Quizzing My Sexual Orientation

Artwork by Riya Nagendra

To look up quizzes online in an attempt to figure out one’s sexual orientation is an experience shared by every confused person with access to the internet. In fact, even those who are undoubtedly heterosexual might look up such quizzes just to pass their time. So much so that this is a valid option one can select at times. The question “What do you think your sexuality is?” followed by multiple options, one of which will be, “Straight- I’m just bored”.

Now, there’s no harm in that- these quizzes aren’t taken all that seriously. Most people taking the quizzes are aware of how ridiculous they can be, or are just looking for something tangible that will confirm what they already know about their sexual orientation. That being said, the stereotypes and misinformation presented in these quizzes can very sneakily warp someone’s view of sexualities.

Take, for instance, pansexuality. If I had a penny for every time the option “the personality of my partner matters more” was followed by the conclusion that the person taking the quiz is pansexual, I’d be buying myself a nice dinner tonight. Pansexuality and bisexuality are sometimes used interchangeably, but more often than not people prefer specific distinctions between the two. Labels can be immensely confusing, especially with multiple labels popping up with vaguely similar meanings (pansexual, omnisexual, polysexual).

But regardless of all that, I’m fairly certain that it wouldn’t be a reach to say that no matter the personality type one looks for in their partners, it has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. To go after someone’s personality rather just base desire is not the purview of any particular sexuality, and to state that it is the defining trait of a pansexual person is quite misleading.

One quiz provided me with this previously unheard of information as it stated that: “You are pansexual. You don’t experience any physical attraction, but you experience emotional attraction towards all. Sex and seduction are irrelevant to you.” I’ve always considered pansexuality to be the capability of being attracted to someone regardless of their sex or gender, but hey, maybe I’m wrong. This quiz definitely isn’t putting up with my policing of labels.

The severely annoying ones are those that try to figure out one’s sexuality based on personal choices which have nothing to do with sexuality. Are you a man who likes Lady Gaga? Are you a woman with a pixie cut? Do you wear dungarees? And so on. A particularly bizarre quiz I stumbled onto even asked me about my opinion on cars. I don’t have one – neither an opinion nor a car.

When it comes to asexuality, the options in the quiz become pretty obvious. One strange conclusion that a quiz led me to after I had tailored all my answers to ensure I’d be declared asexual was this- “You are asexual, you are not attracted to anybody and are not interested in love or sex.”

Now again to be fair, labels aren’t set in stone and every individual has their own way of interpreting and applying them, to a certain extent (there is really only one way to interpret the meaning of ‘lesbian’). But the common knowledge is that asexuality is about one’s sexual preference, or lack of it, and has very little to do with romantic preferences. If you believe in the ‘split attraction’ model, the term for the lack of romantic attraction would probably be aromantic.

But without getting into the logistics of it, or getting too lost in the inherent confusion that comes along with a discussion on labels, the quizzes on sexual orientations can be quite generalizing.

The ones that I found tolerable were those which, rather than outright assigning a sexual orientation, tried to gauge the responses on a scale. Another approach I found significantly more helpful was when the attraction was split up into percentages.

However, a glaring issue which is probably noticeable at this point is the lack of distinction these quizzes tend to make between gender and sex, or how the questions follow an obvious binary (same sex, opposite sex). Some questions seem to imply that bisexuals are only attracted to cisgender people, whereas if you’re also attracted to transgender people you’re probably pansexual, which is a misconception of epic proportions. The implication being that trans men and women are not real men and women, hence bisexual people cannot be attracted to them (but that is a whole other can of worms we cannot open right now).

To be fair to these quizzes with a maximum of twelve questions, sexual orientations and identities are endlessly intricate. No two people are the same, and while we need identities to assert our rights in this strange world, and to forge relationships, sometimes they tend to fall short. On the other hand, when faced with the confusion of not understanding your own feelings, having a word, any word to assign to oneself can be immensely reassuring.

The discourse surrounding labels is ever changing (sometimes unnecessarily so) just like language itself is constantly in flux. The only way to face this tempestuous landscape is with patience and kindness, and also by not relying on quizzes made by strangers online who think being in love with your best friend is the universal gay experience, which it is not. Right?

This story was about:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Trying to get my master's degree. Venting on gender and sexuality whenever possible. Sometimes I draw.

We hate spam as much as you. Enter your email address here.