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Measuring sexual identity

Many people think of sexuality being three distinct categories: straight, gay and bisexual. However, this does not work for everybody. Some people find that their sexuality does not fit neatly into one of those three identities. Some people's sexuality shifts over time, and some find that their sexuality is constantly changing. Some people have multiple partners (they define as polyamorous), and may consider their sexuality to be different with different partners. A person may be straight but enjoy socialising with queer people. Some people are asexual and therefore find it hard to identify with any of the standard options. The idea that there are only two genders to choose from (male and female) causes even more difficulties for some.

Society tries to limit even further our understanding of sexuality:

  • marriage to the 'opposite sex' is considered the most appropriate expression of adult sexuality
  • people are expected to be publicly affectionate with only one gender
  • many people do not allow themselves to be attracted to both men and women
  • we often believe that we should remain consistent with whatever sexual identity we have chosen.

There are other ways of looking at sexual identity. This section looks at some of the alternative methods.

Conclusion

There are very many ways of interpreting and representing sexuality, allowing us to open our minds beyond the standard "gay", "straight" and "bisexual" options. All of the methods of measuring sexual identity on this page have their strengths and their flaws, but they encourage us to expand our ideas of sexual identity. They give us the freedom to disregard it all and come up with our own definitions.

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