So What Exactly Is Pansexuality And How Is It Different From Bisexuality?

So What Exactly Is Pansexuality And How Is It Different From Bisexuality?

More and more celebrities are defining themselves as pansexual. Miley Cyrus and Asia Kate Dillon have embraced the label for years, but the recent celebrity coming-outs have given pansexuality renewed attention, and people are wondering: Just what exactly is pansexuality?

In an inspirational Rolling Stone interview earlier this year, eclectic Indie R&B singer Janelle Monáe came out as both queer and pansexual. “I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker,” said the 32-year-old.

After the interview went viral, lookups of the word pansexual on Merriam Webster rose 11,000% and the term became the most searched word of the day.

And just days after donating $1 million to LGBT youth under the GLSEN foundation, Panic! at the Disco‘s Brendon Urie defined his sexuality for PAPER Magazine.

“I’m married to a woman and I’m very much in love with her, but I’m not opposed to a man because to me, I like a person.” Urie went on, “Yeah, I guess you could qualify me as pansexual because I really don’t care.”

But what exactly is pansexuality?

The word entered the English language in 1917, although it originally described “the view that the sex instinct plays the primary part in all human activity, mental and physical.” Many 20th century critics believed it to be the views of Sigmund Freud and was considered a term of reproach.

Nowadays, it’s more commonly understood as a sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards a person regardless of their gender identity or orientation. Pansexuals can be attracted to cisgender, transgender, intersex, and androgynous people, so the gender binary is less important and feelings are based on who a person truly is and less on the physical.

So what’s the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality?

Some people use the two terms interchangeably. But while not exactly focused on the gender binary, bisexuality usually refers to both heterosexual and homosexual attraction. Since pansexuality is attraction regardless of gender or orientation, many consider it to be a bit more inclusive.

You also may have heard the term sexually fluid. It’s similar to bi and pan in many regards, but it ultimately embraces the idea that a person’s homosexual and heterosexual attractions exist in a state of flux that are constantly changing over time. Celebrities like Demi Lovato and Nyle DiMarco embrace the label as a way to freely express their attractions.

Sexuality is complicated and it may take time to understand, but it’s ultimately up to all of us to define – or not define – for ourselves.

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4 Comments

  1. Rehoboth
    July 09, 07:50 Reply

    Sexuality is complicated and it may take time to understand, but it’s ultimately up to all of us to define – or not define – for ourselves

    Louder for those sneering at the back.

    • Mandy
      July 09, 08:30 Reply

      “If you want to be queer, be queer. If you want to lesbian, be lesbian. I think they should stop fool themselves with all these words.”

      Someone’s very “brilliant” response to this article. SMH

      • Rehoboth
        July 09, 08:51 Reply

        What if the label doesn’t really do justice to how YOU feel?

  2. Bee
    July 09, 16:28 Reply

    Are ALL bisexuals attracted to intersex and androgynous people? Probably include transgenders? If not, pansexuality is definitely different from bisexuality. It never confused me, to be honest.

    I thought bisexuality was black and white, while pansexuality was, you know, colorful. If that’s not the case, please answer my question up there.

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