The LGBTQIA+ community is vast—it includes a plus sign for a reason. Identities that have never been represented or celebrated before are now making their way into the cultural conversation. More and more diversified identities have surfaced throughout time and better aid queer individuals to have accurate representation. Terms like demisexual, asexual and pansexual (to name a few) have positively expanded sexual and romantic identity and yet are not celebrated in the mainstream. One of those underrepresented is abrosexuality. Here’s everything you need to know.
Abrosexuality is a term used to define an individual’s sexuality that is fluid or often in flux. This meaning is derived from its namesake the Greek word ‘abro’—derived from the ancient Greek word and translating to ‘delicate’—the term has come to symbolise the constant flow of movement and change in abrosexual people. The core of the identity is that a person’s sexuality changes throughout their life.
For example, an abrosexual individual may be sexually or romantically attracted to men for a period of time and then perhaps not some weeks later; the intensity of that attraction also varies. It is important to note that there is no one definitive timeline to which these changes occur. This flux of attraction could change over days, weeks, months or even years for some abrosexual people. It really just depends on the person.
The actual attractions also vary from person to person. Gay Times writes that “some may be fluid between all or a vast number of different sexualities and for others, it might not be as many. For example, one individual may only fluctuate between gay, pansexual and asexual, while another can fluctuate between them all. Also, the intensity of the attraction or the way someone feels attraction could change, too.”
In the process of researching this breakdown, Screen Shot spoke to users of the subreddit r/Abrosexual (which hosts over 1,600 members) to discuss some of the misconceptions and hardships abrosexual people often face. One member, oliviakim_3874, explained that abrosexuality’s validity, as being its own identity, is often reduced by the comparisons that are made to other sexualities, “Some people say all sexualities are fluid or [that] we’re just pansexual.”
Another user, Asexual_Rock, also disclosed that, “Abrosexuality would fall under the pansexual umbrella, but pansexuality is being attracted to every gender at once. Abrosexuality is a shifting sexuality, and while you can shift pansexual, some people can be ‘triabrosexual’; meaning they only shift between three sexualities and may not shift pansexual.”
Abrosexuality is a sexual identity that differs from that of pansexuality; individuals who are pansexual are those who find attraction in all people regardless of their gender, identity or sexuality. Unlike pansexual people, an abrosexual’s attraction is in flux—they have moments in their lives where they are pansexual but also times where they are not. They may even be heterosexual for a period and then asexual. It changes—this is what defines them.
Asexual_Rock explained to Screen Shot “several misconceptions, one being that ‘abrosexuality is just a fluid bisexual identity’. This is not true—abro people can shift aromantic or asexual—which is not bisexual (unless you’re abroromanitc or abrosexual and aromantic).” Oliviakim_3874 continued, “We have a specific name [because] having a fluid sexuality is not the same [as] other sexualities.”
This can create some hardships for abrosexual people, “If your orientation changes abruptly and you don’t have a specific fixed sexuality… it would be hard to have a relationship if your romantic orientation is abrosexual too.” Asexual_Rock felt the same, “It’s difficult to to find anyone who can understand abrosexuality. You may find someone you love, but since we have shifting sexualities, we may fall out of love with that one person.”
User bestiedrinksomewater divulged to Screen Shot that “finding people who accept you and don’t judge you for being who you are has been quite the struggle for me personally. More awareness [would] mean fewer people feeling as if they are not valid or alone.”
Society’s misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of the identity is why oliviakim_3874 also believes true representation to be important, “All sexualities are equal and so is abrosexuality. It should deserve more awareness like other ones too.” The term and its accompanying five-colour flag—both thought to have originated on DeviantArt in 2013 and later becoming popular on Tumblr—is “just as important as heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality etc. Basically we are all of these identities…we are human as well, we are kind of left out of the community,” Asexual_Rock writes.
LGBTQIA+ representation is fundamental, especially during Pride Month, as it can have a powerful impact in terms of influencing ideas and attitudes towards the community. While putting queer and trans people at the forefront is one way of championing the many voices of the community, it is also crucial for those same voices to be celebrated—not only for who they are today, but for the journey they embarked upon to express their identity.
That’s the exact message Calvin Klein is amplifying this Pride 2021 through a continuation of its renowned #ProudInMyCalvins campaign, which lets you learn from some of the biggest influences of today’s LGBTQIA+ community as they look back on the transformative events that shaped their lives.
Over the years, Calvin Klein has put great effort into championing the LGBTQIA+ community and advocating for its rights. Unlike other brands who have been called out for only doing so once June’s Pride Month comes along, Calvin Klein is known to partner with multiple non-profit organisations in support of LGBTQIA+ advocacy, equality, and safety—not for one month, but throughout the year.
This year, the brand has rounded up an impressive cast of LGBTQIA+ talents—both on-camera and behind the scenes—to bring their stories to the world, celebrating the defining moments of each of their personal journeys. Calvin Klein worked with acclaimed LGBTQIA+ photographers Gorka Postigo Breedveld, Matt Lamb, Ryan McGinley, Campbell Addy, Collier Schorr and Vivi Bacco who in turn captured eight queer and trans cultural leaders in a video series reflecting on the pivotal moments in their lives.
While each of the cast stands out for their highly individual background and rare talent, they are all united in their shared passion for—and impact on—the LGBTQIA+ community. These include Venezuelan musician Arca, electronic musician Honey Dijon, spoken word poet and activist Kai Isaiah-Jamal, singer-songwriter King Princess, actor and singer Isaac Cole Powell, make-up artist Raisa Flowers, visual artist Samuel de Saboia and Elite star Omar Ayuso.
