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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Identity » Pansexuality

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Author Topic: Pansexuality
Phish
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I apologize in advance for the length.
I was wondering, could anyone shed some light on pansexuality? I am a seventeen-year-old lady, and have been in a very serious relationship with a guy for two years. Let me say, first, that I love him beyond everything, and we plan to marry in a few years (or less). Being with him sort of "turns off" any sexual attraction (of any kind) to any other person but him. (Even thinking about another person in a sexual way disgusts me). However, even before we were together, I always somehow viewed men and women on the same level of attractiveness. Also, I have had very few "crushes", compared to my peers, during my life, because I have never been attracted to anyone before I really knew them... meaning, understood their personality. Also, I have always viewed women as far more aesthetically beautiful than men, but have never been "attracted" to any woman's personality, only to their bodies. (I am an artist- this may affect my perspective, also.) If I had not met the person I believe I am meant to spend the rest of my life with, I could easily see myself starting a relationship with a woman. (Actually, I would be with who I am now even if, hypothetically, he were a woman.) Whatever "sexual label" I identify with would not change my relationship with my partner, and so, a label would not really make much difference to me, anyhow. Also, we have discussed this issue before, and he says whatever label I identified with would not change his love, either. In short (ha, ha) I would like to know more about what pansexuality is. All the articles I have found so far on the topic have been far too ambivalent and vague to satiate my curiosity. Thanks so much for your help! [Big Grin]

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One Love!

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Most folks define pansexuality as simply a very open base of emotional and sexual attraction where gender is pretty much irrelevant: where a person can be attracted to men, women, intersex, transgender or genderqueer people.

In other words, can you pretty much be sexually and romantically attracted to anyone when it comes to gender? If so, you're talking about pansexuality.

However, just know that no sexual orientation determines whether or not someone is going to choose monogamous or nonmonogamous relationships, and plenty of people who are not heterosexual or homosexual still have long or lifelong committed, monogamous relationships. (Just the same way that while most hetero or homo folks are attracted to more than one partner, they still choose to only be with one partner.)

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Phish
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Hmm. So, are the main differences between pan and bisexuality that pansexuals are attracted to different people regardless, instead of because, of gender, and that pansexuality includes trans, etc. people? I've always regarded myself as straight because I've never been emotionally attracted to anyone besides a few men, but I believe I would have the potential to be, if I met the right kind of person. Genders have never really been a big deal to me.
As a note, I wouldn't dare to think that any form sexuality inhibits a monogamous or nonmonogamous relationship. Unfortunately, however, many people are brainwashed into such a mindset.
Why have I not heard of pansexuality until recently? Is it social taboo, or is there a very small percentage of pansexuals, or what? I've always felt that "straight" was not an appropriate term for myself, but neither was "bisexual". Pansexuality seems a little more fitting for how I feel.
Thanks again for the help.

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One Love!

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Heather
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For the most part, the reason most people tend to use pansexual rather than bisexual is simply to acknowledge that the idea that sex or gender is binary is inaccurate.

But really, for the most part, people tend to base their ideas about their orientation on what is really going on and has: on who they have felt attraction towards and have had relationships with, not on who they MIGHT be able to. In other words, I don't say I'm a doctor because I could envision myself maybe being one, or say that I am 60 when I am, in fact, 38, because I know I will probably be 60 or can envision myself being 60: make sense?

However, when it comes to if you label or orientation or not and how, it's just one of those things that is up to you, based on whatever your own standards or criteria are. But it is always worthwhile to have some thought about the visibility of others in how we ID, too. If everyone and their uncle who only has hetero attractions and hetero relationships identifies as bi or pansexual, for instance, it tends to render those of us who do and have had attractions and relationships with people of all genders more invisible than we already tend to be.

You likely haven't heard the term until recently simply because it isn't as commonly used as bisexuality is, that's all.

[ 11-03-2008, 02:32 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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bluejumprope
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quote:
Originally posted by Phish:
Hmm. So, are the main differences between pan and bisexuality that pansexuals are attracted to different people regardless, instead of because, of gender

Personally, I find definitions of pansexuality or bisexuality that use phrases like "attraction regardless of gender or sex" problematic. I'm pansexual but when I'm attracted to someone it's often "because of" their gender/sex. Just because I'm attracted to a wide range of genders doesn't make gender/sex any less attractive to me. There are many people who identify as bisexual or pansexual though who do feel "attraction regardless of gender/sex" does describe their experience.

quote:
Originally posted by Phish:
Why have I not heard of pansexuality until recently?

I don't know when/how the term pansexual started being used, but awareness of trans identities or issues in mainstream culture is a relatively new phenomenon, so recognition of identities based on attraction to trans people in the mainstream is relatively new too.

