5 very important facts pansexual people want you to know about pansexuality

A person holds a pansexual pride flag

Pansexual Pride Day, 8 December, is a day dedicated to celebrating, recognising and learning about the pansexual community.

Pansexuality, attraction which is not limited by gender, is a sexual orientation that has been plagued by misconceptions and erasure.

This Pansexual Pride Day, three pansexual people spoke to PinkNews to give you a non-exhaustive rundown of what your pan pals want you to know.

1. Pansexuality and bisexuality are not the same thing

While many people use the words “pansexual” and “bisexual” interchangeably, they are distinct and separate sexual orientations.

Pansexual BBC Studios podcast producer Ella Watts explained: “For me, the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality is that I don’t experience any difference in my sexual or romantic attraction to people of different genders, whereas I’ve known a lot of people on the bisexual spectrum who might be comfortable having sex with anyone of any gender, but have a preference for dating people of a certain gender, or the other way around.”

“Pansexuality isn’t about which genders I’m attracted to, it’s about how the way I experience attraction to people of various genders might differ from the way someone who firmly identifies as bi experiences it,” she said.

Hilary Mitchell, PinkNews’ audience and growth editor, added: “Bisexual means being attracted to more than one gender, while I’m attracted to people of all genders, or none.

“Also I think pansexuality is also more about being attracted to a person’s energy more than the body they are in.”

However, Walker points out: “I also know a lot of bi people who experience their sexual and romantic identity the way I do – it’s about finding what fits and feels comfortable… Labels should be guidelines and helpful suggestions, not rules!”

2. Pansexual people aren’t ‘confused’

Dating can be a minefield for anyone, but for pansexual folk it can involve all-too-common ignorance when it comes to their sexual orientation.

“Much like our bisexual friends, pansexual people experience extensive confusion, biphobia and panphobia within and [outside of] the queer community,” said Walker.

“I’m very, very tired of being told by lesbians they’ll never date me because I’m confused, they can’t be sure I won’t leave them for someone of another gender.

“Straight people tend to just think we’re serial cheaters or only a serious option when you want to have an orgy, not as a romantic partner.

“To be honest my biggest frustration is that I find my queer feminity tends to alienate a lot of cis men, which I can find frustrating. I love guys too!”

Pansexual South African criminologist Sharleen Cronje added: “Greater awareness and representation would dispel many of the preconceived notions and biases so inherent in how we are seen.

“We truly see [that] ‘love is love’, and that crosses gender, racial, cultural and societal norms.”

3. Pansexuality does not equal non-monogamy

Mitchell said she is often faced with the assumption that because she’s pansexual, she must be “more promiscuous”.

“It’s like: ‘Oh, you like everything, every gender, every possible type of person, so that means you’re probably with someone different every night,'” she said.

“Or they equate pansexuality with polyamory, for a similar reason.”

Of course pansexual people can be polyamorous, but they are no more likely to be than anyone else.

“I am attracted to all genders but I’m in a monogamous relationship with a man at the moment,” Mitchell explained.

“Before that I was in a monogamous relationship with a woman for 10 years.”

4. Being pansexual is amazing

The most important thing to know is that being pansexual is incredible.

“My favourite thing about being pan is seeing the ‘person’ and not the physical trappings,” Cronje explained. “Being pan provides me the opportunity to explore someone’s soul.”

Walker said that being able to truly appreciate how beautiful all people are is an amazing benefit of being pansexual.

She exclaimed: “Everyone is so pretty! It’s a cliché and a bit of a stereotype, but it’s true. I feel like I can find something to really love about every single person I meet, and that’s pretty awesome.

“I also appreciate the fact that I can relate to almost every alloromantic/ allosexual person [those who experience romantic and sexual attraction, respectively].

“We might not have the same taste, but I can always agree that girls, boys, intersex people and trans folk anywhere on the gender spectrum are extremely pretty.”

Mitchell appreciates the “openness” of being pan, as well as “the focus on people’s personalities and how that’s the most important thing about another human being: who they are as a person, not what body they were born into”.

The pansexual Pride flag, created by Jasper V in 2010, is also “a fantastic colour combination”.

5. No, it’s nothing to do with pans

“It doesn’t mean I’m attracted to kitchen objects,” Mitchell cleared up. Enough said.