I first really became aware of my sexual orientation and began to take notice of other people in that regard when I was in a teenager. Unfortunately around that time, I was also involved in a sexually abusive relationship. I was sexually abused the entire relationship (from age sixteen to nineteen). The sexual coercion took its toll on my mind and to this day, I have great anxiety about the topic of “sexual attraction” and what it exactly means.
When you ask a random person on the street, they’d likely be able to easily tell you who they are (or are not) sexually attracte to. While they might not be able to give you a professional or “formal” definition, they can describe what goes into the idea of “sexual attraction”. For me, this has always been a giant question mark.
Over the last almost decade of my life, I have hopped around from one sexual orientation term to the next, trying to find where I “fit in”. It is frustrating and upsetting. It does not help that the home I grew up in was very homophobic which resulted in some internalized homophobia for a good chunk of my life as well.
Being the logic oriented person I am, I attempted to look up a formal definition for “sexual attraction”. Every professional and/or academic website I went to had a different definition. Whenever I looked at the problem from a sexologist point of view, no one could agree on a definition there either (and those were the experts!). Google was no help in this regard either, stating “someone who you find sexually attractive”.
The Complete Dictionary of Sexology equates “sexual attraction” with “sex appeal”, to which it defines “sex appeal” as: having the capacity to arouse sexual interest and desire. This is an extremely broad statement. Extremely. By this definition, anyone who watches porn, ever, would suddenly have sexual attraction (which is not the case because of the asexual community).
Human sexuality is incredibly complex. Due to the trauma I suffered from as a teenager, I will likely never have a complete grasp of what exactly “sexual attraction” is to me, and thus, be “homeless” in regards to my identity when it comes to sexual attraction. The closest identity I can relate to is “not straight”.