I recently agreed to do a live webinar on LGBTQ health and challenges for a global network of psychotherapists for an Employee Assistance Program in Raleigh, NC. During my preparation and research phase, I reflected on how sexuality and gender are so much more fluid than most people are aware of. In my involvement in the LGBTQ community, in my practice over the years as a queer therapist, and within myself, I am able to observe how broad and diverse human sexuality is. Fluidity of human sexuality expands beyond sexual orientation and gender preferences to various means of engaging in sex and expressing oneself sexually. The concept of fluidity can also apply to polyamory and non-monogamous relationships. Sexual and romantic relationships can involve one, two or more people and dynamics can change over time.
As a sexual orientation, we often see the term “fluid” underneath the umbrella of bi+ identities. Since fluid has no fixed shape, we can conceptualize being sexually fluid as an orientation as one where a person’s sexual or romantic preferences toward various genders can fluctuate across a person’s lifespan. Also, we can consider fluidity as how one’s romantic attraction toward one gender can be different than that person’s sexual or physical attraction to that same gender, and those attractions can vary. Although I choose the word bisexual to describe my sexual orientation, my physical and romantic attraction towards various genders has never been fixed. This used to be something that I found very confusing when I was younger, but now I have grown to embrace and enjoy it!
Gender Fluid is also a gender identity where many folks move around and between different genders, and their gender identity can fluctuate over time. Their gender expression can change respective to their gender identity as well, but not always. Check out the Genderbread Person image below and imagine that a person’s spot on the spectra can move about.
I think that many cis-folks may not see the fluidity of their own sense of gender identity and gender expression. On a daily basis, I observe people enhancing their sense of masculinity or femininity in their behavior and the clothing or makeup they wear. As a cisgender woman, I often self-reflect on how my gender expression correlates to the way I am feeling on any given day. How feminine I present can be a reflection of my either connection to my own sense of being female, or if I am being influenced by what I feel is expected of me in a given situation.
Sexual preferences and desires can be fluid for many over a lifetime in accordance with how connected they are to their own sense of self as well as their partner or partners. I see fluidity in the kink community among folks who identify as switch, as their role being either dominant or submissive can change based on their mood or who they are with.
Polyamory and Consensual Non-monogamy
Fluidity exists all over the poly and consensual non-monogamy community. Partners in an open or polyamorous arrangement can have agreements and compositions that shift in accordance with preferences and emotional or life situations.
Thanks for sharing your time with me today! I encourage you to consider all of the ways in which you can observe fluidity around you. I challenge you to look within yourself through the lens of fluidity. Note how it relates to your sexual orientation, gender, sexual preferences, mood, tastes….
Also, I just want to thank the folks at Sex Down South, as the theme for their conference this year is “Fluid”! They inspired me to write about fluidity today. I love and support the work that y’all do!!