I’ve been waiting for a burst of inspiration on the best way to approach this post. When I wrote my #Finding Fearless article on my pansexuality I briefly touched on the definition, but there were so many small points I wanted to mention that didn’t seem to fit in that story. So, I figured in honor of #Fearless’s first Pride Week, I’d go ahead and elaborate a little more on the points I didn’t get to mention before.
Some of these points, while aimed specifically at pansexuality (because there’s not a lot out there in the ways of information) can be applicable to anyone in the LGBTQ+ community.
Disclaimer: All information that I put into this article is either based on research I have done, or my own personal experiences. All I can do is talk from that perspective, so please leave me a comment if you feel that I got something wrong, or you would like to help explain something better that I did!
What is pansexuality? Pansexuality (also known as omnisexuality) literally means an attraction to all genders. Many pansexuals may tell you that they are gender blind, meaning that gender does not play a role in their ability to start a relationship. When I say I’m pansexual, I mean I’m gender blind. When I fall for someone, their gender and what they identify as has no bearing on my ability to maintain a relationship; their heart, soul and being do. Your personality plays a bigger role, to me, than your gender or sexuality.
I’ve liked a gay guy (to be fair, I didn’t realize he was gay until he told me, but I still really liked him even after he told me), straight girls, and everything in between. Most of those crushes didn’t go very far, but my attraction knew no bounds. I’m currently in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful man, but him being a man is not why I love him. I love him because he is amazing and he makes me feel loved, appreciated and so darn happy. His gender and identity have nothing to do with it, and that realization was how I discovered my pansexuality.
What is panromantic, is it the same as pansexual? Can I be panromantic and have a different sexual identity? Panromantic means that you can form an romantic attraction to any gender, identity or sexuality, but not a sexual attraction to any gender, identity or sexuality. Romance, in this context, stops prior to a sexual attraction; you typically will not feel as if you can have sexual feelings towards someone, and usually involves more of who you may be attracted to from an emotional level. So, in simpler terms: no, panromantic is not the same as pansexuality.
Many panromantics (or any identifying romantic identities) may find that kissing, hand holding, and other typical romantic gestures come with panromantic. It’s all about who you fall in love with, not who you feel you can have a sexual attraction to. Romance and sexual attraction typically come hand in hand, but it is not always a “one leads to the other” situation. Romantic attractions and sexual attractions can and do exist individually.
Many people who have a defined romantic identity typically have varying sexual identities. I personally Identify as pan from both a romantic and a sexual level, but many people do identify as panromantic and asexual, demisexual, bisexual and more!
How is pansexuality different than bisexuality? Bisexuality is the sexual attraction to two or more genders; it can also be defined as the attraction to the opposite gender and another one that isn’t necessarily the same gender. However, to me, the biggest distinction is that bisexuals typically have very specific gender preferences, whereas pansexuals typically don’t. This isn’t always the case, but in most of my discussions with other pans and bisexuals, that seems to be the biggest difference.
Can bisexuality and pansexuality be used interchangeably? My personal take on this is that panseuxality and bisexuality are quite different, and it’s not something I would use in place of the other. Some people do use them interchangeably, and I think there could be many reasons for why that is, but I don’t personally believe they should be used as the same identity!
If pansexuals are gender blind and prefer personality, doesn’t that actually make them demisexual? No! Demisexuals require a deep, emotional bond to become sexually attracted to someone. This means that demisexuals usually will not be sexually active in a relationship if they don’t feel they have the right connection. Pansexuals, while they don’t focus on gender and focus more heavily on personality, don’t usually require a strong emotional connection to start a sexual relationship and while it could be different for any one, I personally had no problems feeling sexually attracted to people without a strong emotional bond.
I think I’m pansexual but I don’t know because I’ve only dated people of the opposite gender. Do I have to date every gender to call myself pan? Absolutely not! Trust how you feel, because who you date has no bearing on how you identify. I’ve only ever dated men (and messed around with one woman) but I know I’m pansexual. How? Because who I am is undeniable, I just had to accept it at all levels. Don’t let someone ever tell you that being pan, bi, ace, etc. is something defined by what you have or haven’t done. If you know in your heart that you are pan, trust that feeling.
