Young, Fun & Fluid: A Queer Perspective on Sexual Fluidity

But what if it's only a phase? Credits: LesMedia

But what if it’s only a phase? Credits: LesMedia

In 2009, Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson’s yearlong flame eventually simmered into one of Lindsay’s many so-called phases. 4 years later, LiLo proclaimed, ‘I know I’m straight. I have made out with girls before, and I had a relationship with a girl… I think I was looking for something different.’

Lindsay is not the only one to surprise expectations of sexuality. Recently, model and fashion icon Cara Delevigne sparked rumours that she was bisexual after splitting up with her boyfriend Jake Bugg in favour of actress Michelle Rodriguez. The rumours were fuelled further after an apparent kiss between Cara and friend Rita Ora was revealed. When asked by the Telegraph about her sexuality, Cara replied, ‘I’m young, I’m having fun. People can say what they want, but I’m having a good time.’ Cara’s “labellessness”, in fact, led her to found the campaign Self Evident Truths, a photographic project which aimed to portray a wide variety of people who identified as “anything other than 100 per cent straight”.

Sexual fluidity might indeed be a positive step for the LGBT+ community. As Lindsay and Cara have shown, refusing to be defined by your sexuality often reduces the nervousness of coming out. Two problems often plague those hidden in the closet; first, they are unsure about their sexuality, and second, they are afraid of coming out, for fear of how they will be perceived by society.

Sexual fluidity deals with the former issue by promoting experimentation, and a pourquoi pas attitude à la Cara Delevigne. By doing this, those who remain indecisive about their sexual orientation (Am I straight? Am I gay? Perhaps I’m bisexual?), might have the opportunity and the time to make a decision, without being immediately labelled and scrutinised by the world. The solution to the second problem might be found in the label-less nature of sexual fluidity. The fear of coming out is often propagated by fear that society will often label you as L, G, B or T and, in the process, will ultimately attribute designated qualities to you, which they perceive as applying to these groups. While this is a hefty problem for many who come out, sexual fluidity has the potential to reduce this. By promoting “labellessness”, sexual fluidity encourages more individuality, instead of placing people into various binaries and stereotypes.

A significant problem with label-less sexual fluidity, however, arises from the fact that women still largely dominate this phenomenon. Male sexual fluidity is often comparatively ignored or even hushed. In fact, when I told a gay friend of mine that one of my friends had come out as bi, he replied, ‘There’s no such thing as bi men. He’s probably gay.’ There are, of course, a few cases like Frank Ocean who declared that his first true love had been a man, without ever having to declare that he used to be ‘gay’. He even put it beautifully in one of his letters declaring that, ‘I’m starting to think we’re all a lot alike. Human beings spinning in blackness. All wanting to be seen touched, heard, paid attention to.’

Indeed, this issue with the sexism in our understanding of sexual fluidity is evident in everyday life. This is true when it is “socially acceptable” for women (but not men) to assess the attractiveness of other women, or when it is completely “normal” for a straight girl to kiss another girl in a club. One theory behind this is that sexual fluidity stemmed from the feminist movement, and is a means for women to show sexual liberation. As lesbian “preditor in chief” of the new counter-culture magazine declared, ‘It seems like the wild thing to do because it’s more talked about.’ She also added that it was partly ‘women allowing one another to become sexual beings rather than seeing other women as a threat.’ As such, sexual fluidity allows women to escape from the binaries of society, to be wild, to be free and to be, simply put, women. Another theory proposes that some biological evidence shows that women experience arousal in response to a wider range of visual stimuli than men do, and as such are more ‘fluid’. If that is the case then women’s sexuality may be proven to be naturally closer to bisexuality, and as such it is in the interests of women and of feminism to promote bisexual acceptance—but that’s another story.

Still, however, sexual fluidity risks undermining the LGBT+ movement for two reasons. First, if acceptance of fluidity remains exclusive to women, then it risks alienating a large sector of the LGBT+ community. Moreover, if sexual fluidity seeks to promote its philosophy of being gender-neutral, then its very audience must in itself be gender neutral. This surely cannot be possible if it remains a ‘feminist movement’. Second, the LGBT+ movement’s stance has long been that you are ‘born this way’. The risk of not labelling your sexuality might come at the expense of a unified LGBT+ community that sees its participants one day claiming they are straight, the next gay, then straight again. Perhaps sexual fluidity is something that the LGBT+ community should strive for in the end. Perhaps it is possible once the movement is unified in its diversity, but until then, what is important is that it builds momentum and a unified cause.

Otherwise, the cause might see itself crumbling upon the pressures of varying philosophies and motivations.

 Mariella Salazar 

Mariella Salazar studies history at the University of Cambridge. Is also Features co-Editor at, “Get Real.”

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