Sexual orientation more than just a label

Recently I discussed the concept of sexuality with one of my classmates and when she asked me to define my own sexual orientation, like many of my friends have done in the past, I did not have an answer for her. My reason for not answering her question was not because I don’t know how to define my sexual orientation but instead because I do not see the point in labeling it.

Sexuality is only one facet of an entire human being. Unfortunately, we live in a society that thrives on an obsessive need to label everything and everyone.

The latest example of society’s need to brand everything is the media’s interpretation of Miley Cyrus’s interview with OUT magazine. Cyrus shared with a reporter that not all of her romantic relationships have been heterosexual and that she is learning to understand that being a girl is not what she hates–it’s the box that she gets put into.

While Cyrus did not explicitly define her sexual identity in her interview, it did not stop numerous online lifestyle and culture publications from labeling Cyrus’s non-heterosexual relationships as non-straight or gender queer.

For me, putting a label on my sexuality is like allowing myself to be placed into a box.  It’s Pronounced Metrosexual, a website that helps individuals be accurate and respectful when using identifying language, provides a handful of terms I could use to label my sexual identity including asexual, bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual, polysexual and gay. Yet, using one of those terms to define myself feels neither right nor necessary. Even if I did align with one of these identities today, who’s to say I won’t change it tomorrow?

Alfred Kinsey’s “Kinsey Scale” is the most accurate way I can explain how I feel about the concept of sexuality. American biologist Kinsey and his colleagues developed the Kinsey Scale in 1948 to account for the research showing that people did not fit into neat and exclusive heterosexual or homosexual categories, according to Kinsey Institute.

Kinsey and his team interviewed men and women about their sexual history and found that for many people, sexual behavior, thoughts and feelings towards the same or opposite sex were not always consistent over time.

Although I know there are a lot of individuals who feel 100 percent comfortable and confident in declaring their heterosexuality or homosexuality, I feel the majority of society falls somewhere on Kinsey’s spectrum. It is the pressure from peers, parents or society that force people to lean toward one end or the other.

I’ve personally witnessed one of my very close friends “come out” as bisexual and she was hassled from both her gay and straight friends for not “picking a side,” she said. She told me her straight friends think she is just experimenting while her gay friends say that she is “confused.”

Actress Blanche Dubois said it best in Tennessee William’s “A Street Car Named Desire.” “A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains,” she said.

The only way to overcome this obsessive need to label everyone’s sexuality is through education and acceptance. If we as a society make a conscious effort to educate ourselves and each other about sexuality, we will be less critical of others’ sexual identities, or lack thereof.