Compromising Positions

A sex ed blog with more

Heteroflexible

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.

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4 comments on “Heteroflexible

  1. disconcerted72
    April 2, 2014

    Just when I think I have my sexual orientation figured out, I come across information like this. Quite interesting, I have to admit and never really considered this as a possiblity.

    But thanks for the information! 🙂

  2. Stefanie
    April 3, 2014

    Great writeup, Julia!

  3. Cameleon Montgomery
    April 3, 2014

    As requested:

    Here’s where my logic came from with the word heteroflexible.
    While also saying something about my body potentially, I use the word heteroflexible to take self-naming and use it as an opportunity to challenge heteronormativity (the assumption that everyone is straight, ie. “that’s a cute girl, does she have a boyfriend?”). It is my declaration of being an ally, ‘spending my privilege wisely’ (my hetero-privilege). Recognizing heterosexuality is flexible is itself a challenge to heteronormativity. When people ask you about your sexuality and you say “heteroflexible”, you’re basically saying to the monogamous-Christian-purity-type of heterosexuality that you’re kind of hetero-queer. Yay!
    I have lots of friends who use the term now, and as it goes, everyone ascribes their own meaning to it and I get that. My one suggestion in this situation is to remember that “the personal is political” (Carol Hanisch, second-wave feminism). Self-naming is an important part of personal empowerment, but also there is a political dimension to it as well, and the empowerment is all the greater when you put what you’re doing into context.
    All the power to you though however you use it, and enjoy your self-exploration!

  4. saulofhearts
    April 6, 2014

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been identifying as heteroflexible lately, and I think we’re going to see a lot more of this in the near future. So far, it seems to be something that more women are comfortable with than guys, but hopefully as time goes by we’ll be able to change that. I’m putting a website together to address the subject from a guy’s POV.

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