As always, this comic is the briefest of introductions to the concept of what attraction can be, the different ways it can manifest, and how one can label it— and there are many different points of view out there! There’s so much more to learn about attraction, sexual orientation, identity labels, relationship models, and, you know. Like. Everything.
It’s a big, wide Internet, here’s a few resources to get you started:
► Attraction (Sexual, Romantic, Sensual, Aesthetic) on AVENwiki
► Romantic Orientation (including Romantic identities) on Wikipedia
► What Are Different Types Of Attraction? on BetterHelp
► Untangling a Gender, Attraction and Relationships Tangle on Scarleteen
► Hey Hot Stuff: On Attraction, Desirability, and “Types” on Scarleteen
► Just the Basics, Ace: An Asexuality Primer on Scarleteen
ALSO. This point didn’t make it into the comic, but it’s the first example I bring up when I hear about someone’s bi/pan/queer sexuality being dismissed because they don’t have equal experience with the various genders:
When a virgin cisgender teenage boy who’s never even asked a girl out yet says that he’s straight, nobody’s like “You haven’t been with a girl yet, so I don’t really believe you. You’re confused or you want attention or you want to fit in with the cool kids or you just don’t even know what you actually want.” No! They’re just like “Ok.” and they don’t give it a second thought.
And yet, when people say they are attracted to more than one gender but they haven’t had any experience with those other types of folks, it’s fairly common they’ll get that incredulous, dismissive reaction– even from other members under the queer umbrella. There’s this air of “Prove it.” from the monosexuals.
Which is a long way of saying: If folks are willing to take a self-proclaimed straight boy at his word that he’s attracted to girls even if he has no experience with them, it’d be super cool if people would extend that courtesy of belief to all the inexperienced queer population too.
Which was still a long way of saying: DUDE, JUST BE COOL ABOUT BISEXUALS!
The next panel reveals the two silhouettes to be Matthew and Erika, who are enjoying a romantic picnic date together with cubes of ham.
“More ham?” Matthew asks, holding up a forkful of ham up to Erika.
A pleased Erika responds, “Don’t mind if I do!”
The exchange is quickly interrupted by the person yelling out a distraught “AUGH” as they flop sadly on the bench.
Matthew holds up a hand to his ear. “Oooh! I know that sound!”, he says.
Matthew gets up real close to the person on the bench. He squints and puts a finger on his chin as he guesses, “You’re… struggling with the complexities of attraction… and… mmm… nailing down a sexual identity?”
Surprised, the person sits up and looks at him. “How did you… uh, well yes, I am!”
Matthew props one leg up on the edge of the bench and makes his best attempt at posing like Riker from Star Trek, leaning down on his elevated knee with his elbow. “Wanna talk about it?”
The person responds, “Yeah, I guess. I just… Do you really NEED to have S-E-X with someone in order to know if you’re really bisexual or gay or whatever?”
It’s Erika’s turn to pop up behind the bench and startle the person as she answers, “Nope! Not at all. Your sexuality isn’t defined by who you’ve had (or not had) sex with. It’s about who you find attractive!”
The person turns away, still looking troubled. “Blarp. It’s just - my friends keep saying I can’t really be bisexual because I’ve never hooked up with the same sex before. They say I’m straight and just, like, looking for attention or something.”
Erika looks stern as she puts her hands on her hips. She says, “Well, whoever’s saying that is a doofus,” as Matthew nods his head in agreement.
Erika and Matthew start eating from their plate of ham cubes again.
“That sounds like a case of projection to me!” Matthew says around a mouthful of said ham cubes.
Erika thoughtfully spears another cube with her fork. “It says more about them and their limited understanding of sexuality, than it does about you and your attractions.”
Matthew leans in towards the person. He offers up a plate as he says, “Oh, where are my manners. Want some ham?”
The person holds up their hands as they awkwardly lean away. “Th-that’s okay. I’m good.”
