“I think I want to kiss Lady Gaga,” my ex-boyfriend, turned friend tells me. It’s 2008 and her successor single Poker Face was just released. It was lyrically confusing to most in its ornate climb to number one, but I knew exactly what kind of cards Gaga had been dealt.
I drove home that night. I didn’t even turn the music up. The roads were quiet, and I was left with the noise of my own thoughts. A crescendo that almost made me pull over. I wanted to kiss her too.
I wanted to be sure of myself before I started telling people I was bisexual even though I didn’t have to, but I wanted to. I wanted to be a proud B in the LGBTQIA+ community. If I was going to do this, it was going to be with no obscurity. My Google search history sported bisexuals, bisexuality in women, bisexual signs, lesbian p– But the pièce de resistance was The Kinsey Scale. Yes, this was my golden ticket in reassuring myself that my 60-40 favouring men was valid. I had my research and credentials in my back pocket – it was time to come out.
But what is the Kinsey Scale, exactly? It’s the oldest and now outdated way to scale sexual orientation, but we’ll get into that later; it deserves some praise for being the first of its kind. Alfred Kinsey, the Daddy of Sexual Revolution, broke some serious ground when he first reported in 1948 that sexuality is on a spectrum and not just two categories: heterosexuality and homosexuality and it is fluidity. After answering questions regarding sexual attraction and fantasies you are deemed a number on the Kinsey Scale:
0 Exclusively heterosexual
1 Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2 Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3 Equally heterosexual and homosexual
4 Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5 Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6 Exclusively homosexual
X No socio-sexual contacts or reactions (updated)
At first glance a person who considers themselves straight or gay would say 0 or 6, respectively, without hesitation. Which may in fact be the case, but studies show not always. People who consider themselves heterosexual will on average score a 0.34, bisexual a 3.10 and homosexual a 5.67. These aren’t not clear-cut numbers; it shows the spectrum of complex and unclassified sexualities which has always existed.
Here in Australia, we celebrate this sexual diversity on Wear it Purple Day on the last Friday of August. This year is the date is August 27. It was co-founded in 2010 by high school student Katherine Hudson and university student Chris Williams in response to the suicide of LGBTQIA+ student Tyler Clementi. Purple means spirit, pride, creativity, magic, wealth, beauty; an animus colour. I recently re-watched Breaking Bad and remembered how purple was an interesting motif in many scenes and now I know why.
The initiative strives to foster, supportive, safe and empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people. The team provide support and resources for several institutions and workplaces starting at the school level to give people, especially the youth to develop their skills and expand their networking in their community. Through partnerships, the team provide supportive and safe spaces (virtual and physical) where people can feel proud of who they are.
The theme for Wear it Purple Day 2021 is centred around sexual orientation and sexual identity, which brings us to the argument that the Kinsey Scale is now outdated. Firstly, it doesn’t represent all gender identities and sexual orientations in the past, present and future, but The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid does. It brings a larger dimension to the Kinsey Scale and introduced the idea that sexuality is also measured emotionally and socially as well from physical actions, fantasies and lifestyle. A huge addition to the skin depths of the Kinsey Scale. I produce a 2 on the Kinsey Scale and a “Bisexual: Mostly Heterosexual” on the Klein Scale. Sure, I mean, they’re both not wrong.
If you want to check out The Sell Assessment of Sexual Orientation (SASO) you must remember your body count, how often you are attracted to women and/or men and how many of each. I don’t know about you but dredging up such a detailed account of my sexual history may be tedious work. Nonetheless, I found myself “significantly heterosexual” after taking the test. I am a married woman. Other people are just considered good looking to me I suppose.
In my opinion, the best contemporary scale that won’t leave you with flashbacks you didn’t ask for and DM’ing your ex is The Storms Sexuality Axis (1980). Michael Storms is a psychologist at the University of Kansas and studies sexuality and erotic fantasies. He found that bisexuals engaged in as much heterosexual fantasising as heterosexuals and as much homosexual fantasising as their lesbian and gay counterparts. He believes bisexuality incorporates total heterosexuality and total homosexuality which Kinsey did not ascertain. It plots eroticism on an X- and Y-axis, describing a wider range of sexual orientations, including asexuality, that Kinsey did not include initially. I forwarded this test to a few people who identify as either homosexual, heterosexual or somewhat asexual. They were plotted respective to their identities but where exactly within the quadrant varied depended on their responses to the questions about sexual fantasies. I fell smack bang on the line between the bisexual and heterosexual quadrant. My result: “100% heterosexual, 50% homosexual”. Well, yes, if you put it that way.
No scale cannot perfectly dissect and generate an exact holistic account of the complexity that is sexuality. But it’s interesting to explore and more importantly, to celebrate this Wear it Purple Day and every other day. Remember, you have the right to be proud of who you are. Don’t apologise, own it.