So, pansexuality. It’s a bit of a scary word, right? Some of you may be thinking, “What kind of hippie bullshit is this?”
Take a deep breath, my lovelies, and listen to the hilarious and articulate Laci Green on this subject.
For those of you unable to watch the video, I’ll summarize her main points, and add some personal commentary and a few points of my own.
Pansexuality does not mean a sexual attraction to frying pans. But you all knew that…right?
Pansexuality does mean the potential attraction to people of all gender identities and expressions. I have been attracted to people who are cis, trans*, genderqueer, agender– the list could go on. How they define themselves in their minds is certainly a part of them, and therefore may be part of what I find attractive in them. However, I’m never going to find myself madly attracted to someone only to lose all feelings of attraction when I discover their sex, gender identity, biological sex at birth, etc. It’s just not a deciding factor for me.
Pansexual does not mean being attracted to everyone. But Kate, you say. You just said… Actually, my dears, what I said was that I can feel attraction to people of all gender identities and expressions, not that I feel attraction to everyone. Does every heterosexual man feel attracted to all women? Of course not. I think many of these misconceptions often stem from discomfort about one’s own sexuality, since a moment of reflection on the nature of attraction would resolve many of these misconceptions.
Pansexuality vs. Bisexuality: “We define labels. Labels do not define us.” – Laci Green. Some people like to define pansexuality as being attracted to all gender identities and bisexuality as being attracted to two gender identities. Bisexuality is sometimes associated with being attracted to the two traditional sides of the gender binary: for example, being attracted solely to cisgender men and cisgender women. Other supporters of the term say that bisexuality essentially means pansexuality; that the term has expanded to become more inclusive over the years. I have come out to people as bisexual because explaining “traditional” bisexuality can be a great stepping stone to later explaining the somewhat more fluid connotations of pansexuality. However, I don’t really consider bisexuality to be a completely accurate label for myself, so after a season of trying it on, I decided to move on to pansexuality. But maybe you feel like pansexuality implies a broader range of potential attraction than you feel. That’s OK. Maybe bisexuality will work for you. Or maybe you’ll come up with a different label entirely! Or maybe you’ll switch back and forth between a few labels over the course of your life. Maybe you’ll never settle down with any labels! All of this is completely fine. You do you, my friend.
Pansexuality does not mean polysexuality, polyamory or polygamy. “Poly” means “many,” and “pan” means “all.” Polysexuality is the attraction to multiple gender identities and expressions. Polyamory is the desire to have more than one intimate or sexual relationship at once. Polygamy is the marriage to more than one person. Of these three, pansexuality is closest to polysexuality, although there is still the distinction between “all” and “many.” Pansexuality and monogamy do not have to be mutually exclusive. Pansexuality does not imply a need for orgies or multiple romantic and sexual relationships at the same time. (Again, many heterosexual people are quite capable or desirous of orgies or polyamorous behavior.)
Pansexuality does not imply bestiality, pedophilia, object sexuality, or sextraterrestriality. Google tells me I have invented the last word, which I will now define as “the attraction to extraterrestrials.” Example: Captain Jack Harkness. The Whoniverse version, not the Queer PHC contributor. All jokes aside, the fact that “pan” means “all” does not mean that I am attracted to literally everyone and everything. So far, despite my deeply depraved state, I have managed to refrain from boning squirrels and that slutty Eiffel Tower (I can’t even make a joke about pedophilia, because, just no.) A pansexual person is not more inclined to engage in these behaviors than a heterosexual person.
What are your thoughts about pansexuality? Did I miss any misconceptions? Let me know in a comment.