UK: ‘I’m a bisexual homoromantic’: why young Brits are rejecting old labels

The gay-straight binary is collapsing, and it’s doing so at speed. The more people who are out, the more normal it becomes. Combine that with the seemingly unstoppable legislative reinforcement of equal rights and it seems less “abnormal”, less boundary-busting, to fall in love or lust with someone of the same gender.

In fact, the word queer, once the defiant reclamation of a homophobic slur, has become a ubiquitous term. While the young people I spoke to were largely resistant to the word “bisexual”, even if they are sleeping with both men and women, they used “queer” easily and freely. “Among our callers and our volunteers, more people are identifying as ‘queer’, particularly among younger generations,” says Natasha Walker, of the LGBT+ Helpline. “In the past, people were fighting for the right to be able to define themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* etc. Although this is very much still the case, there is also a definite shift towards an acceptance of people as they are – label or no label.”

Moving beyond the need to identify as one thing or the other feels utopian in many respects, and it acknowledges that for many people, sexuality is not an either/or decision. But it also relies on an idealised vision of an open-minded and kind society, which is true for the privileged world of, say, celebrities, but is not always the case elsewhere. Casual homophobia has not been erased by semantic optimism. Read more