5 Reasons Why The Terms 'Gay' And 'Straight' Aren't Culturally Right

by Kelly O'Hara

When reading this, I think a couple of my friends will be thinking, "I know your game, lady."

But, before we begin, I’d like to stress that I’m not trying to argue that everyone is gay so I can subsequently make out with more chicks. (But, Kat Dennings, if you’re reading this, I am.)

Sexuality is a curious thing. We might wrestle with our identities as teenagers, and eventually, after some painstaking internal deliberation, come to the conclusion that we’re gay or bi or straight, after all.

And, when you get through the drama of denial and acceptance, to finally come out (which we all know isn’t an easy feat and is, unfortunately, something you’ll probably have to do again and again for the rest of your life), we live in a time when it’s not even as simple as gay or bi or straight, after all.

More than five years after Katy Perry’s bubble gum pop anthem about kissing girls and liking it, it seems that the days when it was cool to be bisexual are long gone.

Sexual fluidity is a reality. This goes for girls and probably boys, too — something at which a certain painfully handsome pop star recently hinted. The debate about it continues and continues.

Sexual fluidity has practically reached pandemic levels. We’re gradually rethinking the ways we perceive sexuality in a society where such is no longer a taboo subject, as far as women are concerned, at least.

With that in mind, here’s why the terms "gay" and "straight" can no longer be used to rigidly define a person’s sexuality:

1. Some people are attracted to a person, not a gender.

This is extremely cheesy, I know, and has been the way in which "bisexuals" have tried to explain their sexual preferences to non-believers for centuries.

When we hear of someone being "attracted to the person," we translate it to "this person is bisexual" or this person is attracted to both men and women. But, I have a sneaking suspicion that in the real world, it’s not quite as transparent.

Exhibit A is a friend of mine who would call herself a "lesbian," but, wait for it… she still sleeps with men. Now, most lesbians would revoke this girl's gay card for that cardinal sin because we all know that as soon as you bang a guy, you’re no longer a member of the elite club of vagitarians.

Exhibit B is two "straight" girls with whom I went to college. Now, these two were absolutely inseparable from the moment they became friends. If you were organized a night out, they came as a pair — that’s just the way it was.

Many women have fiercely close relationships. It’s that friend with whom you do EVERYTHING.

This isn’t anything out of the ordinary, except the two women in Exhibit B fell in love. What you might not expect, however, is that these two only dated men previously and have only dated men since.

Now, I don’t think you can call these individuals gay or bi or straight. They demonstrate what it’s like to be "attracted to a person."

2. Sexual fluidity is on the rise.

If asked the question, most women would reveal that they would either like to sleep with another woman, or they already have. Here’s a quick tip: If you can’t figure out how to bring up this conversation, all you need is a little alcoholic lubrication and a game of Never Have I Ever.

Anyway, according to the most recent statistics, around 16 percent of women have had sexual encounters with a member of the same sex. But, back in 1990, this was true of only 4 percent of women, meaning that female sexual persuasion is becoming increasingly malleable, which is A-OK with me!

As a lesbian, if I'm asked this question, I must also say deviating from the fairer sex is something I cannot completely rule out. I am, indeed, what you would call a "gold-star lesbian," having only ever been with women.

But, to be honest, I can’t say penises completely gross me out. Sleeping with a guy is never something I’ve never had the urge to do, nor is it something I see happening in the near future. Nevertheless, I can’t say I’ll never sleep with a guy or even be in a relationship with a guy because you never know what will happen.

3. The Kinsey Scale exists.

Believe it or not, scientists realized long ago that the way in which we perceive sexual orientation doesn’t necessarily reflect our actions and desires.

When researching human sexuality, Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his team rated an individual’s sexuality on a scale of zero to six, with zero being exclusively heterosexual and six being exclusively homosexual.

Most participants landed in the one to five zone, thus proving the inconsistency between our perception and reality when it comes to homosexuality. When discussing the reason behind this fact, Kinsey noted:

It is a characteristic of the human mind that tries to dichotomize in its classification of phenomena… Sexual behavior is either normal or abnormal, socially acceptable or unacceptable, heterosexual or homosexual; and many persons do not want to believe that there are gradations in these matters from one to the other extreme.

There isn’t an actual test to determine where you fall on the scale. But, a few people have come up with tests available on the Internet.

4. The terms we use to discuss sexuality are changing.

Thankfully, there’s an array of terms we can use to help us to discuss the puzzling nature of sexuality in its many forms. Whether it’s as simple as "bi-curious" or as complicated as "pansexual," our lexicon is evolving to include a whole rainbow of people.

The heteronormative masses are just becoming familiar with the term pansexual. In case you were wondering, it means being attracted to someone regardless of the gender to which the person does or doesn’t identify. You can read more about it here.

5. We like to slap labels on things to make people more comfortable.

What Kinsey said back in the day still rings true: As a society, we prefer things to be neat and tidy, thus, forcing homosexuals out of the closet and into a shoebox.

Some people are still confounded by the idea of anything more than black and white, straight or gay.

I won't let guys off the hook when it comes to the question of whether it’s possible to be 100 percent straight or gay, no matter how uncomfortable it makes someone feel. It seems men don’t have the same freedom as women when it comes to discussing sexuality.

Most men wouldn’t be happy disclosing their curiosities for fear of being called a "mo" instead of a bro. Please do correct me if I’m wrong because I’d love nothing more than to hear about men brave enough to talk openly about their sexuality.

When researching "straight" men who sleep with men, I discovered a string of articles that discuss this outrageous phenomena as strange occurrences of narcissism, experimentation or something a guy would do if there were no hot girls around. Please! That’s just insulting.

Not all men are sex-craved beasts that would stick their wangs into anything that moves. Perhaps it’s time to consider the fact that guys might be attracted to other guys sometimes, just as girls might be attracted to other girls sometimes.

So, the terms "gay" and "straight" don’t apply like they used to when it comes to explaining the dichotomy of sexuality in its purest sense — the way people behave and feel.

Interestingly enough, however, "gay" and "straight" are useful for defining sexual identity. Some people use these terms in political senses and others, out of ease. Even Kinsey said his scale did not apply to sexual identity.

Consider this: If I started going around telling people I’m 89 percent lesbian, it just wouldn’t compute.

But, in reality, you shouldn’t have to explain your sexuality or sexual identity to anyone, whether you see yourself as gay or bi or straight or anything in-between.