Sex Talk

My son is sexually fluid. Does that mean he's gay?

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng answers your sex questions

22 April 2018 - 00:00
Many people, old and young, experience changes in who they’re attracted to and how they identify. This is called "sexual fluidity".
Many people, old and young, experience changes in who they’re attracted to and how they identify. This is called "sexual fluidity".
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Q: My son is talking about sexual fluidity. Please help me understand what he means.

A: Sexual orientation is about who you're attracted to and who you feel drawn to romantically, emotionally, and sexually. It's different than gender identity.

Gender identity isn't about who you're attracted to, but about who you are, that is, intersex, transgender, male, female. This means that being transgender (feeling like your assigned sex is very different from the gender you identify with) isn't the same thing as being gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Sexual orientation and identity can remain the same throughout one's life. Or it can vary depending on who you're attracted to, or romantically partnered or sexually active with. Many people, old and young, experience changes in who they're attracted to and how they identify. This is called "fluidity".

People who are attracted to people of the same gender often call themselves gay or homosexual. Gay women may prefer the term lesbian.

People who are attracted to both men and women often call themselves bisexual.

People who are attracted to a different gender (for example, women who are attracted to men or men who are attracted to women) often call themselves straight or heterosexual.

It isn't at all uncommon for your desires and attractions to shift throughout your life

People whose attractions span across different gender identities (male, female, transgender, genderqueer, intersex, etc.) may call themselves pansexual or queer. People may call themselves questioning or curious while uncertain.

People who don't experience any sexual attraction for anyone often call themselves asexual.

Some people don't think any of these labels describe them accurately. Some don't like the idea of labels at all. Other people feel comfortable with certain labels and not others. It's up to you to decide how to label yourself, if at all.

When talking to someone about their sexual orientation, use the terms they use, for some people, the word queer is still not acceptable.

It isn't at all uncommon for your desires and attractions to shift throughout your life.

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (MBChB), sexual and reproductive health practice, Disa Clinic, safersex.co.za

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