According to the Human Rights Campaign, sexual orientation can be defined as “an inherent or immutable enduring romantic or sexual attraction to other people.” In the last decade, the seemingly black and white topic of sexuality and sexual orientation only acknowledged individuals that identify as either heterosexual or homosexual with little to no inclusion for those that identify as bisexual and beyond. However, with the turn of the 21st century, times have begun to change and the floor is opening up for more discussion on other types of sexual orientations including asexuality. “What is occurring in the lives of youth, regardless of their sexuality, is a minimization, if not elimination, of the necessity to label themselves with a culturally defined, simplistic sexual identity. Contemporary same-sex attracted teenagers are pursuing diverse pathways toward understanding and accepting their sexuality. Some are choosing unconventional sexual identities and others are forgoing a sexual identity altogether” (Williams)
“Despite evidence of increasing social acceptance for sexual minority individuals facilitating earlier and less distinctive identity development (e.g., Savin-Williams, 2005), sexual minority emerging adults continue to experience alarming levels of discrimination and victimization (e.g., Friedman et al., 2012). As such, sexual orientation and identity development during emerging adulthood, especially for those whose sexuality might diverge from normative models, may be both rife with opportunities for exploration and simultaneously constrained” (Torkelson, 2012). The problem seems to be that on the surface though society seems to be more accepting of sexually minority individuals there still seems to be an air of confusion and or prejudice against those that are comfortable enough to be public with their sexual preferences. Many people in this contemporary culture that we live in today seem to feel that by even mentioning a sexual orientation besides heterosexuality or an event like LGBT pride that others life choices are being shoved down their throats or forcing them to accept the fact that individuals exist outside of the “norm” and they are proud and happy to do so.
It is a huge step in the right direction to be able to openly discuss sexual orientation in a course like WMST 495 let alone find a plethora of scholarly research and basic resources like planned parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign that offers education to those that may need the information to educate themselves for their benefit or for those that are looking to become an ally to the LGBTQ community. Knowledge is power and even though there is still a long way to go the 21st century has ushered in a new day of acceptance and awareness for a group of individuals that have been long misunderstood.
For inspiration and tips, check out:
Sexual Orientation- The Controversy of The 21st Century
The Origins of Orientation: Sexuality in the 21st Century
Human Rights Campaign. “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Definitions.” Human Rights Campaign, https://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-terminology-and-definitions.
The Meaning of Sexual Identity in the Twenty-First Century. http://www.cambridgescholars.com/download/sample/61756.
Morgan, Elizabeth M. “Contemporary Issues in Sexual Orientation and Identity Development in Emerging Adulthood.” Emerging Adulthood, vol. 1, no. 1, Mar. 2013, pp. 52–66, doi:10.1177/2167696812469187.