Lots of people identify as pansexual, including myself—it’s part of the LGBTQIA+ umbrella and it’s a valid sexuality. Here’s what you should know about it.
Pansexual means “not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.” This definition is from dictionary.com. It means that we’re open to being with all different kinds of people. It means that all of the above doesn’t really matter when it comes to choosing a partner or a lover. The prefix ‘pan’ comes from the Greek term for “all,” as in we’re open to all kinds of sexual and romantic experiences. We date men, women, and non-binary folks.
Pansexuality isn’t as confusing as some people make it out to be. People who’re close-minded don’t even want to break out past LGBT so they invalidate anything else. This is really unfortunate because if they took the time to learn about additional sexualities and gender identities, they’d find it’s really pretty straightforward. It just takes not being a jerk to understand them. Learning about pansexuality means opening your mind to break free of what you think you already know.
It’s not the same as being bisexual. One of the biggest misconceptions about pansexuality is that it’s the same as bisexuality. This isn’t true at all. Bisexual folks are specifically attracted to men and women, often times for their gender presentation too. Pansexual individuals are attracted to everything and everyone. This includes non-binary people and all those other gender non-conforming folks.
It makes more sense than being bisexual to me because it’s gender-inclusive. I used to identify as bisexual because I dated both women and men. Then I began learning more about and meeting trans people who identified as non-binary. If I only date women and men, where does that leave me when I want to date someone who identifies as neither? To me, pansexual is a gender-inclusive sexuality. Many bi people could probably fit under the pan label too.
It’s about connecting with the person, not the gender. One distinct piece of being pansexual is that it’s about connecting with another human being regardless of gender. I’m attracted to all genders, so it doesn’t matter to me what someone is—I’ll see through to the person underneath. This doesn’t mean I’m not attracted to certain gender presentations, but on the whole, the focus is on connecting with the person.
Pansexual doesn’t mean promiscuous. One myth to dispel right now is that pansexual people, just like bisexual people, are often mislabeled as being promiscuous. Some people think that because you’re open to being with more people then you must automatically be with everyone you come across. This isn’t true at all—it just means that you’re attracted to a wider variety of folks, not that you get with more people. This is a pretty ignorant myth.
“Pansexual” as a term has been around for over a decade. The word was originally used by Freud in the early 1900s, but his definition is different than what we now think of pansexuality. The modern term surfaced somewhere in the 1990s, so it’s a fairly new word, at least in its current incarnation. According to Everyday Feminism, it first appeared online in September 2007, just after “genderqueer” debuted.
Some celebrities have come out as pan. It almost always helps the LGBTQIA+ community when someone famous comes out, whether it’s as gay or pansexual. Janelle Monae is no exception. She came out as pan recently and it made many people curious about what it entailed. It stirred up a conversation, which is just what we need.
We even have our own flag! Because pansexuality is legitimate, we have our own pride flag. It’s blue, pink, and yellow striped. It’s been found on various internet sites since mid-2010. For a while, we shared a flag with bisexuality, but no longer. According to Buzzfeed, “The pink represents those who identify within the female spectrum (regardless of biological sex), and the yellow portion, found in between the blue and pink portions, represents non-binary attraction.”
It fits under the term “queer.” If you don’t already know, queer is an umbrella term that refers to different gender identities and sexualities. It encapsulates non-binary and trans as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etc. Often I just identify as queer because it’s easier than identifying as pan. It’s like a one-stop-shop. There’s also a sense of community that comes with the word queer, so it’s a good thing all around.
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