The Sexual Identity Spectrum

James Franco in Drag, photographed by Terry Richardson

James Franco in Drag, photographed by Terry Richardson

Sexuality is often thought to be a choice between two options – heterosexual and homosexual. Bisexual is left as that awkward, fuzzy gray area between the black and white options of hetero versus homo Alfred Kinsey scale. However, we’re gradually learning that sexuality is a shifting point on a spectrum with multiple variables – a veritable color wheel of options.

Homosexuality and heterosexuality focus on the gender of the sex one is attracted to. Another variable is the number of relationships one needs in order to feel emotionally satisfied. So the spectrum there would be monogamy to polyamory. Polyamory – the practice of maintaining committed relationships with multiple people – is now understood to be a sexual orientation. Another dichotomy could be the amount of sex we desire, from asexual to sex addict. Maybe. Depends on who you’re asking.

A more complex measurement of sexuality is the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid (KSOG) that was developed by Fritz Klein. It measures sexual orientation using seven different dimensions of sexuality at three different points in a person’s life – past, present and ideal. It differentiates between who you’re attracted to, who you actually have sex with, and who you fantasize about.

Each attempt to quantify and measure sexuality seems to highlight how complex it is while failing to fully incorporate every possible variable. Now, rather than try to categorize one’s sexuality – which can shift over the course of one’s lifetime anyway – there’s a growing movement to just go with “queer“. Queer embraces a fluid, non-binary sexuality where people are attracted to people. Queer culture is an exploding pop culture phenomenon, with queers emerging as the new hip identity marker.

Lady Gaga


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