What Is the Difference Between Pansexuality And Omnisexuality?

Throughout pride month I saw the terms pansexual and omnisexual being used interchangeably. However, they are not synonyms of each other (thus being why they each have their own day during pride month); there is a big difference between the two that needs to be acknowledged.

Most people define both terms as meaning the attraction to all genders, but this isn’t fully true. Oxford Dictionary defines pansexual as not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity and omnisexual as involving, related to, or characterized by a diverse sexual propensity. Both pansexual and omnisexual are rather new words in relation to labeling sexualities, but both stem from different languages. The prefix pan- comes from the Greek word ‘pan’ meaning all, while the prefix omni- comes from the Latin word ‘omni’, which also means all. But despite the fact that both of the terms contain a prefix meaning ‘all’, there is still a key difference between the two.

The key difference being the fact that pansexuality is the attraction to people regardless of gender, meaning that they could date a man, a woman, someone identifying as non-binary or anyone else without said person’s gender playing a part in whether they date them or have the capacity to love them. Whereas omnisexual is the attraction to anyone despite their gender, meaning they could also date a man, a woman, someone identifying as non-binary or anyone else, while noticing their gender but not caring how they identify.

The important thing to remember is that sexuality (and gender) differs from person to person, so someone’s definition of their sexuality (or gender) might be different to another person’s. However, as long as you are comfortable in your sexuality (or gender) you can choose to label yourself however you want or you could not label yourself at all. So don’t ever feel pressured to choose or conform to a certain sexuality (or gender). I hope that in the close future it will become normal for people to know about, educate themselves on and at least try to understand other sexualities and genders aside from heterosexuality and identifying as a binary gender or being cis-gendered.

“I hope we are moving towards a world where sexual orientation is not an issue, [..] I think it’s a real shame that people become restricted by their sexuality or define their whole lives by their sexuality.” -Neil Tennant

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Pippa is a British high school student who is interested in social justice, intersectional feminism and international issues.

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