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What exactly is queerness? A Comprehensive Guide

Only very recently has the LGBTQIA+ community been categorized and recognized by the general population in ways that are at least closer to appreciating its full complexity and beauty.

In days of old, the far-too-simple acronym "LGBT" was used to refer to the community of queer people throughout the world. Before that, only gay men and lesbian women were recognized. And before that, no form of queerness was even acknowledged or accepted in wide use.

Luckily, in the age of the internet, the acknowledgement of bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, and asexual individuals - as well as many more - has started to surge into the mainstream.

But there is still work to be done.

This article will serve as a general guide for what we know about queerness as of now, with the understanding that we are always learning more.

Resources about queerness on this page:

Exploring Different Types of Sexuality in Queerness

Other Types of Attraction in Queerness

Gender in Queerness: What does it mean?

LGBTQIA+ Therapy in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

Note: While the word "queer" has a history and reputation as an insidious and violent slur, it has in recent years been reclaimed by the LGBTQIA+ community. We use the word in this article as of its positive, affirming, contemporary usage.

Exploring Different Types of Sexuality in Queerness

Queerness, when admittedly oversimplified for instructional purposes, can be divided into two subsections: sexuality and gender. No type of one is mutually exclusive with the other, so let's just start with sexuality.

Understanding the various types of sexuality is crucial to comprehending our own desires and relationships.

Sexual Attraction in the Queer Community

Sexual attraction is the desire to be sexually intimate with other people, and it can vary greatly among individuals, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or other sexual orientations.

Understanding one's sexual attraction can help reduce stigma and discrimination towards those with different sexual orientations and promote a greater comprehension of the psychological and biological factors that play a role in sexual attraction.

Recognizing and respecting the diversity of sexual attraction can lead to more inclusive and accepting relationships and communities.

In the LGBTQIA+ community, there are millions of types of sexual attraction. Out of respect for your time, we'll just focus on some of the more common ones:

  • Gay - "Gay" means that you are attracted to the same gender as the one you identify with. While commonly used colloquially to solely describe a man who is attracted to another man, "gay" can also be a synonym for "lesbian."
  • Lesbian - "Lesbian" refers specifically to a woman who is attracted to other women. Linguistical purists will tell you that this term is redundant, but it can actually be very important to make respectful distinctions that affirm someone's identity. Using the term "lesbian" affirms women by giving them their own unique word for their queerness.
  • Bisexual - "Bisexual" means you are attracted to those who identify as either a man or a woman. There is some contention that this term is outdated, since it implies the gender binary that once described gender identity. However, it is still valid since "man" and "woman" are considered two of the many genders that exist.
  • Pansexual - This term refers to someone who is attracted to all genders.
  • Asexual - Someone who is asexual is not sexually attracted to any gender. Note that asexual people can still be romantically and emotionally attracted to others, as described below.

Other Types of Attraction in Queerness

Sexual attraction only describes one third of the human attraction landscape. Romantic and emotional attractions can exist totally separate from sexual attraction.

Romantic Attraction

Romantic attraction is all about wanting to form a close, romantic bond with someone else. It can involve being in a relationship, or even just wanting to become closer with another person. Understanding romantic attraction is crucial in developing interpersonal chemistry and relationships, fostering greater physical intimacy, connection, and emotional support.

It's important to recognize that romantic attraction may not always align with one's sexual attraction, leading to various types of relationships. By exploring and acknowledging the complexities of romantic attraction, we can create more fulfilling and diverse relationships.

Emotional Attraction

Emotional attraction is the desire to form a strong emotional connection with someone, going beyond physical attraction. It's based on their personality and other inner characteristics, and it plays a vital role in maintaining long-lasting relationships.

A 2018 study showed that being emotionally available is more important than being sexually accessible, and couples who lack this emotional attraction are more likely to break up. Understanding and nurturing emotional attraction in relationships can lead to deeper connections and greater satisfaction.

Gender in Queerness: What does it mean?

Transgender and non-binary identities encompass a broad spectrum of gender experiences and expressions that go beyond the traditional binary understanding of male and female.

Recognizing and respecting these identities is essential for promoting inclusivity and reducing discrimination and stigma against transgender and non-binary individuals.

A small sliver of the gender spectrum is referred to as the "gender binary", that is, men and women.

But did you know that there are a virtually limitless number of genders besides? While humans are typically assigned one of the genders in the binary at birth, these do not always describe someone's true identity.

In the following subsections, we'll discuss understanding transgender identities, non-binary identities, transitioning, and affirming one's gender.

Understanding Transgender Identities

Transgender identities refer to individuals whose gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. Understanding transgender identities is essential for promoting inclusivity, respect, and reducing discrimination and stigma against transgender individuals.

By educating oneself about transgender experiences and supporting the rights and well-being of transgender individuals, we can create a more inclusive and understanding society for all.

Non-Binary Identities

Non-binary identities describe people who don't identify as completely a girl/woman or boy/man, but instead have their own gender identity. These identities can include genderfluid, genderqueer, and more.

Understanding non-binary identities is essential for challenging the binary gender system and fostering acceptance for all gender identities. By recognizing and respecting the diversity of non-binary identities, we can create a safer and more inclusive environment for everyone to express themselves authentically.

Transitioning/Affirming One's Gender

Transitioning and affirming one's gender is the process of taking social, legal, and/or medical steps to align one's life and physical appearance with their gender identity or gender expression.

This can include changing one's name, pronouns, and/or clothing, and/or going through medical procedures like hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgery.

Acknowledging that not transitioning is a valid choice for those who identify with a gender(or genders) other than the one they were assigned at birth is essential. All paths should be respected and accepted.

Transitioning and affirming one's gender can be crucial for feeling comfortable and confident in oneself, and by understanding the various aspects of transitioning, we can better support those who undergo this process.

LGBTQIA+ Therapy in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

While the primary topic of discussion in the modern information sphere is about the social, legal, and medical affirmations that are certainly necessary for those who do not identify as their birth-assigned gender, the mental health aspect of affirmation is often lost by the wayside.

For those who do not identify as their birth-assigned gender, affirmation or transitioning can be an extremely stressful process.

Because of societal stigma, judgment from loved ones, or ingrained struggles with self-perception associated with trauma, queer mental health needs more support than most other groups.

We at Williamsburg Therapy Group are proud to provide LGBTQIA+ talk therapy from our beautiful therapeutic space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If you would like to speak with a professional about sexuality, gender, and identity, please give us a call, and our patient coordinator will match you with the right therapist.

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