love anal sex including fisting.

But, I'm strongly attracted to females and just bored by men unless they want to talk about women. I could have anal intercourse with a man but my heart would just not be in it without a pretty girl around although I might enjoy the feeling as of a dildo. But I can do this for myself with just as much enjoyment.

I wish they could do more research but it's one of those political questions that we are incapable of treating objectively.

I guess I'm just doomed to having sex with women. Maybe someday I'll know why but I'm not betting the ranch on it.

Post a Comment