My bisexual friend was trashing on the term pansexual earlier. Maybe because a friend of mine who she isn't fond of has come out as pansexual (is it still coming out when she never really said it, but we knew because of her dating habits, and she gave it a word/term/label later? I dunno, not the point). The point is, she thought the concept was ridiculous. I tried to explain it to her, but she kind of had an unconvinced look on her face. If it comes up again, what should I say?
Hmmmm… I have heard people constitute that the term does not exist but ridiculous is a new one. I am guessing it is because she sees bisexual as the umbrella that should encompass pansexual tendencies as well?
I can imagine that is the case. Which makes sense because bisexuality is known as attraction to two or more genders - therefore - pansexuality could be construed as part of the bisexual realm. Ultimately, the two terms are very similar.
This question is anon asked to me quite often and therefore I have a FAQ section dedicated to these sorts of questions. Of course, I will gladly put it up here again and hopefully this will help you :)
FAQ 1: What is the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality?
Haha the never ending question and dangerous territory at times.
Recently I saw this picture:
Which may be the way some explain it, however, this is the dangerous territory. As we are aware, just the term “bi” on its own denotes two and then quickly you have the conclusion that it means men and women, but that is not the definition within the LGBT+ community.
Indeed, bisexuality and pansexuality can mean the same, but do not always mean the same. They are rather alike and I believe majority of bisexuals also discard the gender binary in regards to sexual attraction.
Bisexuality is a sexual orientation where one is attracted to the same gender and/or other gender(s).
The term pansexuality is used interchangeably with bisexuality, and, similarly, people who identify as bisexual may “feel that gender, biological sex, and sexual orientation should not be a focal point in potential [romantic/sexual] relationships”.
So then of course one asks, what is the difference at all? How are you helping make this any clearer? If anything, you made it more confusing!
Pansexuality: “not limited or inhibited in sexual choice with regards to gender or activity” or as I would say “Pansexuality means you have the ability to be with anybody, but it doesn’t mean you will be with anyone.”
Are these meanings mutually exclusive? No, not really. There are many overlapping aspects for these two non-monosexual sexualities. It depends on your definition of each, but it comes down to the fact that both are able to be attracted to more than one gender. That is the simple version.
I don’t have anything against bisexuality at all, I do notice that a lot of genderism occurs when explaining sexualities which include attraction to more than one gender, especially bisexuality due to the bi prefix. I try to correct this to others whenever I can, but there are a large variety of ways the world defines bisexuality.
Like the figure above shows, it overlaps. In my own story, I just felt immediately drawn to pansexuality myself because I wanted to completely remove physical gender from the equation all together.
There are more similarities than differences between bisexuality and pansexuality. I don’t really see it as a mess as I definitely support anyone with whatever sexuality or sexual preference, I merely want to educate people of the sexualities commonly used nowadays.
I think many people do try and define bisexuality in a binary method in order to establish the difference between the two when explaining pansexuality, but they are more like fraternal twins; incredibly similar with (sometimes) slight differences - also depending on how you see both. In my case, I was feeling the pansexuality one more than the other.
I hope that explains it to you from my view point. In regards to the fact that there are labels, a lot of people who do not feel within the society’s norm will choose a label they connect the most to which allows them to find a like minded community of peers. It is a primal programmed activity of our minds in order to protect ourselves ~ like safety in numbers.
If this doesn’t help with your friend, please let me know and we will try to solve it together :)