Eurovision 2021 aired mere days ago and while they may not have won, Iceland’s entry Daði Freyr and his band Gagnamagnið captured everyone’s hearts. This love was solidified for many as band members were pictured waving the pansexual flag in all its pink, yellow and cyan glory. After years of struggling with my sexuality, in 2021, I came out as pansexual. I had quietly identified as heteroflexible, queer and bisexual throughout my adolescence but finally came to the realisation (at 2 am during a sleepless night in lockdown 2.0) that pansexuality felt right.
My coming out story is nothing of merit, I messaged my friends and thankfully received messages of love back. If you weren’t one of those friends, or you’re a family member, I suppose this is me coming out once again, very publicly… surprise! However, one thing became abundantly clear in the course of me expressing my sexuality – people are not as familiar with pansexuality as other sexualities. Two questions cropped up multiple times – “what is pansexuality?” and “how is pansexuality different to bisexuality?” So naturally, Pansexuality Visibility Day seems a good time to discuss what it actually is.
Ever reliable, Wikipedia defines pansexuality as “sexual or romantic attraction to people regardless of gender.” Everyone inevitably falls for the person, no matter how you identify, but sexualities tend to rely on the other person’s gender in your own expression. For people who identify as pansexual, there is no preference or reliance on this. It is like being gender blind in your love life.
Of course, it is almost impossible to talk about pansexuality without mention of the closely linked bisexuality. The two are often conflated and confused. Pansexual people are even sometimes accused of biphobia due to the crossover. Some members of the bi community feel that pansexuality is born out of the assumption that “bi” means two, therefore bisexuality excludes transgender and non-binary people. This is largely not true, the queer community understands that identifying as bi is not inherently the exclusion of non-cis-gendered people. Robyn Och, a bisexual activist, defined bisexuality as “the potential to be attracted to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.” This highlights the key difference in how bisexual people experience their sexuality – they describe a preference for genders, those who identify as pansexual don’t have this differentiation.
Hi, I bought dungarees and it feels like a good time to tell everyone I’m pansexual. Have a lovely day 🏳️🌈☺️🥰 pic.twitter.com/j34AAnQ8HN— Danni ✨ (@danniscotty) March 23, 2021
Numerous celebrities have opened up about their sexuality and there is one common thread for pansexuality – falling for the person regardless of gender expression. Many discuss who they shift from bisexual to pansexual or use queer as a catchall term. Lachlan Watson of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina fame clarified their identity in a Netflix interview saying; “I identify as both non-binary and pansexual, which are two very fancy ways of saying I don’t care”.
Watson’s quote resonated as I, too, just don’t care. For me, bisexuality simply never felt right. While I may jokingly identify with bi stereotypes like rolled-up jeans and being perpetually single, the label itself didn’t connect. Pansexuality is just what suits me and what feels right, now. Pansexuality does not erase bisexuality, it is simply another way to express how we feel. It may change as new sexualities and gender expressions develop and that’s okay. You shouldn’t feel like you can’t come out fifty times over if you need, your sexuality is yours to define. And for me, in the wise words of Janelle Monáe, an American singer and pansexual icon, “I consider myself to be a free-a** motherf*cker.”
Words by Danni Scott
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