Pansexual people are those who are sexually, romantically, or spiritually prone to get attracted to or fall in love with any or all types of genders whether male, female, agender, genderqueer, transgender, or intersex. In other words, the term refers to those who do not have a single sexual orientation and are equally attracted to all genders and find them equally attractive.
The emotional behavior of a pansexual person suggests that gender or biological sex are not relevant and should not be considered for determining sexual or emotional attraction for someone. The relationships of pansexual people are above and beyond these limitations of choice among specific genders. As a result, the pansexual often find all genders equally attractive and do not let the gender tagging stand as a barrier to establishing meaningful relationship with others, even going on to form lifelong partnerships with partners belonging to different genders.
Unlike other people from different sexual orientations, pansexual people are considered to be gender blind. They emphasize on feelings and romantic connections rather than biological organs distinguishing genders of people. There are casual slogans and one-liners from them saying “Hearts not parts”, or “Let’s get one thing straight, I am not”. As a result of placing more emphasis on romantic connections and general likes and other commonalities, they are able to form close relationships with others belonging to different gender categories.
History and terminology
The origin of the word pansexual is from the Greek prefix “pan”, which means “all” or “every”. Pansexual people are also called as “omnisexual”, which is again derived from the Latin word, “omni” meaning “all”.
The terms “pansexualism” and “pansexual” were first used in 1917 and 1926 respectively, and since then have been growing popularity, especially in recent years among different communities and regions as a way for such people to associate better with their sexual identity. The idea behind pansexualism back in those days of early discovery was that the sex instinct plays a primary role in all human activities whether it is mental or physical. This approach was credited to a man called Sigmund Freud, who was an Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis. He stressed that pansexualism is a condition wherein all conducts and experiences of such individuals are as per their sexual emotions.
Since then, pansexuality started to be considered as a new sexual identity having its own rights. And today, it happens to be more widespread across the world with many pansexuals coming forward to declare themselves as one.
Does pansexual mean “no preference of individuals”?
Although pansexuals include all varieties of sexualities that can biologically exist in human beings and they do not limit themselves in choosing their partners on the basis of any gender or sexuality, it does not mean they like anyone or everyone all the time. Their identity as pansexual is only used to show their freedom of choice among different genders and their equal preference of all available genders. However, some pansexual people may have physical preferences for other people of different genders.
However, some pansexual people may have physical preferences for other people of different genders. What marks them separately from other genders apart from their ability to connect and enjoy intimate relations with all genders is their inborn reasoning in forming close emotive bonds.
Are “pansexual people” the same as “polysexual people”?
We know that “poly” means “many” and “pan” means “all”. Hence, a polysexual person is not the same as a pansexual. Polysexuality and pansexuality are similar in definition meaning “encompassing more than one sexuality”, but “not necessarily encompassing all sexualities”. Therefore they are not the same, and to be more specific, pan sexuals can form a close relationship with other genders whereas polysexuals cannot.
Polysexual people can be attracted to more than one gender variant but cannot necessarily attach themselves to some other genders. However, a pansexual person is attracted to any person without any significance of their gender. A pansexual person can be a polysexual person, as pansexuality is a broader category. It clearly refers to those who are attracted to any gender, and can form a close physical relationship with them.
How are “pansexual people” different from “bisexual people”?
The word “bisexuality” is composed with the prefix “bi”, meaning sexual or emotional attraction to “two sexes”, which are male and female or to “two genders” namely men and women.
Pansexuality is considered to be a branch of bisexuality. Pansexual people are not limited to the gender binary. They can form a close physical relationship with partners from any gender category and are not known to have one preference or the other.
Pansexuality is a wider category as compared to bisexuality, as bisexual people sexually and emotionally desire both males and/or females. However, pansexual people are sexually inclined towards not only male or female individuals but also towards third genders, intersex, androgynous, transsexuals, transgenders, and many other sexual identities.
