What does it mean to identify as Pansexual?

The first recorded reference to Pansexuality is credited to Sigmund Freud’s theory of pansexualism first referenced in 1915, essentially stating human instinct is the basis for all attraction.  

In those days, it was considered immoral to hold this viewpoint and had a somewhat different meaning from the current definition.  Fortunately the phrase has evolved into the meaning most people think of when they hear the term Pansexual as we know it today.

Most simply stated, novelist and activist Rita Mae Brown described the definition of pansexuality as being “open to loving anybody”, a controversial statement when it was made in 1963 and one that resulted in her being kicked out of the university she was attending during that time.

Of course, this early definition predates Wikipedia, which describes Pansexuality as “sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity.  Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex are not determining factors in their romantic or sexual attraction to others.”

Although Pansexuality often falls under the umbrella of bi-sexuality, there is a distinct difference.  Whereas bi-sexuality contains reference to gender, Pansexuality by nature excludes the presence of gender as a defining attribute.  

In other words, Pansexuals are open to relationships with people who do not identify as strictly male of female.  Of all the sexual identities, Pansexual is the most inclusive.

There is a common misconception that the term “promiscuous” is synonymous with “Pansexual” however this is far from the truth.  Although the modern Pansexual does not consider gender as the basis for attraction, Pansexual people are individuals just like hetersexuals, bisexuals, and homosexuals, and therefore have varying appetites for sexual promiscuity.

When in a relationship with someone who identifies as pansexual it is important to understand and respect their boundaries as it relates to their level of comfort with varying degrees of sexuality.  Since they tend to find themselves in relationships that span a broad category one must never assume their preferences in any specific area.  In other words, always talk to your partner!

While it is your choice when deciding who you should make aware of your sexual orientation, many have found it gratifying and described as a weight being lifted.  Although it can be difficult to explain, especially to those unfamiliar with the terminology, one can easily explain it in three simple words:

“Hearts, not parts”

At first this phrase may feel diminutive, but sometimes the most simple explanation is best, especially to those who may have a difficult time understanding at first.  Continuing with the discussion, you can explain pansexuality as being a natural attraction to people regardless of gender.

When considering having this conversation with loved ones it is also important to first speak with your partner who may have concerns of their own.  You’ll want to make sure you are not unintentionally exposing them in a way that has unforeseen consequences as a result of your actions.

Fortunately, the Pansexual lifestyle has grown rapidly in the past decade and will become more prominent as a legitimate orientation and life choice as time goes on.  In a 2016 Harris Poll survey of 2,000 US adults, commissioned by GLAAD found that among 18-34 year-olds, about two percent self-identify as pansexua, and approximately one percent in all other age groups.

This number has likely risen in five years since the poll was commissioned, however there is still limited research on the subject.  In the meantime, a number of prominent celebrities have publicly declared themselves as Pansexual, both promoting and supporting the cause with their wide reaching influence.

Some well known pansexual voices include:

Bella Thorne “I realized recently I’m actually pansexual, and I didn’t know that. Somebody explained to me really thoroughly what that is, and I am pan. You like beings, you like what you like. Doesn’t have to be a girl, or a guy, or … you know, a he, a she, a they, a this, or that. It’s literally, you like personality, like you just like a being. It doesn’t really matter what’s going on, over there. If I just like it, I like it!”

Cara Delevigne “I always will remain, I think, pansexual. However one defines themselves, whether it’s ‘they’ or ‘he’ or ‘she,’ I fall in love with the person — and that’s that. I’m attracted to the person.”

Miley Cyrus “I am literally open to every single thing that is consenting and doesn’t involve an animal and everyone is of age. Everything that’s legal, I’m down with. Yo, I’m down with any adult — anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me. I don’t relate to being boy or girl, and I don’t have to have my partner relate to boy or girl.”

Tess Holliday “I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship to my own queerness, and I think the word pansexual speaks to me more than bi does.“

Yungblud “I probably would say now, I am polyamorous. Before I didn’t fucking know what I was.” // “If I was to identify somewhere on the spectrum, my sexuality is ever evolving, I will probably be close to probably pan, because it’s all about a person for me.” // “ I came out as pansexual the other day.”

Appearing on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Demi Lovato stated “I also don’t know if I’m going to end up with a guy, so I can’t really see myself maybe getting pregnant,” she said, talking about whether or not she would want to have kids. “I’m so fluid now — and a part of the reason why I am so fluid is because I was super closeted off.”

Rogan asked some clarifying questions about her fluidity, eventually asking if the term “pansexual” felt right for her. “Yeah, pansexual,” she said with a smile.

At the end of the day Pansexual means prioritizing love over everything else.  Love IS love – and it’s a beautiful thing.

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