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Lesser Known Sexualities

A Higher Level of Inclusion

We all know the names of the more mainstream sexualities — gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual. But there are a few other sexual orientations which aren’t as well known, let alone recognized, by the socalled “mainstream LGBTQ” community. For example, if you were to describe yourself as being pansexual or asexual, even in the context of the LGBTQ community, you would face reactions ranging from confusion to ignorance or bigotry. For the sake of increasing inclusion in the LGBTQ community, it is worth discussing and acknowledging these lesser known sexual orientations. In doing so, we strengthen our community and foster a greater sense of solidarity.

Pansexuality is sometimes known as bisexuality, taken a step further. Where bisexuality inherently accepts the idea of gender binary, pansexuality does no such thing. Pansexuality inherently rejects the idea of an artificial, socially constructed gender binary. Those who are pansexual may be sexually attracted to those who identify as male, female, gender queer, or maybe even someone who doesn’t identify with any gender identity. Because of the similarities between bisexuality and pansexuality, there is often a lot of confusion and even derision in the LGBTQ community toward those who identify as pansexual.

Asexuality is also very divisive concept in the LGBTQ community. In fact, there is a lot of debate within the community about not only the definition of asexuality, but also whether or not it actually exists. The most commonly accepted definition of asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction, as well as a lack of interest in sex. Of course, there is a distinction to be made between asexuality and sexual abstinence or celibacy: With celibacy or abstinence, there is usually some amount of sexual attraction. With asexuality, this is not the case. It is important to separate sexual behavior (which can be motivated by many different factors) from sexual orientation (which is generally more stable and unchanging over time). There is a lot of heated discussion (both inside and outside of the LGBTQ community) about whether or not asexuality is a valid or “real” sexual orientation.

Pansexuality and asexuality are certainly not the only sexual orientations whose validities are up for debate. However, they are two sexual orientations that are gaining more recognition both within and outside of the LGBTQ community. And a greater level of inclusion inside the community brings a stronger and more unified community.

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Victoria Pinter is a graduate of Slippery Rock University. Victoria enjoys writing about politics, social justice, and public policy. Her work has appeared in the Des Moines Register, the Beaver County Times, and here.