Romantic Orientation and Queerness
Today I wanted to write something I haven’t written about much at all — romantic orientation. Romantic orientation is who a person is romantically attracted to, and the degree to which they experience romantic attraction. Some common romantic orientations include: homoromantic (romantic attraction to the same/similar gender(s), biromantic (romantic attraction to more than one gender), panromantic (romantic attraction to people regardless of gender), and aromantic (experiencing little to no romantic attraction). These are just a few examples and there are many more. Just as everybody had a sexual orientation, everybody also has a romantic orientation , however, the breaking down of certain attractions, such as sexual and romantic is often more likely seen in the asexual and aromantic communities, and those with “split” orientations. The split attraction model (SAM) is a model used by many ace and/or aro people (though not exclusively), to indicate that they are romantically attracted to certain individuals but not sexually, and vice versa. The SAM is an accessible tool that can be used by anyone, and is extremely useful for helping to break down one’s attractions (or lack thereof).
The SAM also has a history within the bisexual community, with the earliest version of such dating back to 1879, created by German writer Karl Ulrichs, who studies different types of bisexuality and published a series of books on human sexuality and orientation. Sometimes, romantic orientation and sexual orientation match up, such as being panromantic and pansexual. In this circumstance, the person would likely just identify as pansexual to cover all bases, but it is possible to be pansexual and biromantic, for example, or aromantic and homosexual. Some people are also on the asexual and/or aromantic spectrums, diversifying romantic and sexual orientation even more. This may mean that they experience minimal amounts of sexual and/or romantic attraction, , or only under specific circumstances, and desire to identify it as it feels relevant and important to them.
As for my own romantic orientation… it’s a little complex. I have a very complicated relationship with with romance and romantic attraction. For a long time, I thought I was heteromantic (romantic attraction the the opposite gender), but this was around five or six years ago and before I discovered that I was non-binary. My “attraction” to men turned out to be some sort of gender envy, with some aesthetic and platonic attraction also. I have only been romantically attracted to one person in my life, and that is my current girlfriend. I have also only been sexually attracted to one person — also my girlfriend, meaning that I am both demiromantic and demisexual (attraction only after an emotional bond has been formed, or under very specific circumstances). For ease however, I tend to just say that I’m demisexual or “demi”. Because I am non-binary, labels such as “gay”, “lesbian” and “homoromantic” feel a bit too binary, so I tend to stick with “queer”, however, that said, there are non-binary lesbians and non-binary gay men, because of how complicated gender identity and sexuality are (I will most likely write something on this also at some other time). Do I feel that “lesbian” fits with my attraction to my girlfriend? Sometimes. I feel a very loose, vague “connection” to my assigned sex — that is, I don’t experience any gender dysphoria, though I do have body image issues, and I am not particularly bothered to correct strangers when they assume I’m a woman and use she/her pronouns for me (I use they/them in most queer spaces). I don’t “identify” as a woman. I’m not really sure what it feels like to “be a woman”, but I am equally not overly distressed if someone refers to me as one. It’s slightly annoying, but it isn’t the end of the world. Do I claim my attraction to my girlfriend to be gay despite not identifying as a woman? Yes, absolutely, and in a way I can’t really explain. I know I just explained above how binary terminology feels exclusive of me as a non-binary person, but honestly, sometimes it’s just so much easier to say “I’m gay”, and I do relate a lot to the lesbian experience, despite being aspec and non-binary.
Unfortunately, aromantic (spectrum) and and asexual (spectrum) people are often left out of LGBTQ+ spaces and discussions. We’re not seen as “queer enough” because we’re not alloromantic/sexual (a term meaning not on the asexual/aromantic spectrum), or, if we are accepted, we are “watered down” queers. Queerness is not just about sex. It can be about sex, and I personally love queer sex liberation. Queerness is also about softness; gentle feelings. It’s about gender identify and expression; it’s about radical self-acceptance and self-love. Queerness can mean a multitude of things, and I think that’s what I love about it. Being queer means different things for different people, and that is not a weakness, that is a strength. Gatekeepers and exclusionists (those who believe that certain individuals don’t belong in the LGBTQ+ community, despite being commonly accepted as such elsewhere), often find the fluidity and openness of queer identity to be challenging, and even “daunting”, but that is simply because it does not fit with their rigid, binary views of what sexuality and gender is ( even those within the LGBTQ+ community can perpetuate harmful, colonialist rhetoric.
I am not just queer because of who I am attracted to. I am not just queer because of my non-binary identity. I am queer because of all of these factors at once — my “gayness”, my non-binary gender, the way my attraction is felt; all of it. I am a gloopy, magical gay soup (don’t ask). I cannot be pinned down by heteronormativity, cisnormativity, nor by amatonormativity. I transcend these binaries and expectations. My existence overcomes them.