Pansexuality 101


Someone who is newly discovering their sexuality may find it intimidating to identify him or herself in the queer community. There are a lot of different terms and deciphering which one describes fits best can seem impossible.

What is pansexuality? Google defines it as, “not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.” Essentially, pansexual individuals aren’t looking at someone’s gender (whether that is gender expression or sex given at birth) when choosing a potential partner.

When people hear the term pansexual, they might assume it is simply the same as bisexuality, which is only partially true. Yes, bisexual and pansexual people are attracted to more than just one gender. Where the difference lies is that bisexuality is based around two genders, bi- being the Latin prefix for two. In comparison, pansexuality is based around the Greek prefix pan- meaning all. Bisexuality is an attraction to two genders whereas pansexuality is an attraction to all genders. So, someone who is pansexual has the potential to be attracted to anyone because gender isn’t a limitation.

The biggest similarity between bisexuality and pansexuality is stigmas attached to the two. Many people believe that those who are attracted to more than just one gender are selfish, greedy, desperate, only interested in being in a polyamorous relationship or that they just want to be a part of one’s threesome. Since the LGBT community is a very open community, people assume things, such as that pansexual individuals sleep around or are more likely to cheat. But these characteristics are based around other things, not a person’s sexual orientation. The same principle applies to polyamorous relationships and threesomes. Attraction to multiple genders doesn’t inherently mean pansexual individuals all want to be in a relationship with more than one person or are automatically interested in a threesome.

These stigmas have been engrained into society so much so that some people won’t even consider dating someone who is pan or bi. Sayings like, “bi people are secretly gay,” “pansexuality doesn’t exist” or “so you’re half gay and half straight,” show the extent at which people are uninformed on this topic.

The best part about personal identity is that each individual gets to choose it for him or herself. One person’s definition of pansexuality doesn’t necessarily feel like another person’s definition of it. What’s important is that one finds where he or she fits and is proud of it.

That journey of self-discovery can be hard, but there is a group on campus that welcomes everyone with open arms and doesn’t expect anyone to be a certain way. This is the first year Piedmont has an official Gay Straight Alliance, so whether one identifies as gay, bi, pan, questioning, an ally or anything else, all are welcome. The GSA’s next official business meeting will be on Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. in the back room of the dining hall. For more information, please contact them at [email protected]