Don’t subtract the plus- underground LGBT+ members need more recognition

By: Emma Sollenberger

“We know a lot about homosexuality—ok, cool,” said Mariah Manoylov, a freshman at the University of Georgia. “But there’s so, so many more things on the sexuality spectrum and the gender spectrum that exist, but not many people know about.”

Homosexuality isn’t the only LGBT+ group to receive national attention recently. The “bathroom laws” attempting to bar transgender individuals from certain restrooms have generated enormous controversy, bringing transgender issues into the light.

However, while trans men and women are gaining recognition, other LGBT+ groups, such as nonbinary genders and unknown sexualities, still do not receive as much attention and acceptance.

“Polysexuality, demisexuality, asexuality,” said Manoylov, when asked to list identities she considers lesser known. “If you want to expand that to gender- agender, I don’t feel like a lot of people know about that. Trigender.”

Unless you have done research or participated in an LGBT+ organization such as UGA’s Lambda Alliance, of which Manoylov is a member, you may not recognize the terms she mentioned.

Asexuality, or the lack of sexual attraction towards any gender, is one of these underrepresented sexualities. Due to the near nonexistence of asexual representation, some people never realize that they may be asexual, and feel broken and left out in the sexualized world we live in. Discovering the existence of asexuality, or any sexuality that applies to a person, can be a step towards better self-expression and understanding.

Another lesser known identity is demisexuality, where a person does not experience sexual attraction until they form an emotional bond with the person they are attracted to. Pansexuals can feel sexual attraction to anyone, regardless of gender, while polysexuals are attracted to multiple, but not all, genders. Pans and polys are often confused with bisexuality- attraction towards two genders -but are actually their own identities.

Many of the discussed sexualites deal with genders that lie on the gender spectrum or under the non-binary umbrella, neither of which are commonly represented in media.

Non-binary is used to describe any gender that falls outside the male-female binary. Genderfluid individuals are one example, experiencing changing gender identities throughout their life, even shifting genders daily. Bigender describes someone identifying as two genders, trigender as three. An agender person does not identify as any gender.

The diversity of labels and definitions leads many to believe that we don’t need them, and that we can be who we are without classifying ourselves. Many disagree. Manoylov suggests that these labels may put words to feelings and allow more healthy self-expression.

“Language is the tool that we use to understand our world,” she said. “So labels are inherently part of our language, and language inherently helps us understand. I feel like people do need labels to understand ourselves, to understand other people- just to understand the world.”