What being pansexual

 means to me

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written by an anonymous contributor

I studied Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in high school. There was one line that stood out, that seemed to reach and speak to me. 

‘Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.’

In a nutshell, this is how I define my sexuality. I look not with my eyes but with my mind and heart. 

I came out as gay at fourteen years old. One month later I entered into a relationship with a girl. In my head this was just me in flux, a way of finding exactly who I was. I knew whatever I was, it wasn’t gay but it, also, wasn’t straight. When this relationship ended two years later I was now nearly seventeen and still no closer to finding out which box I fitted into. I couldn’t be in more than one box, could I? 

When at eighteen I found myself single again, after another relationship with a girl, my mum jokingly reminded me of when I came out as gay. She was quick to say something along the lines of ‘that obviously wasn’t true was it?’ To which my only reply was ‘well I’m not straight either.’ 

From then on if I found someone hot or if I loved them I just talked about them. Men, women, drag queens, trans people, non-binary people were referenced in all the same way. My family just knew that I found attraction as a limitless and boundary-free expression. 

In 2015, comedian Joe Lycett appeared on a chat show talking about his pansexuality. At 18 I hadn’t heard the word before. After some extensive research I come to a conclusion: this is me. This is what I’ve been meaning when I say that bisexual is too limiting, too definitive. This doesn’t mean that I subscribe to the view that bisexuality is transphobic or anti-gender expression, because I do not. For me, gender, personality, identity, mentality and emotional and sexual presence all play huge roles in attraction and connection.

We always talk of role models within our community, and I feel there is a lack of male pansexual and bisexual heroes. When one googles bisexual celebrities the top of the list is likely to be Kristen Stewart, Lady Gaga, Cara Delevingne and Drewe Barrymore. Namely cis, white women. Yes, women of all ethnicities and men of all walks of life feature on these lists, but they’re at the bottom, they’re not a headline act at the concert of sexualities.
I have faced discrimination, in various forms, as a pansexual man. Unfortunately this has been from all ends of the gender and sexuality spectrum. Straight people implying that I’m just promiscuous, gay people taunting me as attention-seeking, bisexual people claiming that I’m denying their existence and everyone asking if I’m attracted to kitchen appliances. It doesn’t help that we, under the ‘P’, are always on the end of any acronym used for the Queer Community (if we’re even there at all). I know others find using the terms lesbian, gay and bisexual useful as they bridge gaps and fill in the grey areas when explaining what pansexuality can mean. In the past I used to identify as bisexual when I didn’t have the time, energy or will power to explain myself, to define myself. It was only in my twenties that I came to the realisation I don’t need to define it. 

Pansexuality has always been there. We have always been there. In the writings of the Romantic poets, in diaries of the Victorian era and in the art of the Renaissance we were there. The term may be new, and it doesn’t have the movement and history of the other letters of our acronym, but let me tell you it has depth, it has meaning and it certainly has validation.