[ 11-03-2008, 04:01 PM: Message edited by: bluejumprope ]

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without tenderness, we are in hell. -Adrienne Rich

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Phish
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That's true. I don't think I quite worded myself correctly, however.
Bisexuality, as I understand is, is attraction to men and women. However, pansexuality seems to emcompass all genders, including those outside of male/female roles. If I identify as straight, am emotionally and sexually attracted to men, but have never kissed, dated, or had any sort of relationship with a man, am I therefore asexual? If I have had sex with a man before, but am attracted exclusively to women, am I straight?
I have never really regarded gender as a deciding factor in my choice for partners. Although genders are important to some other people, they were irrelevant to my decision in my relationship. I have been attracted to all sorts of people, even outside of the male or female genders, not because I am attracted to their genders, per se, but because of the people themselves, their personalities. Again, I've never really cared for a particular gender, nor the stereotypes and roles that come with them.
Hey, thanks for your comments, jumprope. [Smile] First, however, I never "defined" pansexuality. I don't know a terrible lot about it; hence, the question. My view has always been that gendrs don't really matter. To use a tired, cliche, Saturday-morning-cartoon phrase, "it's what's on the inside that counts". So, I'm wondering if pansexuality would be an accurate description of my orientation. If this is who I am, I want to be aware of it. If it isn't, however, I don't want to identify myself incorrectly with people who are pansexual.
Thanks for your help (again, again!) Sorry for the lengthy questions and whatnot.

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One Love!

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Heather
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If you identify as straight, one presumes you to be heterosexual.

Again, orientation isn't something anyone needs to prove with sexual activity or relationships. However, the relationships a person engages in or pursues, as with the sex they engage in or pursue, as well as those with whom they WANT to do so with are all factors. In other words, a woman who only wanted to engage in sexual/romantic relationships with men and only pursued and engaged in relationships with men is very unlikely to be lesbian as well as bisexual or pansexual, sparing women who felt a strong sexual or romantic attraction to women but who, for instance, felt that was terrible and morally wrong and so did not want to enact those feelings or desires in any way.

Over time, what we look to is our patterns, and identifying our orientation is something that does tend to often take that time. So, if you see over the years that you always seem to want to pursue or choose women when it comes to sex and romance, that tells you something about your orientation, and tends to make clear that you are probably not attracted or strongly attracted to men or those who are not women. If you find that over time, your desires, attractions, sexual experiences and relationships look mixed to some degree when it comes to gender, then it's safe to say you're likely bisexual or pansexual (whichever wording you prefer: those two really are only different when it comes to semantics).

Understand, too, that sex and gender are different. In other words, sex -- our gonads our genitals -- are those outside things. But gender isn't external or biological: it's about how we self-identify when it comes to our sex, about our individual personality and identity when it comes to our sex. In other words, while how we present our gender is external, our gender is very much "on the inside."

Seems like you perhaps just need some more time to see what the patterns in your life are. It's not like you need to have an answer to this right away, particularly not if you are in a relationship with someone and have no intention in the near future of dating outside of it.

[ 11-03-2008, 04:57 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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This piece, by the way, may be of use to you: Genderpalooza! A Sex & Gender Primer.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Phish
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Hey, again.
Jeez... don't know how many times I'll say thanks before this is over, but thanks again for your advice. I understand what you're saying. And no, I'm in no rush to finish the "Hi, my name is..." on my chest, but... I don't know. I've always felt this way, but never thought that there was really a "term" for it. I dearly love my boyfriend, and so, realizing what partners I do or do not want now is not the issue issue. My deal was that, once I found that there were other people who may think similarly to me, and that my feelings weren't as uncommon as I thought them to be... well, it was a relief. I talked to my best friend, my closest gay friend, and my boyfriend about it, and they were all very cool and supportive about it. Honestly, I feel like a big weight has been lifted off of me. Which may sound weird, but... it's just a relief to acknowledge something that's been with me for a long time.
Thanks for the article link. I'll scuttle off and investigate that now...

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One Love!

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Jill2000Plus
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I've identified as pansexual for a while because I don't think of sex as a binary, my gay friend says they are fully supportive of my attraction to those who play pan pipes (LOL), they also said they actually think that what I'm trying to do with the term is really good, and I think it fits, so I'm sticking with it, but it has historically also been linked to attraction also to animals and children I think, which is the reason I was reluctant to use it for a while and may be the reason that it isn't in common usage.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Shani
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I personally would not recommend identifying as pansexual. I mean, every situation is different. Take Jill2000Plus, for example. She (just assuming -- correct me if I'm wrong) seems to be doing fine with identifying that way (also, "pan pipes" -- Ha ha!), but for me, that didn't work out so well. Take theatre camp last year. Everyone was all open-minded and everything, but as soon as I came out as pansexual, it was like a whole different world. A couple of girls pretended they didn't care, but then went behind my back and talked shit about me. The guys didn't seem to care, but most of them were gay anyways. Since then I've discovered that guys are fine to look at, but I don't really want to mess around with them or anything, so that issue is more or less over anyways, but still.

...Anyways, the point is, you may want to "test the waters" a bit before coming out as anything.

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Heather
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I think it's worth mentioning that nearly any queer identity can wind up resulting in mockery, exclusion, gossip or in being treated badly.

In other words, I'm not so sure we can accurately say that any one way of identifying is more or less likely to result in these things than another, you know? To boot, I think it's sound to consider the value of being authentic and real and IDing in the way that feels truest to us, even if it does mean some people will be dopes about it.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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TheTasteOfPurple
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I labeled myself as pansexual for a while, before I decided I was done with labels and would just say "I like people" or "I'm attracted to people, not genders" if asked. Pansexual is still probably the one-word label that fits me most closely. I recognize that gender is an inextricable part of most people's identities, so I can't say that it doesn't matter to me; but I've been attracted to people across the gender spectrum and I've never been or not been attracted to someone BECAUSE of their gender. I hope that was helpful to you, Phish, in your quest for orientation information.

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Julia

The highest result of education is tolerance. -Helen Keller

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