When talking about LGBTQ+ politics, people conveniently seem to forget what the ‘B’ stands for, so it’s a pretty big deal when the conversation actually include s bisexual folks. Though, despite being under the Bi+ umbrella, pansexuality is generally ignored by everyone outside of the pan community.
Pansexuality and bisexuality are fairly similar, so people often mistake this identicality, and dismiss the idea of pansexuality.
However, pansexuality is not the same as bisexuality and deserves to be acknowledged. So, in honor of Bisexual Awareness Week, let’s talk a little bit about pansexuality.
The difference between pansexuality and bisexuality is highly disputed. Some say bisexuality just encompasses the sexual attraction to the binary genders (male and female) whereas pansexuality is the attraction to all genders/people regardless of gender. But, since the prefix “bi” means two, technically bisexual people could be attracted to a binary gender and a non-binary gender. For example, a bisexual man could be attracted to women and gender-fluid people.
There’s an argument that is often made claiming that bisexuality means “the sexual attraction to two or more genders”, which would include non-binary genders. However, this can still be exclusive, while pansexuality is the sexual attraction to ALL genders. The lack of a solid definition of the sexualities leads to a lot of dispute surrounding what people really are. At the end of the day, it’s all about identification; if you identify as pansexual, then you’re part of the community. One thing for sure is that while they are under the same umbrella, they are NOT the same thing.
There aren’t as many celebrities that identify as pansexual as there are that identify as bisexual, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Natasha Negovanlis, Laci Green, Brooke Candy, Sophie B. Hawkins, Miley Cyrus, Angel Haze, and Amandla Stenberg are just a few celebrities that are openly pansexual. (Miley, Angel, and Amandla are in the featured picture). Amandla even spoke about the erasure of pansexuality and how they play a part in it. While they actually identify as pansexual, Amandla said,
“I use the word bisexual just because […] it’s easier to say I’m bi.”
Since most people are much more familiar with the term bisexual than they are with pansexual, it leads to a lot of erasure despite the large presence of pan people.
Respecting pansexual people goes further than just treating us like human beings; it’s necessary to actively include us the conversation. Many of the struggles other non-hetero people have to deal with, pan people have to deal with to. Add erasure on top of that and it’s quite the full plate. In this week of celebrating bisexuality don’t forget about pansexuality and the many pan people in the world. We exist and want recognition.