It’s not just gay or straight

Sexual orientations are more than just gay or straight.

The American Psychological Association (2012) explains that sexual orientations occur along a continuum:

“Categories of sexual orientation typically have included attraction to members of one’s own sex [gay men or lesbians], attraction to members of the other sex [heterosexuals], and attraction to members of both sexes [bisexuals]. While these categories continue to be widely used, research has suggested that sexual orientation does not always appear in such definable categories and instead occurs on a continuum.” (p.11)

There is growing recognition of the diversity in human sexuality. But research on the continuum of sexual orientations goes back many decades. As early as the 1940s, Dr. Alfred Kinsey helped to develop the Kinsey Scale for measuring sexual attraction and behavior along a continuum, with many people falling somewhere in between 100% gay and 100% straight (Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, 2014).

More recently, Dr. Fritz Klein developed the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, which takes into account the romantic and emotional elements in attraction, as well as the possibility for fluctuation in sexual orientation over the course of a lifetime (American Institute of Bisexuality, 2014).

Visit the Featured Content below to learn more about the Kinsey Scale and Klein Sexual Orientation Grid.

The bottom line: there is tremendous diversity in human sexuality. No two sexual orientations are exactly alike—just as no two fingerprints are alike. Attraction—physical, romantic, and emotional—is basic to the human condition. And so is the infinite variety in our sexual orientations.

Featured Content

Learn more about the Kinsey Scale from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University.

Kinsey Scale

Learn more about the Klein Grid from the American Institute of Bisexuality.

The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid

References:

American Psychological Association (2012). Guidelines for psychological practice with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/features/amp-a0024659.pdf

Kinsey Institute, Indiana University (2014). Kinsey Institute Homepage. Retrieved from https://www.kinseyinstitute.org/

American Institute of Bisexuality (2014). The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid. Retrieved from http://www.americaninstituteofbisexuality.org/thekleingrid/

Gender Identity Gender identity icon Our core sense of who we are as a man, a woman, a mixture of both, or neither.

Gender Expression Gender expression icon How we show up in the world through choices like clothing, hair style, mannerisms or tone of voice.

Attraction attraction icon How we feel toward others sexually, romantically and/or emotionally.

Biological Sex Biological sex icon Physical attributes such as reproductive organs and genitalia, chromosomes, genes and hormone levels.