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SEXUAL ORIENTATION

 

APA: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Psychology Video: What Causes Sexual Orientation?

Web MD: Sexual Orientation

Sexual Orientation Video: Is It a Choice?

Planned Parenthood: Sexual Orientation and Gender

Sexual Orientation Guide: Am I Gay?

 

Definition

Sexual Orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction that a person feels toward another person. A person might have an attraction for someone of the same sex (homosexual, gay, lesbian), or the opposite sex (heterosexual, straight), or both sexes (bisexual).

--Gay: A man who is romantically/sexually attracted to or intimately involved with other men (same sex).
--Lesbian: A woman who is romantically/sexually attracted to or intimately involved with other women (same sex).
--Bisexual: A person who is romantically/sexually attracted to or intimately involved with both men and women (both sexes).
--Heterosexual (Straight): A person who is romantically/sexually attracted to or intimately involved with members of the opposite sex.

 

 

Sexual orientation describes an enduring pattern of attraction to the opposite sex, the same sex, or both sexes, and the genders that accompany them. These attractions are generally subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. Asexuality (the lack of romantic or sexual attraction to others) is sometimes identified as the fourth category.

According to the American Psychological Association, sexual orientation also refers to a person's sense of "personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them. "

 

Sexual Orientation Guide: Am I Gay?

Sex and Gender Intro: A Beginnerís Guide

UC Davis: LGBTQ Glossary of Terms

LGBTQ Video: How You See Me

Sexual Orientation Video: Is It a Choice?

Radically Queer


The term sexual preference overlaps with sexual orientation, but is distinguished in psychological research. A person who identifies as bisexual, for example, may sexually prefer one sex over the other. However, the term "sexual preference" suggests a degree of voluntary choice. This is disputed in terms of sexual formation, as consensus among scholars is that sexual orientation is not a choice. There is no simple, single cause for sexual orientation that has been conclusively demonstrated, but research suggests that it is by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences, with biological factors involving a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Research over several decades has demonstrated that sexual orientation ranges along a continuum, from exclusive attraction to the opposite sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex.

 



Sexual orientation indicates who we are erotically attracted to. And it falls along a continuum. The ends of this scale are labeled "attracted to women" and "attracted to men." In the mid-range is bisexuality; there are also people who are asexual (attracted to neither men nor women). We tend to think of most people as falling into one of the two extreme categories (attracted to women or attracted to men), whether they are straight or gay, with only a small minority clustering around the bisexual middle. However, Kinsey's studies showed that most people are in fact not at one extreme of this continuum or the other, but occupy some position between.

 

Kids Health: Sexual Orientation

LGBTQ Video: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Huff Post: New Orientation to Sex

Psychology 101 Video: Sexual Orientation

Wikipedia: Sexual Orientation

Animated Video: Gender and Sexuality

 

Sexual Behavior: Orientation and Identity

Most definitions of sexual orientation include a psychological component, such as the direction of an individual's erotic desire, or a behavioral component, which focuses on the sex of the individual's sexual partner(s). Some people prefer simply to follow an individual's self-definition or identity.

The APA states that "sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction toward others. It is easily distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female), and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior). Sexual orientation exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. Bisexual persons can experience sexual, emotional, and affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only). Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Individuals may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors."

 



Sexual identity and sexual behavior are closely related to sexual orientation, but they are distinguished, with identity referring to an individual's conception of themselves, behavior referring to actual sexual acts performed by the individual, and orientation referring to "fantasies, attachments and longings." Individuals may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors. People who have a homosexual sexual orientation that does not align with their sexual identity are sometimes referred to as "closeted." The term may, however, reflect a certain cultural context and particular stage of transition in societies which are gradually dealing with integrating sexual minorities.

In studies related to sexual orientation, when dealing with the degree to which a person's sexual attractions, behaviors and identity match, scientists usually use the terms concordance or discordance. Thus, a woman who is attracted to other women, but calls herself heterosexual and only has sexual relations with men, can be said to experience discordance between her sexual orientation (homosexual or lesbian) and her sexual identity and behaviors (heterosexual).

Sexual identity may be more effective in describing a person's perception of his or her own sex, rather than sexual orientation.

 

 

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