What’s A Tiny Kinsey Scale, Anyway?


Image Credit: Flickr/LGBTQ History Museum Moni3/WikimediaCommons


So what exactly is a “tiny Kinsey Scale?” I’m so glad you asked.


Forty-five years before I was born, in 1948, a sexologist named Alfred Kinsey published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, a scholarly book on human sexual behaviour that was controversial at the time. Through his research, Kinsey found that sexuality in humans was more varied than what was officially being taught. He found that sexuality fell on a spectrum from completely heterosexual to completely homosexual with a lot of grey area in between. This spectrum is called The Kinsey Scale.


I was born in 1993 to parents who thought the name Kinsey was a good fit for their new baby girl. The name derives from two Old English words that roughly translates to “royal victory” or “king’s victory.” To date, I haven’t met another Kinsey in-person.


Like a lot of people with uncommon names, I searched for it unsuccessfully on keychains, mugs, and other souvenirs growing up -- especially during vacation. I’d given up hope that I’d find it by my preteen years, until a bathroom break at a rest stop during one of those family vacations brought me face to face with a DVD that had my name across the top in large, red block letters: KINSEY. Underneath it read, “Let’s talk about sex.” I’d just found the 2004 biopic about Alfred Kinsey’s research starring Liam Neeson as the sexologist, and it felt like the DVD was speaking directly to me. Thrilled, I picked it up and read the summary on the back, glancing over my shoulder to make sure I wouldn’t get caught with the contraband.


As quickly as I picked it up, I heard one of my parents calling for me and I returned the DVD to its original spot. The family road trip continued. Life continued, but the knowledge that there was something out there with my name on it – a movie – stayed with me.


For years, I thought about those red letters and wondered about their implications: why was my name synonymous with sex and what did it mean for me? I wondered if it was an open joke everyone else was in on. But because of a strict religious upbringing, I wasn’t able to research the details of the Kinsey Scale until a decade later when I stepped into my own identity as a lesbian, around my senior year of college. By then I’d figured out that there was no global conspiracy surrounding my name, though it did make for clever social media branding.


So, that’s what I did: I was small, newly out, and looking for a witty way to convey a bit of my personality into my online presence. tinykinseyscale (punctuation intentional) is my interpretation of a quirky coming of age story, 70 years of human sexual behaviour research that I share a name with and also happen to fall on, and being of small stature, all rolled into 15 letters behind an @-symbol on the internet.


And that, as they say, is history.