What is Pansexuality?
When it comes to defining yourself as an individual, it can be intimidating to learn all of the different gender identities and sexual orientations.
How do you know which ones apply to you? What do they all even mean?
If you’re still exploring the spectrum of sexuality, you’re in for a wild ride, so relax and strap in for an in-depth explanation of pansexuality, understanding what it means to identify as pansexual, and why the identity was created.
The Definition of Pansexuality
The definition of pansexuality, like all sexualities, is hard to quantify. No hard and set definition applies to everyone.
Still, in general terms, “pansexual” refer to someone who can feel romantic and sexual attraction to another person without regard for the other person's gender or sex. Essentially, they are known as "gender-blind" when it comes to any kind of attraction because pansexuals aren’t put off from attraction because of gender alone.
However, some people find the term “gender-blind” to be disrespectful of lived experiences and how gender presentation affects a person's life, so some pansexual people may not describe their experiences with that specific term.
As pansexual, you would be equally attracted to someone who was gay, straight, bisexual, or anything else, in the same way, that you would be attracted to men, women, transgender, or non-binary folks.
The prefix "pan" is Greek for “every” or “all.” Some people have also substituted in the prefix "omni" to make the word omnisexual, which means the same thing as pansexual. Interested etymologists might want to know that "omni" is a Latin term meaning “all,” and is essentially the Latin equivalent to the Greek “pan.”
The first recorded use of the term pansexual comes from a criticism towards early psychology in 1917. The author used the word “pansexualism” to demonstrate that the urge to have sex affects all parts of human behavior or that every human instinct is related to the procreation instinct. As you can see, the word has changed quite a bit through the century.
Some pansexuals would rather date someone of a particular sexuality or gender identity, but that is not because they are any more attracted to those people. The preference may come from what is socially accepted in their family or geographical region or from their past experience in dating.
It should also be noted that just because someone is pansexual does not mean that they are actually attracted to everyone, just that they have the capacity to be. Straight people have preferences between different possible partners and may just not be attracted to someone for other reasons.
Those preferences do not make someone less of a pansexual or require that they find a different label.
We believe that everyone should identify in a way that enhances their comfort when communicating with others, so you should always respect someone's personal label, even if you disagree with their definition.
Why Pansexuality is an Important Identity
Prior to the word pansexual gathering increased use in popular queer vocabulary, the best alternative that people had was the label bisexual.
Bisexuality means that a person can be attracted to both people of their same gender and a different gender.
However, many people object to the term bisexual because it implies that there are only two genders/sexualities available, instead of viewing gender and sexuality as a spectrum. This objection frequently stems from the misunderstanding of what bisexual means. Objectors feel that bisexuals are attracted to both men and women with nothing in between or outside of that. A study in 2017 found that the term pansexual was a more appealing identity for people who do not identify as cisgender because of the term's implicit inclusivity.
For transgender, non-binary, or genderfluid people, that gender binary is the last thing they want to be associated with. The term pansexual, however, fully encompasses everyone within the human race.
Someone who identifies as pansexual is explicitly stating that they can be attracted to someone who is transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, or cisgender. This inclusivity is something that a lot of people take pride in and love about the term pansexual.
As an all-inclusive term, some people have felt that the word pansexual offers a certain amount of freedom to reject the traditional gender binary that the term bisexual does not.
Alternatively, some people enjoy the idea that their attraction, whether sexual or romantic, does not revolve around physical characteristics. Some people find that society's intense focus on the physical aspects is detrimental and would prefer to use a label that puts the focus on the person underneath the skin. You know what they say: beauty is only skin deep.
Many pansexual people do not realize that they are pansexual until later in life. You can see that reflected in some of our coming out stories and blogs that we feature on our website. The reason that pansexuality may be a later in life realization is that the majority of the world views sexual attraction in terms of being straight. It is a symptom of outdated, traditional thinking, as well as the fact that statistically, straight people far outnumber the LGBTQ+ community.
Many pansexual people might spend most of their life thinking that they are straight because they have been attracted to people of a different gender. College and high school are the first times that people do most of their critical thinking about their sexuality and have more freedome to explore their preferences, but some pansexual people can go decades without ever realizing that they might be attracted to other people too.
Every time May 24th rolls around, pansexual people around the world take pride in their identity and celebrate Pansexual and Panromantic Awareness Day together. The holiday was first celebrated in 2015 and continues to be a great way to educate people in the LGBTQ+ community and beyond about the importance of pansexuality as a valid sexual identity.
However you decide to identify, you are describing your unique lived experiences, and you should celebrate yourself!
The Pansexual Flag
The pansexual flag colors are pink, yellow, and blue. The pink represents pansexual attraction to females, the blue represents the attraction to males, and the yellow represents everyone in between.
Pride Palace feels that everyone deserves love and acceptance, no matter who they are or how they choose to identify. The spectrum of gender and sexual identity is wide and welcoming, so know that there is a place for you even if you don’t know quite where yet.