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Flying the Pansexual Flag: What Is Pansexual Identity?

  • Nov.03.2020
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what is pansexual

Pansexuality: pansexual meaning, identity, and pride within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. Know when to use pansexual v.s. bisexual, famous pansexual celebrities, and the history of the pansexual flag.

Pansexual Definition

The pansexual origin story isn’t simple but the meaning can be derived from breaking up the word. The word pansexual is made up of the Greek prefix “pan,” which means “all,” and “sexual” which combined create sexuality where an individual is attracted to all possible genders. Being attracted to any or all genders does not at all mean that pansexual people are interested in every person. It means that they are attracted to people because of something other than their gender expression.

What Is an Example of a Pansexual Identity?

Pansexuality has different meanings for different people. Some would say pansexuality means attraction to all genders, others would say it is an attraction based on personality and not on gender, some would say its an attraction to even those who do not identify as any known gender or agender people as well as those whose individual gender identity does not fit into society’s gender binary.

Pansexual Celebrities

pansexual celebrities

Famous pansexual celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Deadpool have brought more mainstream interest to the pansexual identity. Miley Cyrus came out to society as pansexual and explained in Elle magazine UK that she didn’t relate to the way “boy and girl” are defined. A surprising pansexual celebrity is the State of Texas Rep. Mary Gonzales, who has dated transgender as well as gender non-conforming people and felt that bisexual wasn’t exactly right because gender simply isn’t the defining part of her attraction. Pansexual celebrity Janelle Monae said that she used to identify as bisexual but upon further reading, she adopted the term pansexual because it’s more all-encompassing of her queerness. This has led many people to pose the question: What is the difference between bi and pan?

There has recently been a surge in people identifying as pansexual which has inspired a lot of conversation in the LGBTQ+ community surrounding the categorization of sexuality and gender identity. Although pansexual is a relatively new term for mainstream usage, this doesn’t erase the rich history of human sexuality that includes this kind of attraction. Some folks who have used the term bisexual to describe their sexuality for their whole life continue to do so because they feel that this term has never excluded transgender or gender non-conforming people from their attraction. Some people who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming would prefer to simply use the term queer because it is even more of an umbrella term than pansexual. The term queer can include an individual’s gender expression as well as that person’s sexual orientation where pansexual only express sexual attraction and does not express personal gender identity.

Pansexual vs Bisexual

The recent controversy over whether bisexual has become an outdated term has sparked many folks who identify as bisexual to redefine bisexuality not as having a romantic interest in both of two genders but instead having a romantic interest in more than only one gender expression or identity. The assumption that bisexuality is an identity that excludes transgender people or non-binary people discredits those who have identified as bisexual and also found themselves in relationships or sexual encounters with people who do not fit into the archetype of cisgender woman or man. However, this is not true for every bisexual person and it does not mean that transgender and gender non-conforming folks have always felt included in any or all LGBTQ+ events or organizations. We must remember history and the fact that famous LGBTQ+ rights activist and trans woman Sylvia Rivera was ridiculed and booed off stage when she attempted to speak about how much she has given to the gay rights movement at a pride parade in the 1970s. We must remember Marsha P. Johnson, a self-identified drag queen, who threw the first brick at the famous Stonewall Inn riot for queer liberation. In order to use the acronym LGBTQ+, we cannot erase the meaning of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and more from the humans who have fought for rights and freedom in an oppressively heteronormative society. The trans and non-binary community has always been full of so many different stories and experiences, but the visibility that has come about in the last two decades has made some cisgender people believe that this is a new topic. This is simply not the case. However, this very visibility is something that people who are not cis-gender have fought for, and the term pansexual might be another expression of that fight for some. For others who understand that their sexuality has always included non-binary and transhumans and see to it that bisexuality does not mean cisgender folks only, bisexual may still feel like the right term.

Pansexual Pride

pansexual flag meaning

The pansexual flag is the pansexual symbol of love for many who feel limited by terms like gay, straight, or bisexual and who fight for acceptance of attraction despite the gender binary instead of because of it. The flag was popularized in 2010 and is similar to the rainbow LGBTQ+ flag, and the bisexual flag. While the bisexual flag is half blue and half pink to signify both men and women, there is an additional yellow stripe on the pansexual flag meaning that there are attraction and love for anyone in-between or outside of the categories of men and women.

This flag is often flown proudly on May 24, officially the pansexual day of visibility.

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