Sexual orientation: The type of sexual, romantic, and/or physical attraction someone feels toward others. Often labeled based on the gender identity/expression of the person and who they are attracted to. Common labels: lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, etc.
What Is Sexual Orientation?
Sexual orientation is the term used to describe what gender(s) someone is sexually and/or romantically attracted to. Sexual orientation is different from gender and gender identity — how you feel about and express your gender. Sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to and want to have intimate relationships with.
People who are attracted to members of the other gender often call themselves straight or heterosexual.
People who are attracted to people of the same gender often call themselves gay or homosexual. Women who are gay may prefer the term lesbian.
People who are attracted to both men and women, or people of any sex or gender identity, may call themselves bisexual.
People whose attractions span across many different gender identities (male, female, transgender, genderqueer, intersex, etc.) may call themselves pansexual or queer.
People who are unsure about their sexual orientation may call themselves questioning or curious.
People who don’t experience any sexual attraction for anyone may call themselves asexual.
Why do we keep saying “often” or “may”? Because some people don’t think these labels describe them accurately. Some people don’t like the idea of labels at all. Some people feel comfortable with certain labels and not others. It’s up to you to decide how you want to label yourself, if at all.
Some people describe themselves as queer. Queer is an umbrella term for a variety of sexualities and gender identities, including lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, pansexuals, transgender people, and some intersex people. “Queer” has ben used as a slur to hurt or insult people. Some people still find it offensive, but others feel like they’ve reclaimed the word and now use it with pride to identify themselves.