Sexual orientation is the pattern of sexual and emotional attraction based on the gender of one’s partner. Heterosexuality refers to the emotional and sexual attraction between men and women. In the contemporary American culture, heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation to receive complete social and legal legitimacy. Though heterosexuality is viewed as the “norm” in the United States, many other cultures maintain a very diverse perspective on sexuality and sexual orientation. Various types of sexual orientation are defined below, and can be found in many different cultures across the globe.
- Homosexuality: Being emotionally and sexually attracted to those of the same sex. “Lesbian” is used to refer to a woman being attracted to other women; “Gay” is used to refer to a man being attracted to other men.
- Bisexuality: Being both emotionally and sexually attracted to both males and females.
- Pansexuality: The potential for attraction to people, regardless of their biological sex or gender. This includes a possibility for attraction to those who fall outside the gender binary of male/female.
- Asexual: One without sex-linked features, lacking any apparent sex or sex organs or one that does not experience or represses any sexual attraction.
- Transgender: Not a sexual orientation, but the state of one’s own gender identity not matching their assigned sex. Transgender people may identify as any sexual orientation listed above.