Venezuelan, Barcelona-based musician, singer, composer, record producer, and DJ Arca has released four studio albums and has contributed production work to artists such as Björk, Kanye West, FKA twigs, Kelela, and Frank Ocean. Arca came out as non-binary in 2018, later adding that she identifies as a trans woman, and goes by the pronouns she/her.
In 2020, in an interview for i-D, she stated, “I see my gender identity as non-binary, and I identify as a trans Latina woman, and yet, I don’t want to encourage anyone to think that my gayness has been banished. And when I talk about gayness, it’s funny because I’m not thinking about who I’m attracted to. It’s a form of cultural production that is individual and collective, which I don’t ever want to renounce.”
In Calvin Klein’s new #ProudInMyCalvins campaign, Arca shares the story of the first time she gave herself permission to cruise—meaning: to visit a place in search of a sexual partner.
“Something about the magnetism in the air that day made it possible for me to have the courage to come up to him. In that moment of connection, I felt a vitality. I felt free of doubt and elated.”
Honey Dijon has been a vocal advocate for trans rights and awareness, speaking from her experience as a black trans woman DJ in dance music. Referring to a moment in “1990-something,” she speaks about a time where she went out with a friend in New York and met another trans woman: “She saw me and said to me, ‘you belong in a skirt’ and it was the first time in my life that someone had seen me before I saw myself. I felt light, happy, I felt warm, loved, seen and accepted.”
In their video for Calvin Klein, titled The Moment: transition 2.0, poet, activist and model Kai Isaiah-Jamal shares about their experience as a trans person of colour.
“I’ll never forget it. I call it my transition 2.0. Being able to step back into femininity and celebrate that glory…where once those things would have been really triggering. I felt weightless and free.”
The singer, songwriter and producer from Brooklyn, New York, quickly rose to fame after her debut single ‘1950’, released in 2018. It was through her mother, who worked in fashion, that she first found her LGBTQIA+ family. For King Princess—real name Mikaela Straus—the moment she shed light on was when she first felt lucky to be gay, “I started to realise that I was part of this tapestry of queer people that have made really powerful, moving work. When I realised that, everything made sense.”
Similar to Arca, Isaac Cole Powell had his moment through a personal encounter. Powell’s happened in 2010, when he found himself alone with someone he was very attracted to. “I kept waiting for him to do it,” he says. “My hand just crept down my thigh, waiting for it to brush up against him. And then it finally did, and it was like electricity. My whole body was flashing colours.”
“I just knew there was no going back from that feeling, I was forever changed in that moment because I finally knew what it felt like to touch another boy.”
Beyond her impeccable make-up looks, Raisa Flowers is also a fierce advocate for representation of all types in the fashion industry. “She’s been vocal about the pushback she’s received as a plus-size, black and queer makeup artist and works hard to ensure inclusivity for all types of bodies and faces,” writes Elle.
In her #ProudInMyCalvins video, titled The Moment: I Didn’t Care, Flowers explains how she learned to channel her inner-power through teenage rebellion after shaving her head while attending Catholic school. “My principal was like, ‘We need to watch her because she’s going to be wild’,” she recalls. “I felt like a badass.”
Calvin Klein also travelled to Brazil to link up with bisexual Afro-Indigenous Brazilian artist Samuel de Saboia. Sharing his own defining moment, de Saboia recalls, “I never kissed a guy till that moment. Heart pumping. Like, I could literally see my chest just moving.”
“My parents are preachers. So, once I got back home at the end of the day, my parents already had a photo of me kissing this guy. I just felt so hurt by the idea that someone would look at another person and feel entitled to change and mess up their whole life. Within one week, I packed my bags and went to São Paulo. And everything started,” adds de Saboia.
Spanish actor Omar Ayuso, best known for his role as Omar Shanaa on the Netflix series Elite, felt affirmed simply by admitting who he truly was to both himself and to the people around him. In his video, Ayuso admits how scared he was when he first came out to his mother in 2013, “I came out of the closet when I was 15. And to begin with, I told a couple of female friends, but what I remember was when I told my mother. I thought she would be shocked and make some big scene or get really mad… Not at all, quite the opposite.”
“When I could finally be who I was and had nothing to hide, which I can tell you was only in part because I still find it hard today, I felt calm and at peace because you’re no longer living with the fear or anguish that people around you will reject you.”
They say ‘life is about the journey, not the destination,’ and although it would be naive to undermine the freedom that comes with embracing who you always knew yourself to be, in order to truly learn from each other’s experiences, it is also necessary for us to look back on the events that led up to this precise moment.
Along with uplifting the vibrant members of the queer community by celebrating those transformative moments of queer affirmation, Calvin Klein has also reimagined some of its iconic styles in fun Pride-appropriate colourways for its Pride 2021 capsule collection—from Calvin Klein Underwear staples like bralettes and jockstraps and Calvin Klein Jeans pieces like trucker jackets and cropped vests to accessories like bags, hats, and eyewear.
Because the brand knows that actions speak louder than words, it has also announced a two-year partnership with The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning young people. Through this partnership, Calvin Klein will use its platform to increase the knowledge of The Trevor Project’s essential 24/7 crisis services and other mental health resources to help promote wider inclusion for the LGBTQIA+ community.
In addition, the brand supports ILGA World’s work as the global voice for the LGBTQIA+ rights of those who face discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and/or sex characteristics.
Learn more about the campaign and shop Calvin Klein’s Pride 2021 collection here.
Isaac Cole Powell
Samuel de Saboia