“Simply put, labels help us find the people we want to connect with.” – Evolve
“Sexual freedom means being able to identify however you choose, even if that means identifying with nothing at all.” – Suzannah Weiss
When you think of a sex positive person, who do you see? Do you see someone from your life? A celebrity? Do you see someone certain in who they are, who they want, and how to communicate both? From this perspective, it can seem unattainable. However, put simply, sex positivity is an attitude that believes any form of sexual activity or sexuality is valid so long as truth and consent is communicated between the parties involved.
You, too, can have that kind of confidence—by going on a journey of self-reflection and exploration that is completely unique to every human being. A great starting point would be reflecting on three aspects of sex positivity: romantic/sexual orientation, your sex drive, and consensual language. This week we’ll take a closer look at romantic/sexual orientation—in other words, figuring out who you want.
Did you know that there are two distinct types of attraction you can feel? This includes sexuality and romanticism. Your sexuality, or sexual orientation, describes what gender(s) that you are physically attracted to. Meanwhile, your romanticism, or romantic orientation, describes what gender(s) you are emotionally attracted to. The former generally describes people you want to touch and be touched by, and the latter usually describes the people you want to show affection, go on dates with, and be their companion. However, each person will experience these attractions in a way that is unique to them.
Your attractions may be directed towards the same gender(s). It’s also normal for them to not match up, or even not to feel one kind of attraction. In fact, there is vocabulary to describe these differences in attraction, called labels. You can read more about these labels in HU’s 2SLGBTQIA+ package.
Labels are extremely popular. Here are a few of the reasons why people of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community choose to use labels:
1. A Source of Community with Others Who Feel The Same.
2. To Demonstrate Pride.
3. Ease of Communication.
Though the use of labels to describe attraction is widespread, there definitely isn’t a consensus. Here are reasons that some believe that labels are more harmful than they are helpful:
1. They May Put You in a Box.
2. There’s a Pressure to Figure it Out.
3. After “Coming Out”, Changing Your Label is Stigmatized.
“Before you can be comfortable asking for what you want, you need to be comfortable with who you are.” -- HU Sex Positivity Package
So, why bring this topic up? To show you that you have options. There is no right or wrong answer to the use of labels—all that matters is how you feel. You don’t have to choose a label if you feel like none of them represent who you are. You can come out with a label and change your mind later on. Sex positivity is all about being comfortable with who you are before asking for what you want. Just remember:
1. Choose a Label—Or Don’t. It’s your choice—take pride in it.
2. Change Your Mind. As you explore, you learn more about how you feel. Perhaps your attractions are fluid and have changed. That’s normal, too.
3. Communication is Key. Tell your partner in what way you’re attracted to them. Let them know if anything changes.
If this acceptance comes with wearing your new label with pride, then that’s fantastic. If you’re happier simply exploring what you like, by yourself or with others, that’s awesome too. Sex positivity means you don’t have to be ashamed of how you do or do not define yourself.