Sexually Fluid – Labels such as bi, gay, straight, trans, asexual, pansexual, agender etc. serve a purpose, and this is why they are super important for some people. A person may identify with one or multiple of those labels and in this way have a sense of self and of belonging, meet other people and socialize, as well as advocate about their truths and rights. That’s perfectly okay.
Other people may feel constrained by labels and may feel that they do not wish to belong in a certain category, and to define their gender or sexuality strictly. That’s perfectly okay too.
All we need is to understand that we are different, and to respect the ways in which other people understand, define and communicate their experiences. What we feel is valid.
Now, there are many people who start off identifying with one label – whether that has to do with sexuality or with gender – but their identification and the way they feel change with time.
- Sexuality and gender identity may change through the course of a person’s lifetime, and all the stages we go through are valid.
It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t only attracted to boys, and then I found out there exist more than two genders. I identified as straight until high school when I thought I was maybe heteroflexible, then started strongly identifying with bisexuality. I have gone through several periods in my life during which I was primarily attracted to women or to men, and periods during which gender didn’t matter. Today I identify as a pan-sexual.
Okay, enough with the bad pan-puns.
What’s more, until the beginning of the year I was totally okay with calling myself a girl. I am not anymore. Gender has started becoming a very complicated concept for me, and it took a lot of support from my loved ones and pushing against the guilt of my internalized doubting of fluidity to accept that I am non-binary.
Like mentioned above, some people don’t even wish to use those labels – that’s okay.
All of us can possibly feel that our sexuality or gender identity changes through the course of our life. That’s totally okay and normal – people go through countless stages in their lifetime, we change, we develop, we go back and forth, we make circles, we evolve. What works for me today may not work for me tomorrow, whether I put a label on it or not – it doesn’t matter.
As we live we gain experiences, we acquire new knowledge, we meet new people and we deal with events that are completely random and based on luck, fate, call them how you wish. It’s only normal that we change as people and that our identities and desires change as well.
There are also many people who feel like their identity stays the same throughout their lives. For example, a woman may identify as a lesbian all along. That’s absolutely normal, absolutely fine, but it doesn’t negate the normality and the truth of fluid identities.
- A person whose sexuality or gender identity is fluid is not confused.
First of all, let’s establish that it’s okay to be confused. When we are questioning our gender or sexuality or when we are going through any kind of change in our lives, confusion is as humanly and normal as breathing.
However, people who are sexually fluid or genderfluid are not necessarily confused. They might have invested a lot of time and thought into figuring out how they feel and how they experience things, and if that view towards something changes, it might be a completely aware and conscious turn.
If my favorite city in the world is Paris, but then I visit Dublin and fall in love with it as well, it doesn’t mean that I am confused about my preferences. Just because a person likes – or identifies as – something for a certain period of their lives, when certain conditions apply which are prone to change, it doesn’t mean that they will be and feel like that forever.
People’s identities and ways to view the world change and we may need to redefine other parts about ourselves accordingly.
- A person whose sexuality or gender identity changes is neither lying nor faking it.
People’s sexuality may change because they may overcome certain stereotypes they’ve grown up with, meet new people, form and maintain relationships with other people whose identities change, realize they are attracted to more than one genders, find a broader or narrower more fitting way to describe it, or many other factors.
When a friend whom we’ve known as lesbian comes out to us as bi, she isn’t just “faking it” to enjoy straight privilege. When a friend who hasn’t expressed discomfort with their assigned gender until now, comes out to us as trans, they aren’t lying to “attract attention”.
When someone discloses to us something personal and important about themselves, we must listen to them. It’s not up to us to decide how another person feels or how they should identify. If we call someone who trusts us a liar for being who they are, then we need to back up and realize we are doing something wrong.
It’s wrong to apply pressure on sexually fluid or genderfluid people to “pick a side”/“choose a label” or to invalidate their feelings and experiences just because we think they are confused. Just because a person experiences something differently than we do, and for that reason we may not be able to relate with that experience, it doesn’t give us the right to invalidate it.
- Not all sexually fluid people are bi/pan and/or poly.
Many sexually fluid people are bisexual/pansexual and vice versa, but that doesn’t mean that all are. Many bi/pan people may identify like that for their entire life, while many sexually fluid people may not feel like they are either bisexual or pansexual.
Also, being sexually fluid doesn’t mean one wants to sleep with everyone who has ever walked on this planet, or that they are necessarily polygamous. Sexually fluid people may be polyamorous or polygamous, but that’s not a generalization we should make for all sexually fluid people.
- Sometimes our conceptions of things change because society changes.
A reason for which sexuality and gender labels shouldn’t be perceived as concrete, strict, or limiting, is that our very conceptions of gender, attraction, commitment, masculinities and femininities vary between different times, social concepts and cultural backgrounds.
We are often told that there is a certain default for maleness and masculinity, and another default for femaleness and femininity. Growing up in a society that deems these defaults as primary is messy and wrong – because these defaults are constructed based on racist, ableist, cisnormative and heteronormative standards. This is why the “no fats no fems no Asians” discriminatory dating tactic is still big within the gay dating community, this is why the LGB community keeps having conversations about whether being gay or straight means that you are also attracted to trans people.
These are very problematic things that are derived from the very systems that oppress LGBT people, and they are often the root of discrimination against and a lack of understanding for fluid identities.
But there is no default man or woman, there is no ideal non-binary person, there shouldn’t be certain models based on which we form our conception of gender, identity and attraction.
Models, like stereotypes, are constructed. So are labels. So, for labels to be liberating and empowering for us instead of constricting, we need to become more open to the idea of fluidity.
Society changes, our ideas towards society and its members change, so it’s also normal to accept the change within ourselves.
Sexual and gender fluidity are still widely frowned upon both within and out of the LGBT community, and there is a lot of gatekeeping that can only harm our sense of solidarity and inclusion.
It’s important to be open to sexual fluidity and gender fluidity, even though we may not personally relate to those identities and experiences, and validate the feelings and experiences of our other queer friends and siblings.