sexual orientationLast updated
Sexual orientation indicates who a person is sexually and/or romantically attracted to. Language-wise, the shift from “preference” to “orientation” signals the understanding of a person’s sexual orientation as innate rather than a choice or preference. There are dozens of terms to describe sexual orientation, including the four in most common usage: gay, lesbian, bisexual, and pansexual. (The term homosexual, while once common, is now viewed as outdated. Consider its historical definition as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.)
Asexual is an umbrella term describing those who don’t feel physical attraction to any gender. Asexuality exists on a spectrum, and asexual people (also known as “ace” or “aces”) differ in how they identify within asexuality. Asexual people can still feel romantic and/or platonic attratcion and connection, and there is no universal definition or rule for asexual attraction or relationships.
While it’s important to be aware of the breadth of sexual orientation terms and discuss them when appropriate, it’s not necessary to account for all of them in every article or discussion about sexuality.
- What Are the Different Types of Sexuality? 46 LGBTQIA+ Terms to Know (Healthline)
- List Of Sexual Orientation Types, Definitions (Refinery29)
Sexual orientation indicates who a person is sexually and/or romantically attracted to. It is not the same as gender (someone’s deepest understanding of their gender identity) or gender expression (outward signifiers of a person’s gender such as clothing or hairstyle). The shift from “preference” to “orientation” signals the understanding of a person’s sexual orientation as innate rather than a choice or inclination.