A sex ed blog with more
At Catalyst Con East, there was a panel called “Mostly Straight”: A New Sexual Orientation Group. This was an interesting academic panel where I didn’t feel like I was learning a whole lot of new info. This is because I myself identify as Heteroflexible, a term I actually learned from a transgender teen at a CISV leadership event a couple of years ago.
In this panel, we discussed the vast continuum of sexuality and it turns out that on this continuum there are a huge group of individuals who identify as Mostly Straight, or Heteroflexible. This is a group of people who are not really gay enough to identify as gay, or bisexual enough to identify as bisexual, or straight enough to consider themselves 100% straight. This group is comprised of more people than those who identify as gay, lesbian, and bisexual combined.
I will use myself as a prime example of heteroflexibility. I have only ever dated men, been in love with men, had sex with men. However, I learned to kiss from a female friend at the age of 15. I continued making out with ladies until the age of 20 or so and I loved it. I find women to be incredibly beautiful people, and I am often able to form very close, loving bonds quite easily with lots of women. I have sometimes thought: “If only we were sexually attracted to each other, this would be the best relationship ever.”
Being present for this panel was great because there were a lot of people who contributed by saying things like, “I’ve been trying to figure out where I fit, because I don’t feel right saying I’m straight or bi.” For a lot of people, being heteroflexible might mean that they fantasize about the same gender but are not interested in acting upon said fantasy. It could mean that they really like making out with boys but are not interested in a romantic relationship with boys.
What a lot of studies don’t take into consideration in terms of sexuality is who we fantasize about, what kind of porn we like, who we are romantically and physically attracted to, or who we have had past encounters with. There are a tonne of things to think about: crushes, fantasies, eroticism, desire, and more. I think it would be amazing if there were scientific studies that asked people questions that would address these different things.
To me, the idea of being Heteroflexible is so great because inherent in the term is the idea of flexibility. On this huge continuum of sexuality, I can move about with relative ease but not feel confused or lost. I would say that I’m never 100% hetero. Sometimes, I watch lesbian porn and think it’s awesome and sometimes, I really just want to see a dick on the screen. Some days I feel far more hetero than other days, and that’s okay. Moreover, we discussed that while most of the time we may be interested in hetero relationships and sex, sometimes if all of the stars line up, we will have a non-hetero experience.
Since this is such a huge group of people who consider themselves heteroflexible, we are able to recognize that there are a lot of us and that it’s okay. More studies about sexuality should take into consideration all of these grey areas that cover all different facets of one’s sexual orientation: fantasies, role play, the past, different kinds of attraction, etc.
As the understanding of sexuality and sexual fluidity are gaining ground, we require LOTS of labels and categories. The best way that humans can understand someone else is to relate it to themselves by putting ideas into nice, neat, little boxes. Sometimes these boxes overlap, which can be confusing for us. Having this heading of Mostly Straight or Heteroflexible is so important for those of us who fit into that category. It helps us to feel like we belong somewhere, because we’re not totally straight but also not gay or bi.
It seems like an idea that most people can wrap their brains around without a tonne of explanation. We understand ‘Hetero’, as in heterosexual; man and woman. And flexible, meaning things can change and move; things are slightly more fluid. This is nice because if we want to go into detail, we can, but in my experience it’s not really necessary.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out Zhana Vrangalova from Cornell. She regularly posts cool studies about sexuality on Twitter, and I’ve already found her to be a great resource in only 2 weeks.