In mid-July, I was on the faculty and also a keynote speaker at Camp Pride 2014 (campuspride.org). For my keynote, rather than give a speech (I can do those too!), I did a version of my Beyond Binaries program. Seventy campers completed the anonymous questionnaire that is part of this program.
One of the questions asked: “What identity word(s) words do you use to describe your sexual orientation?” Here’s how folks responded:
Sexually fluid/Pansexual/Poly/Queer/mostly I say I fell of the sexual orientation wagon (1)
straight-ish (but usually straight) (1)
Note that 24 people wrote in more than one identity word when filling out the questionnaire.
Here’s something to think about: if these students had instead been filling out a multiple-choice questionnaire in which they were asked, “What is your sexual orientation?” with only “Straight” or “Lesbian” or “Gay” or “Bisexual” as options and where they were required to choose ONE of these in order to move to the next question, how would that have affected what researchers [thought they] could conclude?
Words matter. They can reveal or conceal a great deal about us.