Speaking of the need to classify…
There’s a lot to be said about the evolving classification surrounding sexual orientation. From what I’ve read (which, I’ll admit, is quite limited), we went from church-approved/sinful to normalsexual/pathological to heterosexual/homosexual, to straight/gay, then added lesbian and maybe bi, then definitely added bi (but maybe only for the acronym) and poooossibly trans, to GLBT, then LGBT, to LGBTQIA+ or however the acronym goes these days (the last coming from a link I’ll post later). The reason there’s a lot to be said about classification, in particular, seems to be the reasons for it. One of the more defensive reasons offered, usually in an argument and usually from the opposing side is the idea of policing borders. This came up quite a bit during the recent Moore/Burchill media kerfuffle in the UK over the idea that there were some policing the boundaries of womanhood.
However, there are other, more positive reasons, and something that I’ll (again) get to in another link, is that along with shared identity comes a sense of community. With things such as sexual orientation, a shared identity and a sense of community can go a long way toward not only increasing one’s one personal comfort, sense of self, and overall health; but also help to advance the sorts of causes that would help benefit many others as well. All that to say that there is benefit to be had from identity. I really think that the link I’ll post next does a much better job of describing that than I every could.
However, at the same time, I can freely admit that there is harm in mislabeling. To identify as something and not be able to be taken seriously for one’s identity (as still happens with bisexuality), or to be labeled by someone else with no chance at recourse is definitely a painful experience. It’s quite nice to be able to specify what you are as best as you are able, even if that means providing one number or letter out of a scale (or, as proposed with the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, twenty-one numbers that, alas, still leave some out) or nothing at all.
I just find it interesting that there is something to be gained from both the restrictive forms of identity such as homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual; as well as from the freer forms out there, or even coming up with something unique. The communities out there such as AVEN, AIB, and the like help to prove the former, and all of our personal comfort help to prove the latter.