At last, I’m very happy to publish this blog which I wrote for TINO. I consider it one of the more important posts I’ve ever written, because these ideas can break down much of the fear and discomfort around homosexuality while promoting greater understanding and acceptance of differing sexual orientations. Please read and consider sharing!
Did you know that sexual orientation doesn’t fall neatly into the categories of “gay” or “straight”? Sexual orientation (that is, the gender that a person is attracted to) is often conveniently thought of in binary: you’re either one or the other. You either like boys or you like girls, and depending on which one you like, it means you’re either heterosexual or homosexual. In actuality, there are many different ways that you can classify sexual attraction: there’s bisexuality, pansexuality and asexuality just to name a few. But for the purposes of this blog post, I want to talk about the two most common forms of sexual orientation: heterosexuality and homosexuality. And for simplicity’s sake, I’m also going to make the generalisation that people either identify as male or female (although in reality there are a large number of people who identify as neither).
Alfred Kinsey is widely considered the grandfather of modern sexology. He had some pretty radical ideas which are well summarised in the excellent film Kinsey (2004), starring Liam Neeson. For me, the most valuable idea that Kinsey put forward was the idea that human beings are not exclusively homosexual or heterosexual. That is to say, he rejected the idea that you are one or the other. Instead he proposed that there is a scale, ranging from 0 (Entirely heterosexual) to 6 (entirely homosexual), and that most people are somewhere in the middle.
So what does that all mean? Let me break it down a little further.
Someone who identifies as 0 on the Scale would have no sexual interest or attraction in members of the same sex, none whatsoever. They are exclusively attracted to members of the opposite sex.
Someone who identifies as 1 on the Scale would have “incidental attraction”, meaning they might be surprised to discover they find a member of the same sex to be cute, or they might not immediately look away if homosexual porn popped up while they were browsing. Maybe being gay isn’t really their thing, but they’re kind of curious about it.
A person who identifies as a 2 on the Kinsey Scale would be mostly straight, but also intentionally pursue experiences with members of the same sex as well. If they hadn’t already had direct sexual experiences or relationships with members of the same sex, they probably wouldn’t mind trying it.
3 on the Kinsey scale is perfectly in the middle, where attraction to males and females is about equal.
Someone who identifies as a 4 would be mainly gay, but have experiences of heterosexuality as well. Maybe they don’t mind members of the opposite sex, but they prefer members of the same sex.
People who considers themselves a 5 on the Scale would be mostly homosexual with the occasional interest in members of the opposite sex. They might be curious, or have tried relationships, but they’re really just not into it.
Someone who identifies as 6 on the Scale is exclusively homosexual, only interested in/attracted to members of the same sex.
Holy shit right? That explains why sometimes you find yourself attracted to members of the same sex. That explains why sometimes you don’t mind watching lesbian or gay porn. I don’t know about you guys, but I spent a lot of my teenaged years questioning whether I might be gay just because I felt an attraction to other boys. Kinsey’s Scale helped me to understand that it’s perfectly normal to be “somewhere in the middle”.
What’s more is that Kinsey wrote on the idea of sexual fluidity. That is to say, once we identify as a particular number on the scale, we don’t have to stick to it. I might be a 2 right now, but who’s to say that next year I might not be a 4? Sexual identities are fluid and can change over time. Just as we change and grow and mature as people, who and what we like can change too.
So what do you guys think? Where do you sit on the Scale? Have you always been there? Let me know in the comments down below, and talk to someone else about it! Topics like these aren’t often talked about in our society, but I think we can all agree that for most of us, sexuality is a fundamental part of who we are. Spread the word! Start having more conversations about the Kinsey scale and educate other people as well. For more information about sexuality and gender, I recommend hitting up websites like ReachOut, watching videos by esteemed youtubers such as Ashley Mardell and Laci Green , and checking out books on sexuality in your local library/book store.
Stay awesome everyone!