Erika stands next to a sign that says, “YOU MUST SUCK THIS MUCH DICK TO ENTER” with a standing height scale of a smiling cartoon penis with measurement lines along its shaft. She says, “Who you’re attracted to isn’t about hard rules or taking specific actions. It’s not about how many dicks you’ve sucked or pussies you’ve eaten or any other combination of orifices you’ve mashed together.”
Erika and the person float in the air with a giant radiating heart background, with individual hearts floating over their chests.
Erika announces in a big heart shaped speech bubble, “Your sexual orientation is about your FEELINGS.”
She says, “If you got the feels for a specific type of person, then you’ve got the feels! If you want to announce those feelings through a sexual identity title - like Bisexual, Ace, Pansexual, Straight, Gay, or whatever - then go for it! Nobody has any say in YOUR identity.”
Matthew appears next to the person as Erika is talking. He pops an olive in his mouth. “(CHOMP) Olive?” He kindly offers the person a jar.
Still weirded out, the person says, “Uh, no.”
Erika continues, leaning on Matthew’s shoulder. “And likewise, if you want to keep it all to yourself, that’s fine too! Do what’s right for you.”
Matthew puts a hand on his chest. “Heck, I call myself Bi even though I’ve not been with a guy in forever - but that doesn’t mean I’m not still attracted to them!”
The person scratches their head. “Ok, so, what even IS attraction? It’s just wanting to bone someone?”
Erika answers, “Well, that’s one form of attraction - sexual attraction - but there are a bunch of different types, too. Attraction can be summed up as being strongly drawn to someone or something. Like gravity! It’s feeling a pull, or interest, or pleasure from that person or thing.
Erika and the person hold up two giant magnets in their arms that pull towards each other. The word “ATTRACTION” can be read between the magnets.
We can feel it in different ways for different people and even things. It doesn’t need to be a strictly sexual feeling, either! Some forms of attraction can include (but are not limited to!)...
Sexual Attraction (AKA Physical Attraction)
Finding someone (or thing) sexually appealing, being physically excited and desiring some kind of sexual touching or activity with them.
Romantic Attraction (AKA Interpersonal Attraction)
The strong desire to be in a relationship with another person as a partnership, with a degree of emotional intimacy and commitment that is different or maybe even more intense than friendship.
The desire for non-sexual physical contact and caregiving with somebody else, such as hugs, cuddles, and general love and affection.
Just finding someone visually pleasing without necessarily having any desire for a physical, romantic, or emotional connection. Like seeing a beautiful model in an ad.
There’s lots of different combinations and overlaps that can play out.
Like, you could be Romantically Attracted to someone, so you want to be in a relationship with them, but you aren’t Sexually Attracted to them, so you don’t wanna bang ‘em.
Or you could feel Romantically, Sexually, Aesthetically, and Sensually Attracted all at the same time to the same person!
People can figure out loving, creative ways to accommodate each other’s needs if their attractions don’t perfectly sync up and they do want to be together in a relationship.
Erika, Matthew, and the person all end up sitting back down on the bench together. Erika places one hand on her chest and one on the other person’s chest reassuringly. She says, “The skinny of it all is that your attraction to others - your sexuality - is a deeply personal thing that only you can know for yourself. And it’s okay NOT “to know” for sure! You don’t need to commit yourself to a label right now or ever. The most important thing is to be with people who make you happy and you do the same for them. What you decide to call yourself is up to you and you can change and mix it up as much and as many times as you like. Whatever attractions you do or don’t have, your feelings are hella valid, even if your friends are too much of a bunch of doofuses to understand that right now.”
The person looks comforted by this.
Matthew suddenly leans over the side of the bench to grab something.
“... Sardines?” he offers, whipping a smelly can out of a picnic bag.
Unsettled, the person finally hollers, “WHAT did you pack for your picnic?!” as Erika does a polite ham munch to end the comic.
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This comic was posted on July 7, 2020 and transcribed May 15, 2022, by Dennie Park, who can be found at linktr.ee/DeepBeeps