Janelle Monae, Brendon Urie, Bella Thorne, Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevingne, Roes: this is the line up for a festival we’d camp out for. Also, all these celebs have all been open about their pansexuality.
As more people learn about pansexuality, more people are sharing how gender does (or doesn’t) affect their sexual attraction. But, what is pansexuality and how does it differ from bisexuality? We’ll explain.
What is Pansexuality?
“Pansexuality is defined as feeling sexual, romantic, or emotional attractions towards others regardless of their gender identity,” says Saba Harouni Lurie, licensed therapist and owner of Take Root Therapy.
“The prefix ‘pan’ means all, so individuals that identify as pansexual may feel attracted to people across the gender spectrum, including people that identify as agender or nonbinary.” As David from Schitt’s Creek explained, pansexuality is loving the wine, not the label.
What’s the Difference Between Bisexuality and Pansexuality?
“Generally, bisexuality means ‘attraction to two or more genders’ and pansexuality means ‘attraction to all genders’ or ‘attraction regardless of gender,’” explains CJ Higgins, queer educator and host of the My Gay Agenda podcast.
“A bisexual person might be attracted to many but not all genders, or they might see gender as a factor in choosing a partner.”
At the end of the day, each person picks the label that feels right to them. No enforcers from the alphabet mafia are coming to tell you you’re using the wrong label. But if you try to take away their iced coffee, you may be sleeping with the fishes.
Is Pansexuality Part of the LGBTQIA+ community?
“Pansexuality is absolutely part of the LGBTQIA+ community!” says Higgins. The acronym is always being updated, but there isn’t a new letter for every new gender or sexuality identity. Sometimes different identities end up under a single umbrella term.
“Especially since it shares so many similarities with bisexuality, many people regard the B in the acronym to include pansexuality,” says Higgins. “There will never be an acronym that has every single letter of every single identity, but pansexual people are definitely members of the queer community, even if a P never makes it in the acronym.”
Ok, Fair. But Does it At Least Have Its Own Flag?
Though it falls under the bisexual umbrella, the pansexual community has its own flag and symbol. The pansexual flag has a pink stripe to represent attraction to women, a yellow stripe to represent attraction to non-binary people, and a blue stripe to represent attraction to men.
Is this the cover of a new posthumous Prince album? Unfortunately, no. This is the symbol for pansexuality, which is just as cool (well, almost as cool). It’s a combination of the symbols for Venus and Mars — you know, men are from Mars, women are from Venus. And that one teacher from fourth grade was actually from Pluto.
Do Pansexual People Want to Have Sex with Everybody?
This is a question pansexual (and bisexual) people get a lot and, honestly, yikes. Pansexuality describes who you are attracted to, not who you decide to have sex with. “The misconception that bi/pan people are promiscuous is a manifestation of homophobia and purity culture,” says Higgins.
How I Know I’m If I’m Pansexual?
“If you’re wondering if you’re pansexual, I would encourage you to be curious about what attraction looks like to you and who you feel attracted to,” says Lurie.
“We are constantly evolving and changing, and how we identify can change too. If you find that you’re attracted to people across the gender spectrum, then you may identify as pansexual.”
Ask yourself: what attracts you to someone: Is it their gender presentation? Is it there masculine, feminine, or androgynous energy? Is it how they can perfectly rap Nicki Minaj’s verse from Monster? If what attracts you to someone isn’t related to gender or happens with any gender, you may be pansexual.
But don’t get too bogged down in choosing the perfect label. “At the end of the day, labels are personal, not prescriptive,” says Higgins. “Choose the label that feels best for you, even if that means not having a label at all!”
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