I’m dating someone who is pansexual. Are they more likely to cheat? The short answer is no – pansexuality doesn’t impact your partners loyalty levels. Of course, I can’t speak for your significant other, but pansexuals are no more likely to cheat than anyone else. Just because we could fall for anyone, doesn’t mean we can or will (or that our attraction will be reciprocated by who we fall for). My advice is, trust your partner, and if they cheat it’s not because they’re pansexual or otherwise, it’s because they are a terrible human being and you deserve better. Okay, that’s not a fair assumption to make because I don’t know them, but I mean… most people who cheat probably aren’t good people to begin with.
I want to come out as pansexual, any suggestions on how to do that? Whether it’s pansexual or otherwise, there are two things you should consider before coming out, whether that’s as pansexual or otherwise:
- Your personal safety
- Your personal comfort level
My whole list should just be consider your personal safety, because it’s the most important. If you feel as if coming out could potentially get you hurt, abandoned or otherwise emotionally/verbally/mentally abused, please don’t come out until you are in a safe place or have a plan in place to keep you safe. Coming out should not be something that puts you in immediate danger, and while we should all feel safe and comfortable to be out and our true selves, if that could result in your injury or worse, please try to wait until safety can be obtained or is obtained.
Being proud of who you are does not have to equate to being out. You can be closeted and still proud of your identity; but if you feel as if staying in the closet could be more harmful to you than coming out, all I ask is that you have a plan in place. Find a supportive friend, family member, co-worker, someone, who can help you be safe in the event that your family/friends aren’t supportive.
The second point is your personal comfort level. Before you come out, it can be important to make sure you are internally comfortable with this realization. I know for me, I spent many months just get comfortable with realizing I was pansexual before I even attempted to break the news publicly. I came out to a few friends that I trusted, and that was so hard. There was a lot of nerves and worry that they wouldn’t like me anymore. But as I got more comfortable with being pan, and ultimately telling people about what that meant, answering their questions, etc., my comfort level also went up.
Be prepared for questions, both innocent and ignorant, and be able to answer them (or don’t, I guess it’s a free country and it’s your identity. You don’t have to do anything!). If you need the practice, find a couple safe spaces on Facebook (LGBTQ+ groups for example) to come out to first. I found that when I first started getting comfortable with my identity, voicing it to a group of people who just got me was a huge help. Then, find a couple close friends who are allies to come out to, even if they aren’t someone you speak with regularly. Then, when you’re ready, come out to those who matter, and finally? Publicly (if you feel safe, that is).
Do I have to label myself? Why can’t we just accept who we are without the extra baggage? You absolutely don’t have to label yourself, and many people feel that same way! Just feel how you feel, and don’t stress about figuring out the label if you don’t want to. For me, having a label meant I could appropriately understand and accept a part of me that I hadn’t been able to understand for so long. But, the label itself doesn’t really change how I feel, it just allowed me to find out more information and reach out to people who are also pansexual.
I’m in a committed relationship and/or older, but I just realized how I feel is pansexuality. Is it worth coming out? That has to be your decision, but the same rules apply here as they do if you are coming out earlier on or as a single person. Be smart, be safe and weigh whether or not you feel that coming out is going to help you be a better version of yourself. Realizing your pansexual late in life (or even well past the days of being able to explore it) sometimes feels strange. You are coming into a part of you that, while there likely most of your life, has finally burst from behind the seams. You’re officially navigating this self discovery process in a much more overwhelming way than if you started discovering it younger or before you were in a committed relationship. In the end, you have to be happy, and if you can accept who you are without coming out, you don’t have to. If you think that being open and honest, as well as labeling your sexuality, is going to be beneficial to you and your relationship, so be it! Your decision has to be weighed on how safe you feel and what you feel will make you happiest, and I can’t decide that for you!
I hope that this has been helpful to you in understanding more about panseuxality, or just commonly asked questions in general. Being pansexual is still something I’m navigating, but I love being open and sharing this information to help others. Got a question you want to ask that we left out here? Leave it in the comments!
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