This section is currently being translated. More Q&A are coming soon. You can view the complete French version here.
- Sexual orientation
- Coming out
The downward-pointing pink triangle dates to the first concentration camps in Nazi Germany. It was a symbol of persecution and discrimination the Nazis used to mark homosexuals. The homosexual community re-appropriated the pink triangle and now proudly use it as a symbol of identity.
A bisexual person is someone who feels affection and desire for men and women on both an emotional and physical level. Although the prefix (bi) refers to two people, i.e. a man and a woman, a person who identifies as bisexual does not necessarily support the idea that gender is male or female and may be attracted to a person who is gender fluid.
A homosexual person is a person who feels affection and desire on both an emotional and a physical level for people of the same sex.
A heterosexual person is defined as someone who feels affection and desire (on both an emotional and physical level) for a person of the opposite sex.
Theoretically, bisexuality is defined as the sexual, emotional and/or emotional attraction for people of the same sex and the opposite sex. Etymologically, “bi” means “two”. Thus, the word “bisexuality” may give the impression of falling withing a theory that views biological sex or gender as binary concepts (men / women).
The “pan” of pansexuality is translated as “all”, that is to say that pansexual persons are attracted sexually, emotionally and/or emotionally towards people regardless of gender and of how a person identifies (woman, man, trans, without gender, gender fluid or other). The definition thus gives the impression to fall within a theory that more clearly acknowledges a plurality of genders and identities.
It is important to note that these definitions and distinctions are theoretical and that in practice everyone has a different experience regarding their orientation. People have their own personal reasons for choosing to label (or not to label) their orientation. For example, it is quite possible that someone who identifies as bisexual wouldn’t agree with the idea that someone’s gender can only be male or female. The person may, for example, be attracted to someone whose gender is fluid. Thus, rather than talking about the differences between bisexuality and pansexuality, it would be preferable to talk about what these orientations have in common, that is, the attraction for more than one gender.
Questions about sexual orientation
Not necessarily. Bisexuality can sometimes be transient in some individuals who are questioning their sexual orientation, although not everyone who questions their sexual orientation is bisexual.
Studies have shown that exclusive homosexuality and heterosexuality are two poles between which human sexuality and bisexuality can be expressed. In other words, there are infinite forms of bisexuality that can be placed on a scale ranging from “exclusively heterosexual” to “exclusively homosexual”.
Source: Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux in collaboration with the CLSC des Faubourgs in Montréal, Bien vivre son orientation sexuelle – Les femmes et l’homosexualité, 1999, page 7.
Myths and realities
Do we choose our sexual orientation? Do we become homosexual, lesbian, bisexual or pansexual based on our experiences, major influences and/or education?
Many researchers have tried to explain homosexuality, bisexuality or pansexuality. Thus, many studies have been conducted on the subject. Various theories have been suggested, but there is no consensus. No matter what theory one adheres to, we can say that there is a consensus in that we do not choose our sexual orientation and that it is impossible to change it.
Source: Fondation Émergence (2007), On ne choisit pas son orientation sexuelle, Journée internationale contre l’homophobie, campagne 2007.
Discovery and acceptance
The acceptance of one’s homosexuality or bisexuality is a progressive and personal process that takes time and varies from person to person. Several steps characterize the process of acceptance, a journey that a person undertakes at their own pace and based on their personality, history and living environment. According to Cass (1984), the acceptance of a person’s homosexual or bisexual identity includes six steps: confusion; comparison; tolerance of one’s orientation; acceptance; pride; and finally the synthesis of one’s identity.
Several factors may hinder the acceptance of one’s sexual orientation including prejudicial and homophobic remarks made by family and/or friends which can often contribute to a state of confusion, fear and ambivalence.
In some cases people struggling with internalized homophobia reject their homosexuality or bisexuality despite the risk of developing short, medium or long-term negative effects on their health. We do not choose our sexual orientation, rather we choose to accept it or not.
The above mentioned factors justify the need for LGBTQ+ community support groups which many people choose to be part of on their journey of acceptance.
As in the case for heterosexual people, there is no definitive age that a person discovers their homosexuality or bisexuality.
While the majority of gay, lesbian, bisexual and pansexual people say they discovered their attraction for people of the same sex at puberty, some people say they felt a difference in infancy while others say they questioned their sexual orientation much later in life and sometimes even after having been a married to a person of the opposite sex.
Source: Meglioli , Veronica, Bien vivre son homosexualité au féminin, Ed Jean-Pierre Deville, 2006 .