Actress Bella Thorne came out as Pansexual yesterday on Good Morning America and millions of Americans rolled their eyes, took a sip of coffee, and voiced aloud, “Lord, what is this world coming to?”
When asked to explain what Pansexual meant, Bella elaborated, “You like beings. You like what you like. Doesn’t have to be a girl or a guy or a he or she or they or this or that. It’s literally you like personality. You just like a being.”
I myself came out as pansexual to my friends and family about four years ago, when I met a girl in New York who swept me off my feet with her extensive knowledge of Harry Potter, her ability to become fast friends with literally everyone she met (cab drivers, people on the subway, traffic cops, etc.), and her unreal commitment to dad jokes, despite being a professional comedian:
“What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?”
No answer. Just a moment where I thought she might physically burst from holding in her amusement, then a release of the most contagious, most uproarious laughter I’d ever heard.
I was smitten.
So why Pan and not Bi?
🤷 They’re pretty much the same thing.
The only difference is that the term Pansexuality was invented specifically to ensure that genderfluid people were included. Bisexual means that someone is attracted to two or more genders, but let’s be real. It sounds like only two. Bi means two. So it’s a term that can easily be misunderstood.
Pansexuality, on the other hand …also needs a marketing makeover.
So you’re attracted to cooking ware like Belinda Blinked?
No. Learn your prefixes, people.
Pan — including or relating to all the places or people in a particular group.
The pan-American conference begins at noon, when the leaders of every country in North and South America will be assembled.
A pan-European summit invites all of the countries of Europe together to discuss the imminent threat of climate change.
The pan-sexual lady writing this article doesn’t give a shit what’s in the pants of the person she falls for. It’s not about biological sex or gender for her, it’s about connecting intimately with another human being, and it’s about the amount of charm that person’s packing.
So does being Pansexual make me a female Don Juan? Am I a veritable sex machine, running sex summits and orgy conferences? Tempting men and women and everyone in-between into a life of debauchery and sin?
Only on Tuesdays.
No, I’m just normal, ok? I’m just me. I like a monogamous relationship where there’s cuddling and Netflix and inside jokes.
I like to look across a crowded room at my significant other and share a look of mutual understanding like Jim and Pam from The Office.
I like switching off who pays for dinner on date night.
I like it when my significant other is so excited by an epiphany they’ve had that they have to text me immediately and vice-versa.
I like deep, emotional and philosophical conversations that last late into the night and end in passionate lovemaking and/or more cuddling and verbal expressions of appreciation and gratitude.
I like being the little spoon and the big spoon, no matter the gender of the person I’m with. Though I’ve found that being the big spoon is better for my back.
Monogamy and level of commitment have nothing to do with sexual preference.
Some pansexual people date or sleep around. Some pansexual people are in polyamorous relationships. Some pansexual people are still with their high school sweetheart. Some pansexual people prefer to stay single. You’re all doing fantastic, babes. So long as everything’s consensual and nobody’s being lied to, manipulated, or abused, it’s all valid. And it’s no different from the amount of variation you see in straight or gay relationships.
Here’s a thought that’s never, ever crossed my mind — “Man, I really love my boyfriend, but I wish I could sleep with a girl, just for one night, just to get my pansexual ya-yas out.”
It’s not an urge. It’s not an itch I need to scratch. It’s simply an acknowledgment that the least important thing to me, when it comes to a relationship or to my attraction to someone, is their sex or gender.
So why bother calling myself Pansexual if I’m in a relationship with a man or a woman? Couldn’t I just call myself Straight or Lesbian then?
No. Because I’m still Pan. I’m still attracted to people regardless of their gender.
I don’t know if you know this, but attraction to other people doesn’t actually go away when you’re in a committed relationship. You just decide not to act on it because you’ve got a perfectly fantastic person at home who loves you and is your best friend. Your relationship with them is built on much more than attraction. It’s built on trust and memories and loyalty and time spent and words exchanged and mutual growth and being a team.
When you’re in a relationship like that, you know that the attraction you feel towards someone else could never outweigh the attraction of keeping that relationship together. Laughing a little too loudly at someone’s jokes or finding yourself glancing at their body can’t break up your relationship, only your decision to take it further than that can. (And, obviously, don’t keep glancing at people’s bodies. You think you’re being sneaky but everyone sees that shit.)
I think a lot of couples, straight and gay, would benefit from talking openly about this stuff to each other. Some jealousy situations are so simple to avoid with some preventative care.
But the other reason I’ll always identify as Pan is that I’m proud of my journey.
It took me years and years to come to terms with these strange feelings. It took me even longer to get the nerve up to come out to my friends and family. Along the way, I went through a lot of anxiety and self-hatred, but I also met a lot of wonderful, brave people who went through their own journeys first and showed me the way.
In fact, I’m not sure I ever would have come out to my extended family if my cousin hadn’t had the courage to do it first. I got to go to her wedding and watch how the family treated her and her new wife. To my surprise and immense relief… they were fine. It was going to be ok.
Oh god, I’m getting teary just thinking about how grateful I am to her.
I’m proud to be a part of the LGBTQIA community because it’s the kindest, most accepting community I’ve ever been a part of. Everyone has gone through similar self-doubt, everyone has been knocked down or hurt or bullied or rejected, everyone has had to find the strength within themselves to defy societal expectations and be who they are, and to love who they love.
When I look into the eyes of another person in the LGBTQIA community, no matter our differences, I feel a sense of companionship. And I feel a duty to be myself, completely and openly. Not just for my own peace of mind, but for them. So that they know they’re not alone.
Bella Thorne stepped up to the plate when she came out on Good Morning America. She’s 21 years old. There are people younger and older than her still grappling with their identities, who are going to see that video and find themselves one step closer to self-acceptance.
…As long as none of them scroll down to the comments under the video, it’ll be a really beautiful moment for them.