I chose the prefix "DEBATE" for this thread, but I am hoping it will be more of a reasoned discussion than an actual debate. Also, needless to say, discriminatory users should leave now.
So, I was chatting with a friend of mine about the words "homosexual" and "heterosexual". ("Bisexual" intentionally excluded for reasons that, I hope, will become more obvious as this post goes on.)
I have a few issues with them. Firstly, as signifiers of sexuality, they are not actually hugely helpful. Ultimately, the information that your sexuality gives to someone is which people you are attracted to, but the terms "homosexual" and "heterosexual" only give you this information if you also have someone's gender. Granted, in most cases it's quite easy to determine someone's gender, but sometimes it's not, and it just seems weird that one piece of information being useful is contingent on the knowledge of another piece of information. That's generally not how explanations of identity (or really anything) work anywhere else. (For example, you wouldn't expect political views to apply reversely for men and women, ie. it would be crazy if female Democrats were left-wing while male Democrats were right-wing, and female Republicans were right-wing while male Republicans were left-wing.)
It's also highly problematic for people who don't obviously fall within the gender binary. While trans people might be broadly alright (though this is an issue for them), as a trans man who is attracted to men might be able to describe himself as homosexual, it's particularly difficult for intersex or genderqueer people. If I am someone who identifies neither as a man nor a woman, but I am attracted to women, how do I convey that? I'm certainly not homosexual (attracted to the "same"), but neither is "heterosexual" (attracted to the "other") a useful term because both men and women are "other" to me.
More useful terms, I feel, would be androsexual and gynosexual. ("Andro-" and "gyno-" meaning to do with men and women respectively.) In this way, your sexuality is not determined by a compound of both who you are attracted to and your gender, but simply by who you are attracted to (as one would assume sexuality would be).
The main objection to these terms being used to the exclusion of "homosexual" and "heterosexual" that I can think of is that it disempowers LGBT+ equality movements as the term "homosexual" can be useful in expressing a group of people who occupy a similar social position, as female gynosexuals and male gynosexuals would obviously not face anything like the same issues (at least not for their sexuality or gender).
A few responses to this, though. Firstly, the very fact that I referred to the movement as "LGBT+" rather than "gay rights" is quite telling, as it, to me at least, shows that you don't need to have the overarching word "homosexual" to unite you.
Additionally, usage of these terms would address some of the problems within the LGBT+ movement: that being that issues facing the 'G' part of it are often taken to be the issues of everyone in the movement. While this change in terminology would probably do relatively little for the 'BT+' part (except perhaps by extension), I think it would at least help the 'L' part. I think it's easier to distinguish between the issues facing Gs and Ls when they are referred to as male androsexuals and female gynosexuals rather than by the umbrella term of 'homosexual'. The fact is that female gynosexuals face loads of issues that are unique to them, eg. double glass ceiling, trivialisation of sexuality, additional objectification, corrective rape, the list goes on...
I feel like it might also help in highlighting that bisexual people face distinct issues from either Ls or Gs as opposed to just being a bit less homosexual, but I don't know about that one. That would be more of a positive externality of the use of these terms to be honest.
There's also no reason it would necessarily have to be used to the exclusion of old terms (which, of course, would be effectively impossible anyway), so that's worth considering too.
So, yeah, thoughts?