Everything You Wanted to Know About Being Pansexual

Alexa: “If I dig your energy, I dig you.”

“I’ve found that being pansexual is extremely empowering as a woman. I don’t feel defined by the ridiculous gender roles of our society,” says Alexa, a 25-year-old who discovered her pansexual identity post-college, when she first fell in love with another woman. “I wouldn’t go so far [as] to say I’m gender-blind, but I work off energy. If I dig your energy, I dig you.”

Danielle: “I never want to alienate anyone in my sexual expression.”

Danielle, a 28-year-old who came from a conservative Caribbean culture, discovered her pansexuality after first thinking she was bisexual. She took a course in queer studies, and assessed her sexuality. “To me, pansexuality feels the most organic way to exist in this world,” she explains. “It’s all about energy and who you’re attracted to, and to shut yourself off because you are predisposed to thinking you’re not attracted to men or whatever, can prematurely shut you down from a connection that you might be able to have. I tend to be attracted to people who hold a little masculine and a little feminine energy.”

HB: “My sexual attraction is not based on gender assignment or gender expression.”

“I knew since I was a kid that I liked both women and men. Joan Jett made me feel funny in the same way as Bruce Springsteen,” says HB, a full-time student who identifies as pansexual. “I had identified as bisexual for most of my life, but as an adult, I heard the term pansexual and I realized it was a more accurate description of the way I felt. I’d say the best definition would be that my sexual attraction is not based on gender assignment or gender expression. I am attracted to men and women as well as nonbinary people who don’t identify as either. I am attracted to certain personality types and physical features, just like anyone else.”

What are some misconceptions about pansexuality?

Personal definitions on pansexuality differ, but the overarching theme is that gender does not limit attraction. This often leads to the misconception that pan people are hypersexual. Just like not all straight women want to hook up with every straight guy they see, not all pan people are attracted to every person they see.

It’s a ridiculous assumption, but Alexa says some people still have trouble taking her sexuality seriously. “It certainly makes the dating pool more like a dating lake,” she says. “But I have found that many hetero men and homosexual women have trouble seeing a long-term future with me and think I’m just ‘in a phase.’”

HB agrees, saying the biggest misconception about pansexuality is “that we are trying to have sex with anyone and everyone. [Again], I am attracted to certain personality types and physical features, just like anyone else.”

“It’s not like I have this crazy sex drive and I need more people to satisfy it, and that’s why I’m pansexual,” says Danielle. “It’s that I’m open to everyone and their amazing energy; but whether it meets up with mine is a totally different thing. It’s a hard thing for people to wrap their heads around when they are already carrying their own weird insecurities and biases about how people should identify.”

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