Chances are, you're familiar with celebrities like Janelle Monáe, Bella Thorne, Miley Cyrus, Asia Kate Dillon, Brendon Urie, Tess Holliday, and Jazz Jennings. These prominent figures have made headlines by publicly identifying as pansexual. But what exactly is pansexuality, and how does it differ from bisexuality or other LGBTQ+ identities?
1. Pansexuality vs. Bisexuality: A Nuanced Distinction
The term "pansexuality" and "bisexuality" are occasionally used interchangeably, as some individuals embrace both labels to describe their sexual orientation. However, the prefix "pan-" denotes "all," signifying that pansexuality encompasses attraction to individuals of all genders, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation. On the other hand, bisexuality, while often thought to involve attraction to two genders (men and women), does not inherently adhere to binary definitions of gender and sexuality. Many individuals use both pansexual and bisexual labels depending on context, and some even adopt "queer" to describe themselves.
2. Pansexual Attraction: It's Not About Everyone
Contrary to a common myth, pansexuality does not equate to an attraction to every person one encounters. Pansexual individuals possess the potential to be attracted to people across the gender spectrum, but this doesn't imply an indiscriminate attraction to all. Just as straight women aren't attracted to every man they meet, pansexuality involves individual preferences and compatibility.
3. A Not-So-New Term
Pansexuality is not a recent neologism. In fact, it has been in existence since at least the early 1900s, initially as a psychological term relating to the primary motivator of human behavior, which is sexual desire. The contemporary definition of pansexuality emerged in the late 1960s. The concept of attraction unbound by binary gender constructs has a long history, and it is gaining wider acceptance today.
4. Pansexuality vs. Polyamory: Not One and the Same
While many pansexual individuals may also identify as polyamorous, it's crucial to differentiate between the two. Pansexuality pertains to the gender of those one is attracted to, whereas polyamory involves the capacity and commitment to form romantic and/or sexual relationships with multiple partners. Being pansexual doesn't inherently make someone polyamorous, and not all polyamorous individuals are pansexual.
5. Prevalence of Pansexuality: More Common Than You Think
Contrary to misconceptions, pansexuality is not a rare orientation. In the United States, bisexuality is on the rise, with more people self-identifying as such and engaging in relationships with multiple genders. As awareness of nonbinary identities grows, it's reasonable to anticipate that pansexuality will become increasingly prevalent in society.
In conclusion, understanding pansexuality is about recognizing its distinctions, dispelling myths, and appreciating its place in the diverse landscape of human sexuality. It's a concept that has evolved over time and is gaining traction as society becomes more inclusive and open-minded.