Skip navigation.

Five things the Internet taught me about sexual orientation

  • strict warning: Only variables should be assigned by reference in D:\iis\nml\modules\links\links_related.module on line 190.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be assigned by reference in D:\iis\nml\modules\links\links_related.module on line 190.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be assigned by reference in D:\iis\nml\modules\links\links_related.module on line 428.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be assigned by reference in D:\iis\nml\modules\links\links.inc on line 1085.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be assigned by reference in D:\iis\nml\modules\links\links.inc on line 1085.
Michelle Avenant's picture

In sequel to Five ways the internet has affected my gender identity, here are five things about my sexual orientation that I should’ve learnt in the classroom or from offline media, but didn’t. Thank God for the internet.

1.    1. There ain’t nothin’ abnormal about same-sex attraction
The lucky ones among us were taught this in school… kind of. Thanks to the combined influence of patriarchal schoolyard gossip, my pseudo-liberal church, and way too many Hollywood movies, homosexual people to me in high school were token characters everyone accepted – as stereotypical token characters, like Damian in Mean Girls.

When I discovered the online LGBTI community, I quickly realised that the word "homosexual" actually refers to relatable human people, not comical sideline characters. Who woulda thunk it?

For me, this meant that having a giant awkward unrequited crush on CAREY MULLIGAN (her name was not actually Carey Mulligan) did not make me a stereotypical "creepy lesbian" like Tammy Metzler in Election. It was actually a lot more normal than I had been taught it was, and had nothing to do with my identity as a person unless I wanted it to. I could have been saved a lot of angst if I had known this when I was 16. 

2.     2. Pansexuality. That’s a thing.
One of my classmates once told me - in mysterious tones - of “pansexuals”: people who were sexually attracted to anything and everything, as "pan" came from the Greek word for “all”. And I believed him.


If I hadn’t stumbled on this Youtube video and immediately identified with it, I think I’d still be hopelessly confused about my sexual orientation.

3.    3. My relationship status doesn’t define my sexual orientation 
Starting to talk about myself as pansexual whilst in a long-term heterosexual relationship was scary, because I constantly feared someone would turn around and go “um, but you’re straight…”


This video helped me find confidence and remember that...

4.     4. Your sexual orientation is exactly that: yours.
It’s easy to forget this in a society in which policing, controlling or judging people’s sexual expression is such a prominent norm. The reality, though, is that nobody is authorized to tell you who you’re attracted to and why except yourself, because your sexuality does not belong to other people.

5.     5. How to explain my sexual orientation or sexuality to others.
In addition to a bunch of resources on how to talk about not-heterosexual orientation with people who don't understand it, I found this great video on how to talk about pansexuality without sounding self-righteous: a very real problem that wouldn't have otherwise occurred to me. Thanks again, internet!

What has the internet taught you about your sexual orientation? Comment and let me know.