While writing Suzie and the Monsters, I started thinking about sexuality. This was prompted by Cleo’s initial declaration that she doesn’t want a girlfriend and her subsequent passionate love for Suzie. I felt that it wasn’t really sufficient to say she was a confused bisexual teenager. But it could make sense if she were emotionally more attracted to girls, but physically more attracted to boys. Combined with general denial that her desire for close female friendship was unusual (for a strictly heterosexual girl), this would explain her belief in her heterosexuality.
Suzie is thus Juliet to Cleo’s Romeo. Whatever Cleo’s feelings for girls were previously, Suzie’s intense sensuality and outrageous behaviour captivates her. For the first time in her life, Cleo’s romantic and sexual desires concur.
Romantic and sexual orientation are usually aligned, but there are variations and it’s more correct to describe people as, for example, biromantic bisexual (with homoromantic homosexual and heteroromantic heterosexual being opposite ends of the bi- spectrum). And then there are the off-spectrum aromantic asexuals and a wealth of pan-, poly-, demi-, grey-, lith- and even wtf- … -romantic -sexuals.
As a heteroromantic heterosexual male (and I’m not going to start talking here about gender identity) I find it very difficult to understand attraction to men (and nothing ruins a story for me quicker than the sudden appearance of a Christian Grey type) but I can understand it in concept. I can even understand, I think, aromantic asexuals (aces) by imagining myself in a world populated entirely by homoromantic homosexual men.
What I find almost impossible to understand, however, is where the romantic and sexual orientations are not aligned – for example, the idea of being physically attracted to men but emotionally attracted to women.
Cleo is biromantic bisexual, but romantically more attracted to women and sexually more attracted to men, and understandably confused.
And then there’s Nina, who is an aromantic heterosexual (sexyaro). She has sexual needs and desires, but no need for (or understanding of) romance. Nina was conceived in Suzie and the Monsters, but will live beyond it.