Following is an excerpt from an article printed by the American Society on Aging. The author, Terri Clark, has been a recurring guest on our Aged to Perfection podcast and a longtime educator on sexual issues and the aging.
By Terri Clark
We love our binaries: Democrat or Republican; male or female; chocolate or vanilla; gay or straight. For many of us, our first concept of sexual orientation was that everyone was either heterosexual or gay … some of us used the “h” word—homosexual. Those who were attracted to and had sex with people of the opposite sex were deemed heterosexual, or “straight.” Those attracted to people of the same sex were gay. For the Baby Boomer generation, it was assumed, and often still is, that you could tell a person’s sexual orientation by the apparent gender of their partner.
In the late 1960s and through the 1970s, the waters were muddied when people began to acknowledge bisexuality, defined as the ability to be attracted to and have sex with people across the gender spectrum. The popular belief was, and still is in many cases, that bisexuals were confused: either they were closeted gays or lesbians or curious straight people. Or bisexual individuals could not maintain monogamous relationships. Some believe that there is no such thing as a bisexual person.
Although such myths persist, many people are beginning to see bisexuality as akin to lesbian, gay and straight. More recently, we are hearing from people who identify as asexual—they are not sexually or romantically attracted to anyone. Attraction, feelings, identity and behaviors are complex parts of our humanness.