These days, BrentOzar.com mostly focuses on the Microsoft data platform. However, you and I have a relationship, dear reader, so I just need to talk about some personal stuff today.
- I’m pansexual, and
- From a data modeling perspective, that’s different from bisexuality
I totally understand if you’re breathing into a paper bag right now, freaked out because that’s a lot to take in. You can close this blog post and come back to it later, or even just close it, hahaha – I understand that it’s a challenging topic.
But if you wanna learn more about me and data modeling, let’s dig in.
Let’s design a data model
for gender and sexuality.
Most of us are aware of two genders: male and female. In terms of data modeling, we might think of it as a bit column, IsFemale. 0 would be male, 1 would be female.
Sure sure, you could do IsMale, and have 0 be female, 1 be male. I’m fine with either definition – I swing both ways. (Brace yourself – the jokes only get worse.) So:
CREATE TABLE dbo.Bloggers(
BloggerId INT IDENTITY(1,1) PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED,
INSERT INTO dbo.Bloggers(BloggerName)
VALUES(N'Brent Ozar', 0);
Then if gender is a bit column, then defining sexuality is pretty easy too. We can’t do it with just a bit flag, but here are the four possibilities:
- Heterosexual: someone is attracted to the “opposite” gender – for example, if you’re a man, you’re attracted to women
- Homosexual: attracted to the “same” gender – for example, if you’re a man, you’re attracted to other men
- Bisexual: attracted to both men and women
- Asexual: not attracted to either (listen, there are days when I want y’all to all die in a fire, especially the days when I read the comments)
We might design it as:
CREATE TABLE dbo.SexualPreferences (
SexualPreferenceId INT IDENTITY(1,1) PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED,
INSERT INTO dbo.SexualPreferences(SexualPreferenceName)
Most data modelers would stop there, and I would understand why. That’s all most of us have been exposed to. If you’re nodding along, that’s fine – you would define me as IsFemale = 0, SexualPreference = Bisexual.
I would totally understand if you said, “Ugh, Brent, this is way too much information,” and you closed the blog post here. I get it. This is an uncomfortable topic. But if you wanna learn about why bit columns don’t work for genders, then we need to keep going.
Gender isn’t really a bit flag.
In about 0.02% to 0.05% of births, the person is born with ambiguous genitals.
I know some readers are gonna rage-quit right there, and I understand. It’s a touchy topic. (No pun intended. (Okay, maybe the pun was intended.)) You’re welcome to do your own research on the intersex topic.
But if we agree that there are any births where it isn’t black-and-white which gender someone is at birth, that opens up a data modeling problem. A simple bit column isn’t going to be enough, because there’s more than just male and female. Gender is non-binary.
Furthermore, as people age, they may find that the bit value they were assigned at birth is wrong. The truth is, your biological sex isn’t carved in stone, but a living system with the potential for change. (I stole that sentence from this Scientific American piece, HT Andy Mallon, and I have so much respect for transgender folks who have to deal with this struggle.)
As a data modeler, it’s not my job to lay out every possible option for gender. I just need to be aware that a bit column isn’t going to cut it, and I’m going to need a lookup table along the lines of:
CREATE TABLE dbo.Gender(
GenderId INT IDENTITY(1,1) PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED,
For the purposes of this blog post, I don’t give a damn what’s in the table. I don’t even care if you define it as:
INSERT INTO dbo.Gender(GenderName)
Even if those were the only 3 options, that’s clear enough that a bit flag isn’t going to cut it.
So if a bit flag isn’t going to cut it, then we’re gonna need more than 4 options for sexual preferences.
Our 4 starting sexual preferences
are still a thing, but there are more.
All of these are still valid:
- Heterosexual can still mean men who are attracted to women, and women who are attracted to men. That’s fine.
- Homosexual can still mean men who are attracted to men, and women who are attracted to women.
- Asexual can still mean people who aren’t sexually attracted to anyone else.
