There is more to having a label than you’d think, or is there? How important is a label anyway, and does it matter when it comes to identifying yourself with a particular sexuality?
The entertainment industry, one that we find ourselves indulged in on most days, often feeds us heteronormativity. This usually gets in the way of people exploring their sexualities since they soon start believing that there is only one type of way to live.
Sexuality is actually a spectrum and houses different types of sexualities, all ranging from homosexuality to omnisexuality. This article will discuss one of the more common sexual orientations, pansexuality. Essentially, being pansexual means being attracted to more than one gender. They stand out from people of other sexual orientations who are also attracted to more than one gender because pansexual individuals are considered gender-blind.
What is sexuality?
When people say sexuality is a spectrum, they mean that are multiple different sexual identities and orientations; there is no one or another; there is no right or wrong, and they can not be easily classified. Before discussing the different types of sexual identities, let’s first have a quick rundown of what sexuality means at the surface level.
The term sexuality might often lead people to believe it refers to your sex life, who you’re having sex with, and how often you have it. That is a misconception usually made due to a lack of awareness. Sexuality is about your sexual feelings, attractions, thoughts, and behaviors towards people. Finding someone physically, emotionally, or sexually attractive is part of your sexuality.
Sexuality is diverse and an essential part of who you are, making it highly personal. Figuring out your sexuality is a process; often, it can take years for one to come out, and sometimes even after they do, they might be confused. It is okay if you are unsure about your sexuality; it is confusing and rightfully so. Although there are various terms to describe your sexuality in this time and age, you are under no obligation; you do not have to adopt a label if you do not feel comfortable doing so. Coming to terms with your sexuality can be liberating and exciting; however, it is vital to have a strong support system since it can also be daunting and overwhelming.
What is pansexual?
pansexuality refer to an attraction towards either one or two (at most) genders. Pansexuality falls under being multisexual. Multisexual is essentially an umbrella term for individuals attracted to more than one sex or gender; the attraction can be both sexual or romantic.
A pansexual individual ideally has sexual, romantic, and/or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. They are often referred to as gender-blind individuals because gender is not a factor they consider when developing feelings.
Pansexuality falls under the umbrella term multisexual and is an extension of bisexuality. It may be considered a sexual orientation on its own terms or a branch of bisexuality. The term pansexuality, in some sense, is considered more inclusive since it rejects the gender binary, but it is unclear how inclusive it is compared to the term bisexuality.
Being bisexual and pansexual both mean that you are attracted to more than one gender, so you may ask why they have different terms. To answer that question, it is first important to understand that labels are more often than not used to almost explain your sexuality to another. Identifying with one singular label or trying to place yourself on the spectrum can be quite a task. Therefore, if an individual wants to identify as a bisexual but is attracted to all genders regardless of their sexual orientation, then it is a personal preference and most probably what is best for them.
What is the difference between being pansexual, bisexual, and omnisexual?
Pansexuality, bisexuality, and omnisexuality all essentially have the same definition–being attracted to more than one gender. Although these terms are all interchangeably used, they technically mean different things based on the label itself. A bisexual is supposedly attracted to two genders– hence the bi; a pansexual is attracted to all genders, and an omnisexual is also attracted to all genders. “So, what is the difference between all these sexualities?” you might ask; let’s try to break them down separately to understand better.
Bisexual vs Pansexual
Technically speaking, a bisexual is attracted to two genders, and a pansexual is attracted to all genders. However, this definition doesn’t stand true for everyone who identifies with these labels. As mentioned, labels are only just used for ease of explanation; they don’t necessarily have to be something an individual completely identifies with. For instance, if an individual who is bisexual is attracted to more than two genders but feels more comfortable being identified as bisexual, then that is a choice they will be making. So, essentially, there is no difference between a bisexual and a pansexual, except for the technicalities that follow their labels.
Omnisexual vs Pansexual
The critical difference between an omnisexual and a pansexual is the recognition of gender. Pansexuals are considered gender-blind; gender doesn’t affect their attraction. They essentially look at every individual and are attracted to everyone in the same manner; an omnisexual, on the other hand, is not gender-blind per se. They still see gender as part of how they are attracted to someone. The strength of attraction to each gender varies for an omnisexual but doesn’t for a pansexual. These individuals can be monogamous, polyamorous, and at times aromantic. The status of their relationship has nothing in relation to their sexual orientation.
While figuring out your sexuality, it is possible that you might’ve looked up questions or signs that give you a sense of your sexual orientation. The kind of questions that come up will either clarify what you might identify as or send you down spiraling; either way, it will give you something to think about.
If you think you might be pansexual, here are a few questions worth thinking about
- What do you want the most in life?
- I have been in a relationship or would like to be in a relationship with a person of a different sexual orientation
- Are you attracted to people of the opposite sex?
- Which color do you choose: pink or black?
- Do you accept who you are?
- Are you attracted to people of the same sex?
- What’s your gender?
- Are you attracted to one sex more than the other?
- Which gender do you get on better with?
- Do you have gay or bisexual friends?
- Do you treat everyone the same, regardless of gender or orientation?
- Choose the word that suits you best: different, weird, better, worse.
How do I know if I’m pansexual?
As a pansexual, you might be attracted to more than one gender. If you find yourself falling for people of all genders and sexual orientations, chances are you might be pansexual. If your attraction to an individual is not affected by their gender, or in other terms, if you do not consider one’s gender, you might be pansexual.
Are pansexuals attracted to animals?
No, pansexuals are not attracted to animals. They are attracted to all genders of the human race only. Attraction to animals is often labeled as zoophilia and may or may not result from a psychological condition.
What are a pansexual’s pronouns?
Your sexual orientation has nothing to do with your pronouns. A pansexual individual can be a she/her, a he/him, a they/them, or any of the other variations. Sexuality is related to your attraction, and your pronouns are related to who you want to identify as.
How do you tell if you’re polysexual or pansexual?
An individual who identifies as a polysexual is attracted to more than one gender, either/or both romantically and sexually. Pansexuality is when the individual is attracted to all genders, and gender doesn’t affect their attraction or how they feel about their partner. Although both of these labels seem to be similar, what you would want to identify with, will always be a personal choice. You do not have to conform to any label rigidly.
Sexuality is a spectrum; it is often hard to categorize each of these sexualities definitively. It can therefore be highly confusing, and coming to terms with your sexuality can be an experience that carries mixed emotions. You could feel liberated, overwhelmed, and sometimes even scared. It is important to have a support system to lean on so you do not have to walk this path alone. Having a support system doesn’t necessarily mean family or friends; you can find various support groups on the internet that will help guide you through this journey.
Pansexuality is defined as an attraction to more than two genders; however, as a pansexual, your attraction will not be affected based on gender. You are essentially considered gender-blind.
If you are struggling with your sexuality, do get in touch with a therapist for more guidance, and remember that you, your experiences, and your sexuality are validated, and you are not alone.