I offer the following not to tell you what your identities and orientations are but rather to offer my process as an example of how to decide for yourself how you wish to identify. My only message is to think beyond the binary as well as within the binary or to put it another way think beyond black and white to also include all the colors of the color wheel.
In a way, I am glad I waited until the range/spectrum/bubbles of various gender identity options entered into wider acceptance, particularly among millennials and generation Z. I am from a much older demographic at 61 but was open to any narrative, description or summary that described who I was. In my case I came to realize that I was basically agender – not identifying as either male or female although lately I prefer just non-binary as it doesn’t preclude adding some occasional gender fluidity into the mix. What I had to sort out was gender identity and what was gender expression. I realized that being agender/Non-binary left me free to create my own style. I now have all the fashion of the world, or at least my part of it, to choose from. So I mix and match and just have fun creating a look.
My sexual orientation went from gay to gay/queer and then, once I understood gender complexities, I realised I was polysexual, (attracted to more than one gender but not all), which, for me, is now more accurately called , polyromantic. I’m attracted to non-binary individuals and trans and cis men.
The reason I said polyromantic is that I have virtually no sex drive thanks to an aging side effect I am actually glad for, very low testosterone. I don’t feel the whole asexual, graysexual thing has really accepted people who develop a vastly diminished sex drive later in life as asexual or graysexual (somewhere between no interest in sex and regular gay, bi or heterosexual orientation. I think it is completely logical for individuals to experience sexual desire for some of their lives and none or very little for the rest of their lives. Right now I have some sex drive once every two months or so so I rarely have any sexual desire. However I frequently desire to connect with someone just interested romance. I still love romance, holding hands, cuddling, flowers, etc.
I obviously did a lot of introspection, and perhaps self analysis, to figure this all out but it was worth it. I now have a better understanding of myself. I have long realised that people have a more difficult time when options are not binary. Before retiring early due to disabilities, I was the HIV/STD Education Coordinator for our state health department’s infectious disease bureau. Before that I worked doing similar work and some case management for People With HIV/AIDS during the late eighties. All that experience showed that people, including trained health professionals, don’t like gray areas. For example, for over a decade the debate raged about the relative risk of oral/penile sex. What was always clear is that it was less risky, indeed much less risky then anal intercourse without a condom. We used an approach called client entered counselling which consisted of a counsellor broviding basic facts about relative risk and working with the client to integrate their drives and desires with their newly acquired knowledge about risk. This would mean, for example, the client choosing to not have anal sex but have condomless oral sex. Many trainees struggled with the notion that a client would choose any risk. This was out of proportion to various risks they assumed in their own lives. Another illustration of people’s discomfort with non-binary choices Is sexual orientation. You find people less accepting of bisexuality/pansexuality/poly sexuality then either gay or straight and this prejudice comes not just straight individuals but also gay men who think many/most bisexual men are just guys who will eventually come out as gay.
All that experience had prepared me for the process of educating people about non-binary gender identities, various forms of gender expression and what we could call non-binary sexual orientations. The truth is that some of us have found that non-binary identities and orientations resolve a lifelong struggle to figure things out. For some teens and twenty somethings “lifelong” is a few years for others, like me, it was decades.
In science color can be defined either by its wavelength as physics does or can be a biological description of how the human eye perceives color. Clearly we don’t perceive just black or white but many colors. Look at this graphic. White is at the very center and black on the edges of the color “wheel.” I could go into the difference between colors we perceive and color as wavelengths of light in physics but this article from Encyclopedia Britannica does an excellent job explaining the difference. My point is that it would be a very boring world if only saw black and white. How much better it is to have all of the color options to see, Enjoy, experience and share through art. So it is with gender identities, gender expression and sexual orientations. The fact that people are discovering that they are neither male or female nor gay or straight but a variety of other options should be celebrated. I love that there are more ideas and more knowledge about gender and sexuality diversity. This shows that people are realizing that that the color of truth is not black or white but encompasses all the colors between and including black and white. Welcome to the wonderful world of color!