11 types of sexualities and their meanings

FILE PHOTO: People dance during the Youth Pride event as part of World Pride and Stonewall anniversary in New York, U.S., June 29, 2019.  REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

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There’s a wide array of sexual orientations that someone may identify with. 

Sexual identity, or orientation, is the “gender that you are attracted to, or if you are interested in sex at all,” Jamie LeClaire, a sexuality educator, writer, and consultant, told Business Insider.

In the United States, the LGBT population — and the mainstream acceptance of this community — is only growing. Gallup estimated that the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBT was 4.5% in 2017, while 8.1% of millennials self-identified as LGBT.

In June, the Supreme Court decided that antidiscrimination employment protections apply to those within the LGBT umbrella — meaning that your employer cannot discriminate against you for your sexual identity.

More recently, as NPR reports, Supreme Court Justices Thomas Alito and Clarence Thomas “issued a broadside against the high court’s 2015 same-sex marriage decision,” which caused worry among some members of the LGBT community.

This rising awareness, coupled with the reach of social media and ever-increasing visibility, has led to more mainstream recognition of different sexual identities outside of just “gay” or “straight.” But even within those categories, there’s a variety of different terms people identify with.

SEE ALSO: 12 things you should never say to your LGBTQ coworkers

The historical concept of sexual identities is relatively new.

“The sexual identity in and of itself is a more recent phenomenon, so terms like heterosexual and homosexual came about in the late 1800s,” Dr. Brandon Robinson, an assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies at the University of California, Riverside, told Business Insider. “Identity is a more recent notion of who we are.”

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There has also been pushback to the creation of sexual identity markers, Robinson noted. In particular, scholar Michel Foucault viewed the rise of identity markers as “a way for science to be like, ‘heterosexuality is right,’ and we’re gonna label all these other sexual identities as well, as deviant sexualities.”

Yet, sexual identity — and finding one to identify with — can also help build community and allow individuals to understand their own desires. Much of this community building takes place online.

“I think social media has really transformed sexual identity, especially for sexual minorities, because often before social media, the only place you could find other LGBTQ people were gay bars,” Robinson said. “Of course, those have an age limit. Normally you have to be 21 to get in. And so I think social media has allowed much younger people to find community.”

For those navigating their own sexual identity, looking to learn more, or who are simply curious, Business Insider has compiled a list of more commonly known and used terms. Some people may find multiple identities resonate with them, while others may choose not to identify with any defined terms. 


Broadly and historically speaking, “lesbian” has been defined as a woman who is attracted to other women. However, LeClaire notes that people who don’t identify as female will still use the label.

“I know plenty of nonbinary people who identify as lesbian,” LeClaire said.


Source:: Businessinsider – Life


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