Heteroflexibility

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In spite of the seemingly positive improvements in terms of queer visibility in the media, the reality is that many of the characters and storylines depicted in television and film are representations of a new category of sexual identity: heteroflexibility. This identity is defined as an individual who is open to sexual encounters and relationships with members of the same sex but who nonetheless remains primarily attached to a heterosexual lifestyle, both sexually and emotionally (Essig). This identity represents a significant difference from homosexuality or even bisexuality in that the individual, in his or her actions under the label of heteroflexibility, still upholds the hegemony of heterosexuality while simultaneously inheriting an added element of sexual freedom that may not exist within a purely heterosexual framework. Instances of heteroflexibility can be seen in various places in the media, particularly in recent years. The concept is extremely controversial particularly because of the manner in which portrayals of this identity work to depoliticize the realm of sexual identity struggles, rendering questions of sexual orientation and subsequent identity as falling under a label of personal choice with little social or cultural context around it, as opposed to a fixed, personal trait. In the end, to embrace a 'heteroflexible' label is essentially to embrace a heterosexual label that still allows an individual to enjoy homosexual pleasures without having to identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or otherwise queer and, subsequently, embrace the social and political conditions that come along with such labels.


Diamond, Lisa M. (2005) 'I'm Straight but I Kissed a Girl': The Trouble with American Media Representations of Female-Female Sexuality. Feminism & Psychology' 15: 104-110.

Essig, L. (2000) ‘Heteroflexibility’, salon.com, 15 November, accessed 1 October 2003. Available: http://dir.salon.com/mwt/feature/2000/11/15/heteroflexibility/index.html