What are the different types of sexuality?
on Sep 15, 2022
To help you on your own sexual journey, we're here with the skinny on the most common sexual orientations and preferences.
Medically reviewed by Dr Megan Fleming
You have probably seen the acronym LGBTQIA+ which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual sexual orientations. However, the multi-colored rainbow of sexual preference is much more varied than the list we have provided below.
Numerous terms have been created to encompass the wide range of desires one may have, as well as how one may personally identify on the scale of sexual diversity. This allows individuals to choose a type of sexuality that suits their personal preferences, which can be very empowering. For some people, it may also be confusing, especially with new terms being created every day.
Finding your own sexual orientation is a deeply personal journey. If you feel confused about where you might fit in - it’s completely normal. But we’re here to help with a list of the most common sexuality types and all LGBTQ flags and meanings (that we could find anyway!). While this list is not exhaustive, it should get you started on identifying the differences between sexual orientation, and the pride flag meanings, which will hopefully help you on your own sexual journey.
What does sexuality mean?
Sexuality exists on a wide spectrum from heterosexual to gay, queer, and everything in between. It is an umbrella term that defines your sexual preference, and with whom you’d like to have sex. These terms are used to express the way in which we are aroused, as well as our desires and identity.
It is “an individual's enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction to members of the same and/or different sex and/or gender,” according to the LGBTQiA+ support site for young people The Trevor Project.
Sexuality and sexual preferences are fluid and ever-evolving. Unlike past, limited ideas of binary sexuality and gender, new ideas of sexuality are now more inclusive and changeable. This means you can identify one way one day, and a different way the next. This also means you can choose more than one way to identify, or even make up your own identity that suits you best.
You can also choose not to identify with any label or community at all, and that’s totally cool. There is absolutely no pressure to solidify your sexual orientation or sexual identity. You are free to choose.
Labels can be useful in helping people to understand where they identify, but they can also be restrictive as well. It is quite alright to explore different labels and see how they fit, or to avoid them completely. There is no right or wrong way to identify, as this is a part of your individual choice and freedom.
Sexuality is also different from gender identity, with which it is often confused. Gender refers to how one identifies as either male, female, or as a non-binary person, and is a socially constructed concept. This also includes agender, genderfluid, or gender non-conforming identities.
Gender is also fluid, and as the Trevor Project suggests, exists on a spectrum that takes into consideration a person’s:
And sexual orientation
These concepts make up the huge diversity of human gender social construction. Because, just like snowflakes, we are all unique!
Is it normal to question your sexuality?
It is absolutely normal for people to question their sexual identity. This often begins in our early teens or even earlier and can take a long time to figure out. You can also question your sexual identity at any age, and this may change over time as well. That’s why there are many terms that imply questioning - such as heteroflexible, queer-questioning, bicurious, or gender-fluid. Questioning is the process of discovering your unique identity and can take as long as you need.
Whether you decide to tell others about your sexual identity is also a personal choice. You are under no obligation to “come out” to anyone, especially if it feels unsafe to do so. If you do want to come out, here is our blog post on “How to Come Out” for some practical tips on how to confirm your gender identity or sexuality for yourself, and others, if you choose.
If you are struggling with questioning your sexual identity, or just curious, check out our helpful resource below to find out which sexual orientation you may identify with most.
Types of sexuality
Allosexual is an umbrella term for individuals who feel sexual attraction towards others and a desire for partnered sex. So what is allosexuality? It is basically the opposite of an asexual, who are individuals who don’t experience sexual attraction, for the most part. Allosexuals may also identify with other sexual orientations like bisexual, straight, gay, queer, or more.
What is androsexual? An androsexual is an individual who has an attraction towards men or masculine genders, whether or not their crush was assigned male at birth.
Asexual is an umbrella term for a broad spectrum of sexual orientations. It generally refers to individuals who feel little or no sexual attraction to others. However, being on a spectrum, there are variations of sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction one may feel towards others.Some of these include:
Cupiosexual: An individual who does not experience sexual desire but still chooses to have a sexual relationship or engage in sex.
Libidoist asexual: An individual who identifies as asexual, yet still experiences levels of desire that they satisfy via self-pleasure.
Sex-averse: An individual who is not interested in sex or is averse to sexual activities.
Sex-favorable: An individual who enjoys some sexual activities in some situations with certain others.
Sex-indifferent: An individual who is neutral to sex and sexual activities.
Sex-repulsed: An individual who is turned off by any form of sexual activity and by sex itself.
An individual who has a romantic attraction towards asexual or “acespec” (short for ace spectrum or asexual spectrum) individuals.
Arosexual: when one’s sexual orientation is connected to their aromantic identity as well. Aceromantic (see below) is the counterpart of arosexual. They may find sexual labels not as useful in describing their overall romantic identity.
An individual who does not experience romantic attraction to anyone, regardless of gender orientation.
An individual who identifies as an aromantic asexual and who experiences attraction other than sexual or romantic, and identifies with the third type of orientation label, such as platonic or sensual.
