FINDING YOUR COLOR IN THE RAINBOW
If one were to go by Freudian theory, sexual identity is the central source of what determines a person’s personality. Our sexual drive does affect the development of our personal identity and our sexuality is complex, to say the least. Scientifically speaking human sexuality is determined by our genetic makeup and mental activity. Many of us are at a loss to understand sexuality beyond what we feel and understand in our own experiences.
People’s sexual choices can seem shocking and terrifying, and at times very difficult to accept for some of us. I would like to present a clear picture of human sexuality through this article. So, I will focus on talking about human sexuality, sexual orientation and on ways to determine sexuality. I should give you a Nerd-alert for this article as it’s going to be a bit dry but it could be an eye opener.
Sexuality is the ability of a person to have erotic experiences and responses. A person’s sexual orientation is what influences whom they are interested in and attracted to sexually. I am sure you have heard the term LGBT or LGBTI in recent times. The LGBT community is working very hard to have their voices heard and rightly so. Let me give you a rundown of what the LGBTI acronym stands for.
- LESBIAN is a woman who is attracted to other women
- GAY is a person (man/woman) who is attracted to someone of the same sex
- BISEXUAL is a person who can be attracted to men or women
- TRANSGENDER is a person whose sense of their own gender does not match the biological sex that they are born with (ex: physical male who feels that he is a woman and identifies as a SHE, physical female who feels that she is a male and identifies as a HE)
- INTERSEX is a person who is born with sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, and/or chromosome patterns that do not fit the typical definition of male or female (this is a physical/biological & physiological condition and not a mental or emotional one)
The LGBTI community experiences their sexuality in ways that are unique to each group. And of course, it goes without saying that though there are certain characteristics about each group’s sexual traits, each and everyone brings their own personality to sexual experiences. There will be a separate article on the specifics of the experience of LGBT sexuality in later issues of TNM.
Identifying one’s own sexuality can be perplexing at times. If you ever experienced an attraction to someone of the same sex during puberty, it was a normal process of experiencing and deciding your sexuality. Let me also point out that, sexuality can be an ever changing process so, it’s not uncommon for people to change their sexual orientation during their lifetime. Just because you have had a heterosexual relationship and a homosexual relationship does not make you a bisexual unless you identify yourself as such. Sexual orientation is very much determined by how the person defines his/herself.
In a positive turn of events, Transgender & Intersex rights have been officially recognized in Nepal since the 2011 National Census by adding a Third Gender option in addition to male and female sex. There is yet some confusion with the term, ‘Third Gender’ and often the whole LGBT community can get lumped together under this banner. During the Census data collection Third Gender is actually used to describe those who are physically neither male nor female. According to definition, that would fall under ‘Intersex’.
If you ever experienced an attraction to someone of the same sex during puberty, it was a normal process of experiencing and deciding your sexuality.
So, how do gender identity and sexual orientation relate to each other?
Gender Identity is who you are and Sexual Orientation is whom you love!
There are quite a few social/scientific models that help to determine where you fall in the sexuality spectrum. Also, it is a great resource if you want to figure out where you might lie in the sexuality spectrum and you can figure out which model describes you best.
The Kinsey Scale has been around for a while now and probably is the most talked about. Kinsey was a pioneer in the study of human sexuality and also made it clear that sexuality was not an either/or mentality of Hetro- or Homo- sexuality. Basically, he describes the human sexual spectrum as going from a 0, which signifies ‘Exclusive Heterosexuality’ to a 6 signifying ‘Exclusive Homosexuality’. A person who would identify as equally heterosexual & homosexual would be a 3 on the Kinsey scale.
The Storms Scale uses an X & Y axis to chart a person’s sexuality and also takes into account Asexuality while describing sexual behaviors. It portrays sexuality as less of a linear trend and depicts the possibility of homo- and hetero- sexuality occurring simultaneously. I like this scale because it allows for individuals to describe themselves as asexual but it places a person outside of the sexual experience so I disagree with that. Asexuality cannot really be placed outside of the sexual experience.
The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid is a variation on the Kinsey Scale. The Klein Grid has a 7-point scale similar to the Kinsey scale ranging from 1 to 7. The Klein Grid acknowledges that a person’s sexuality could change over time and allows for a multidimensional depiction of sexuality that is represented by different behaviors and expressions.
Human rights and sexual rights in the Nepalese Context
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights. All human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible and interrelated. This applies to our sexual rights as well. We all have the right to sexuality, which is the right to express one’s sexuality and to be free from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. When you hear people advocating for LGBT rights, they are asking nothing more than to experience the human rights that should be available to all humans. Basically it is so as not to face any discrimination based on their sexual orientation or their gender identity.
Homosexuality has been legal in Nepal since 2007. Currently the country is waiting on the constituent assembly to pass the legalization of same-sex marriage and protection for sexual minorities. There are also anti-discrimination laws for LGBTI in areas of employment, provision of goods and services etc. Gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly in the military and every Nepali has the right to change their legal gender.
That is LGBTI in general and some specifics to Nepal in a nutshell. I hope you have found this article interesting, informative and I do so hope it has made you more accepting and tolerant if you are different from the LGBTI and if you are unsure I hope this gives you the confidence to explore yourself and find yourself! Happy discovering! Enjoy!