24th-28th August 2020 saw us celebrate our first Pride Week at ANS. The week was full of Pride-inspired events, like roundtables, quizzes and raffles. We even invited the LGBT Foundation to talk to us about the amazing work they do to support LGBT people. As part of Pride Week, Technical Analyst Apprentice, Jess, wanted to share some thoughts and their own experience on Pride. They’ve written a series of blogs to educate us more on Pride. The first one is all about sexuality, take a look below.
Hi! And welcome to my short series of blogs for Pride 2020 where I break down the basics of everything LGBT+.
What do I mean by LGBT+? Well I mean the community of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or anything else not straight or cis.
Firstly, let me introduce myself.
My name is Jess, I use the pronouns they/them, I’m queer, non-binary, and I present in an androgynous way.
Now, that was a lot of terms that most people don’t even know the meaning of, if they’ve even heard them at all! In this blog I’m going to cover the “queer” part of my introduction, along with some other common sexualities.
Let’s face facts; people cannot choose who they are attracted to, it just comes naturally. Attraction can come in many forms, such as sexual, romantic, physical, emotional and more.
Some people might categorise their attractions by sexual and romantic identities, but it is important to recognise that these are different and separate from each other. For example, a female person may be bisexual and homoromantic, meaning they feel sexual attraction for female and male people, but only feel romantic attraction for female people.
You might hear a lot of different terms or “labels” that describe what types of attractions people feel, and this can get very confusing very quickly depending on how many labels people use, so I’ll try and cover some of the most frequently heard ones in this blog.
Most LGBT+ people have stories like mine, as it is a journey to find out who you really are as opposed to who you have been told to be in your life by others.
I first realised I wasn’t straight when one day I was just sat thinking about the people I’d known in my life. I used to justify my attractions by thinking “Well, I like boys, but I also think girls are really pretty… but everyone thinks that, right?”
Eventually I got over that denial by accepting that I was attracted to both men and women, so I started openly describing myself as bisexual when I was about 18. Realising that I was now part of the LGBT+ community, I started watching videos from LGBT+ creators on YouTube – I must have watched every “coming out” video there was! I was educating myself on what different terms meant, and learning all about sexuality, gender and community in the process.
This led to me discovering that I was attracted to people regardless of their gender – if they looked a little alternative, liked music, and we had a similar sense of humour – well, then I was attracted to them! At this point I started describing myself as pansexual – this was when I was about 20.
Around the age of 21 I started identifying with the word queer more and more, as this really leaves it open for conversation – plus, I loved the concept of reclaiming such a previously hateful word.
I am proud to be queer!
Straight – this is a word most often used for people who are sexually and romantically attracted to the opposite binary gender. For example, a male person who is sexually and romantically attracted to female people. People who use the label straight may also use heterosexual or heteroromantic as their label.
Gay – this is a word generally used for people who are sexually and romantically attracted to the same binary gender. For example, a male person who is sexually and romantically attracted to other male people. People who use the label gay may also use homosexual or homoromantic as their identity. Female people who are gay sometimes use the term lesbian instead.
It doesn’t end there with the label gay though. Some people may use it as an umbrella term to mean “not straight”, and this could include many other identities and attractions that may not line up entirely with homosexual or homoromantic.
Queer – this is a word that is used widely to describe anything other than straight, when the person doesn’t identify with the label gay.
Ace – short for asexual. An ace person feels little to no sexual attraction for anyone. A related term is aromantic.
Bi – short for bisexual, this often manifests as the attraction to both binary genders (female and male). A related term is biromantic.
Demi – short for demisexual, this is the sexual attraction to people only after a strong emotional bond has been formed. A related term is demiromantic.
Pan – short for pansexual, this is the sexual attraction to people regardless of gender. Some pan people are attracted to personalities, others are attracted to physical traits such as eye colour. A related term is panromantic.
Poly – short for polyamorous, is the desire for relationships to multiple people at a time or groups – while this isn’t a sexuality, it is a relationship structure, and a word people can identify with and celebrate as they would a sexuality.
Here are some examples of more specific sexualities!
Skoliosexual / Ceterosexual / Enbysexual – this is the sexual attraction to non-binary, genderfluid, or genderqueer people. This is a great example of one identity with multiple labels!
Androsexual – this is the sexual attraction to masculinity, masculine-presenting people, or male physical characteristics.
Gynesexual – the opposite of androsexual, this is the sexual attraction to femininity, feminine-presenting people, or female physical characteristics.
As people discover more and more about themselves, new labels are created that describe very specifically someone’s attractions. If a person is comfortable to tell you how they identify, but you don’t know what it means, just politely ask! Most will be happy to explain what the term means.
To my colleagues: if you find yourself hearing a term and don’t understand it, I’m here to help! I’m happy to explain things for you!
Please stay tuned for my next blog post, “LGBT+ 101: What is Gender?” where I cover pronouns, coming out, and terms such as cis, trans and non-binary, amongst others.
Thoughts and opinions by Jess Outhwaite
For ANS, diversity and inclusion means providing equal opportunities for all, regardless of gender orientation or expression, race, age, sexual orientation, cultural and economic background, physical ability or neural diversity. Everyone at ANS has the ability to progress throughout the business, and we are very proud of the level of comfort our employees feel about being able to bring their true selves to work.