Still confused? No problem. Asexuality is one of the most misunderstood sexual orientations, so check out our blog article on “What Does it Mean to be Asexual” to clear up some of the myths and misconceptions about it once and for all.
Bisexual refers to an individual who identifies as being sexually attracted to two or more genders, but not necessarily all. A person who identifies as bisexual can be of any gender.
What is the difference between bisexual and pansexual?
Pansexuality refers to individuals who may be attracted to all genders and is a broader term than bisexuality.
Bisexual vs pansexual? Either term is correct but depends on the individual. Some people may choose to use these terms interchangeably and may identify as both. For further information, see this blog article “What Does Pansexual Mean?” to shine the light on pansexuality, explore its definition, and find out how it compares to other sexualities.
An individual who may be interested in sexual or romantic explorations with two or more genders, but may be unsure of how they identify.
An individual who feels romantically attracted to more than one gender, but not necessarily sexually attracted to multiple genders.
A demisexual is an individual who only feels sexual attraction to someone with whom they have an emotional bond. Demisexuality falls under the asexual spectrum, as most demisexuals are not interested in, or seldom interested in, sexual activities.
Gay is the “G” part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym. It is an umbrella term for people who experience sexual or romantic attraction to individuals who are the same gender as they are. While traditionally it referred to “gay” men, it can be used interchangeably by any gender who identifies other than heterosexual.
A graysexual is an individual who experiences love and connection in nonsexual ways. They are part of the asexual spectrum and are sometimes referred to gray-A or gray-ace. They experience sexual attraction rarely, and often less than intense than other individuals.
Grayromantic: Similar to greysexual, a grayromantic does not experience romantic attraction strongly, or frequently.
These individuals are attracted towards femininity, or female-identified people, whether or not their crush was assigned female at birth.
Often referred to as “straight” people, these individuals are sexually attracted to people who are differently gendered than they are. In binary terms, this would refer to cis-gendered males’ or females’ sexual attraction to the “opposite” gender.
Homosexuality refers to those who are physically or emotionally attracted to people of the same gender, though it is considered an outdated term due to the negative connotations attached to it in the past.
A lesbian is the “L” part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym. It refers to an individual who identifies as female and is attracted to other women. This may also include some nonbinary people as well who identify as lesbians but not as male or female.
A pansexual is an individual who can be attracted to all genders and sexualities, including nonbinary people. While similar to bisexuals, and sometimes used interchangeably, it is a much broader term.
Panromantic is an individual who has a romantic attraction, but not sexual attraction, toward people of any gender or sex.
A panromantic asexual is the same as a panromantic. In that, they can be romantically attracted to any gender. However, because they are also asexual, they rarely feel sexual attraction. In other words, their attraction is romantically based, rather than sexual.
An umbrella term for all individuals who fall under the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. While it was once a derogatory word, it has since been reclaimed by the “queer” community as a celebration of not fitting the traditional social norms. When used by non-LGBTQIA+ individuals, it is considered an insult.
What is Questioning?
Questioning and Queer are often used interchangeably within the LGBTQIA+ acronym. "Questioning" refers to individuals who are in the process of discovering their gender identity and expression, as well as their sexual identity.
A sapiosexual is an individual who is attracted to someone on an intellectual level. Types of sapiosexual include scisexual or cognisexual, and according to the LGBTQIA Wiki, “may be considered a subset of mesi asexual, aliquasexual, demisexual, and apressexual”. It is also similar to encephalosexal, noetisexual, and imprisexual.
An individual who is sexually fluid is one who experiences their sexual identity as changing over time or due to certain circumstances. This means their sexual orientation is not fixed but flexible, and they may not identify with any specific sexual orientation at all.
How do I know if I’m gay?
There is no “test” you can take that will let you know if you are gay or any other sexuality for that matter. Sexual preference is a choice or a label that one may identify with if they feel it fits their gender and sexual expression.
You may be a male who is sexually, romantically or otherwise attracted to other men, but that doesn’t mean you identify as “gay”. As we have seen in this article, there are numerous ways that one may identify either sexually, romantically, emotionally, or even intellectually. Or not at all.
If you feel you need more guidance, we recommend this resource “I think I might be…” which will help you understand what it is like to be gay for some people. If you feel you need extra help or immediate support, please go to The Trevor Project, a site that provides information and support to LGBTQiA+ young people 24/7, all year round.
More Sexual FAQs
What is hypergamy?
According to Wikipedia, hypergamy is "marrying up", which is the practice of dating or marrying someone from a higher social-economic status than they are. It is most often practiced by women.
What is a throuple?
A throuple is a romantic or sexual relationship between three people.
What is a unicorn sexuality?
A unicorn is not a sexual preference. It is a person who wants to be the third party in a throuple or join an existing couple. This may be romantically, or for sex, and is popular in swinging communities. Unicorns are rare and hard to find, which is how the term got its name.
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