The Kinsey-ish Scale

For an IDAHOBIT stall this year, Leeds Bi Group decided to have an interactive poster with the Kinseyish Scale on it.

The idea was to get people to think about where on the scale they feel they are and which label(s) they use for themselves. We tweaked Alfred Kinsey’s well known scale slightly by taking out the numbers and changing the wording to “exclusively attracted to same gender/exclusively attracted to different gender”. We did this to try and make it as open to interpretation as possible and to help generate discussion.
The poster worked well as a talking point and helped encourage people to engage with our stall. It was great to discuss the different types of attraction such as sexual and romantic and you might be at different parts of the scale depending on the type of attraction. How labels are personal labels are and the same space on the scale can have different labels, even those that might be conflicting. And how people use different labels for what may seem to be the same thing.
You can be bisexual and homoromantic, asexual and biromantic, you can be all the way at one end of the scale and be gay or nudge your way along the scale acknowledging the potential for attraction to a different gender and still be gay. You can also be at that same, not quite end of the line spot (say a Kinsey 5.5) and identify as bi.
We saw a range of people in the middle section, those who in our interpretation identify as being attracted to more than one gender. The labels they choose included a number of “bi”, a few “pansexual”, “a bit wibbly wobbly” and “everyone is beautiful”. There were also two people, “unlabelled” and “bi – regardless of gender” that felt they did not want to link their label to the scale.
Now, we know this is not a quality piece of research; if it was we would be declaring only one in 35 people in our city identify as straight! Clearly this is not true, but hopefully we managed to provide an interesting discussion for some and a little education for others.
It was great to talk to people who identify similarly to myself but use different labels, or no labels at all. This is something that seems to be on the increase and though I worry slightly that the political standpoint of “bisexual” may become confused or diluted with the use of different labels, it is great to see diversity and a range of people who are confident about their orientation.
Some people worry about “label wars” and I think there is some good that can come out of such debates. Personally, the only time that this seems to be a problem is when we try to impose our labels on others.
In an ideal world, I would love to see more role models identifying as bi and an increased use of the Bisexual Index’s definition of bi as “someone who is attracted to more than one gender” within the media instead of the binary “attracted to men and women” that is often used.