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6.4: Sexual Fluidity

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    Sexual fluidity is a term that encompasses the many different ways that people experience desire. Contrary to the stereotypes associated with sexual orientation, bisexuality does in fact exist! In fact, there are many ways in which people express their sexual orientations (for a more detailed list, refer to the section entitled Different Types of Sexuality). Attention was drawn to the term “sexual fluidity” in 2008 by Lisa Diamond in a book titled, Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire. In the book, Diamond describes the idea of bisexuality, and that it does not completely identify the nature of many people’s sexual identity. Sexual fluidity,  one or more changes in a person’s sexuality or sexual identity, describes the idea that an individual’s sexual orientation can be ‘fluid,’ or something that can change over time. Prior to the idea of sexual fluidity, it was believed that our sexuality is fixed at birth, and incidents of people pursuing emotional or sexual relationships with genders other than their typical preference was considered ‘experimenting.’ In truth, human beings may develop relationships with individuals of different gender identifications through their lifetime, and people are not “tied” to one sexual orientation throughout the entirety of their life.

    According to a study that looks at sexuality throughout the United States by the UCLA School of Law, the percentage of people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual is 3.5%, which translates to roughly 9 million people throughout the country (LGBT Demographic Data Interactive, 2019). It can also be argued that if there were no social stigma attached to not being heterosexual, a lot more people would openly admit to a wider variety of sexualities. In the same study, it was found that women were significantly more likely to identify as bisexual as compared to men. As an example of sexual fluidity, a pansexual identifying person, or a person who is attracted to someone regardless of their gender identity, might pursue a relationship with a male or female identifying person, whereas someone who is sexually fluid might be seek female identifying people one day, but seek male identifying people another day.

    A permanent, non-altering sexual orientation, whether it be heterosexuality, homosexuality, pansexuality or bisexuality is how some people live out their lifetimes, but it does not accurately define everyone, which is why the concept of sexual fluidity is important to add into a discussion of sexual orientation. It allows people to redefine their sexuality(ies) throughout their lives.

    Sidebar 6.1: Oh, that's what I am!

    I’ve always said, I like who I like. Sometimes I liked them romantically, sometimes I liked them physically, and sometimes I felt deep love for them. It was never exactly the same type of like I had for each of them, they were all different. For those of you lucky enough to be coming into your sexuality in the present era, there is a lot of room for discovery and flexibility. In my day, you were either hetero or gay and nothing else-super binary. It didn’t make sense and it left me confused. The first time I heard the term pansexual I was blown away. That’s a thing? Yes! That’s me! I just like who I like, regardless of their label.

    "Gay couple holding hands on the beach" by San Diego Shooter is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    This page titled 6.4: Sexual Fluidity is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Susan Rahman with Nathan Bowman, Dahmitra Jackson, Anna Lushtak, Remi Newman, & Prateek Sunder.