- Bisexual can still mean men attracted to men & women, and women attracted to women & men.
But we’re gonna need more definitions, too, because people who are bisexual aren’t necessarily attracted to people whose gender is in the grey area. We need something like bisexual, but that also means any gender is okay, not just male or female.
That’s pansexual: people who can be sexually attracted to anyone else regardless of their gender – not just men or women, but people who are in the grey area. (I know, before you read this post, you thought bisexual people were open to a lot! Turns out there’s a world in which bisexual people are considered picky, hahaha.)
There are more sexual preferences than that, too. My goal in this post isn’t to define every possible sexual preference – it’s just to remind you that gender is not a bit flag, and the table for sexual preferences has more rows than you might consider at first glance.
gender isn’t a factor for me.
That sounds like I have really low standards, hahaha, like I’m attracted to everything that moves. That couldn’t be further from the truth: I am very, very picky, but I just don’t consider gender as part of the criteria that I look for. I’ve met sexy women, men, transgender folks, and nonbinary folks.
Right now, I’m in a relationship with someone non-binary who was born a man, but is comfortable presenting as either a woman or a man, depending on what they feel like doing that day. Most of the time, they present as a woman.
You might be asking yourself, “Wait, Brent – is that your wife?” No, my wife and I got divorced when we returned from Iceland in 2021.
I’m blogging about my sexuality
for 3 reasons.
First, I wanna be here for folks who are surprised by this. Right now in politics, there’s a lot of divisiveness, a lot of us-versus-them. I know some of my readers are going to be shocked that I’m one of “them”, the sexual deviants who have some kind of agenda. It’s okay – I understand if you’re shocked, and I’m here if you want to talk about it. You can ask me anything you want publicly or privately, and not feel dumb or guilty.
Second, I wanna be here for folks who feel seen. Right now, non-binary, transgender, and pansexual people are reading this blog post going, “OMG, I’m not alone in this industry.” If there’s anything I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Third, because I can. I’m blessed enough to be at the point in my career where I can talk publicly about this stuff without fear of retribution. Oh, retribution is going to happen, for sure – there are readers right now going, “Screw this guy, I’m unsubscribing from this craziness.” That’s fine. I will survive.
But don’t worry,
this blog is still about data.
I don’t want you to think that I’m constantly going to be pushing this in your face, dear reader. The blog is still going to be about databases, and my social media feeds are still going to be about cars and travel and food.
No, I’m not going to hit on you at a conference or a user group. I’ve never done that before, and I’m not about to start now. If you’re worried that I’m looking at you with some kind of ulterior motive, relax. You’re not my type. I’m specifically talking to you, not the other readers here.
The eagle-eyed will notice that I try to use gender-neutral names and terminologies as often as I can. I try to sneak in little fun stories and lessons where it makes sense, and I’m sure I’ll start working in more subtle stuff in demos.
But this blog isn’t going to become some kind of pansexual activism point. The biggest reason is simple: the pansexual pride flag is ugly.
C’mon, seriously, it’s as if someone said, “These pansexuals say they’re okay with anything? Well, let’s see how they feel about THIS, ha ha ho ho!” Ugh.
I know this is complex.
Feel free to ask me questions.
If you want to know more about me, gender in general, or sexuality in general, you’re welcome to post comments here or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check social media today because May 24th is #PansexualVisibilityDay.
I know this topic is very different than the ones we usually discuss here. I will make sure the comments section is a place for honest discussion and learning, free from trolls or abuse.
Update: wanna know what
kinds of messages I got for this?
After publishing this blog post, here’s an example message I got on LinkedIn:
Part of me is honored that y’all think I’m professional.
The other part of me is completely unprofessional, and is surprised that it took you so long to find out.
As a reminder: BrentOzar.com is my blog, not yours. I’m here for a good time. If you’re not here for that, it’s best if you unsubscribe.