A pansexual person can also call oneself a bisexual person, but a bisexual person cannot identify oneself as a pansexual as their choice is only limited to male or female individuals. Thus, it can be seen that a pansexual identity is more inclusive compared to a bisexual identity. More importantly, since they are more inclusive, they often stress on closer emotive bonds and seek to form the same when commencing a relationship with a partner from another gender category.
Bisexual people are capable of having intimate relationships with either of the two genders. However, sometimes, even though it is possible for bisexual people to engage in promising and meaningful relationships with both genders, they still have a preference for one particular gender over the other gender and can be a case-by-case basis. Pansexual people identify themselves as pansexuals to become knowingly different from bisexual people as they want to categorize themselves to be open to genders beyond males and females.
Their purpose is to pursue their attraction towards various gender and sexual identities, whether or not they fall within the gender binary.They prefer to remain open to all experiences and this often involves forming close and physical relationship with people belonging to other genders and as a result of the loss of the gender barrier, they place more emphasis on emotive bonds and use this to define their relationship.
Bisexuality does not put emphasis on the awareness and recognition of different sexual and gender identities other than male and female sexes. It only emphasizes on its inclinations towards the two universally and generally accepted gender identities of men and women. However, pansexuality promotes the awareness of other less famous gender identities and sexualities.
They consider the existence of such sexualities equal to binary genders in the sense of attraction. As a result, pan sexulas are often open to experimenting with other gender types other than the mainstream ones and often go on to form meaningful relationship with them, which only clearly establishes their ability to be all inclusive.
Both pansexual and bisexual communities have their different pride flags for their different ideologies. That’s only to be expected since they are both different.
Sometimes, the two types of sexualities are narrowed down as for the sake of convenience and greater acceptance. People with pansexual identities describe themselves as bisexual people as bisexuality is far more known and recognized. Moreover, rarely but occasionally, some people having a bisexual identity find themselves to be interested in dating someone outside the scope of the generally accepted biological male and female sexes.
There are different schools of thoughts with regard to the difference of both bisexual and pansexual identities. However, some people in the bisexual community are of the thought that pansexual labeling might lead to bisexual erasure and the bisexual label has always included those people who feel inclined towards third genders and gender identities outside the gender binary. On the contrary, some people from the pansexual identity claim that no one is avoiding the bisexual label. The stigma about it is just a form of prejudice and means of pansexual erasure.
While the argument may seem convoluted at best, it should be noted that both these genders might feel increased sensitivity due to the fact that they feel their identity can be morphed into something else altogether. But this is not to mean that bisexuals and pan sexuals cannot get together since pan sexuals can be equally attracted to the bi sexuals and vice versa. Rather it is all about the identity and how closely each person associates themselves with it and as a result, this may limit, even inhibit some of the bi – pan sexual interactions and keep it to a minimum.
The label of pansexual identity is more accommodating for all types of gender identities like those who do not fall in the male or female gender identities. These types include people having homosexual or heterosexual relationships and their frequent switch of partners from male to female or from female to male. It is a matter of personal choice to label oneself into one of the identities.
However, it has been noticed that some choose their sexual identity according to the gender to which their partner has switched, while on the other hand, many are choosing to label themselves as pansexual or any other non-monosexual identities. This is one of the reasons why pan sexuals feel freer and less constrained to choose and select partners according to their gender identity.
As a result, they are able to reach out to other genders and even to the extent of forming close relationships with those from other genders and there have been reports of pan sexuals formalizing their relationships with a marriage.
This clearly emphasizes that pan sexuals often look for the emotive connection as their sole deciding factor when it comes to their partners and may not depend on physical attraction as their deciding factor.
It is a different thing to be attracted to more than one gender and another thing to accept the fact of being a bisexual or pansexual. It depends on self-perception and the individual’s personal choice to accept the tag of such identities. In most countries, people disguise their identities and choices and show themselves as any one of the generally accepted genders even if their sexual choice or romantical inclination is towards more than one gender.
Sometimes, it is not as simple as it theoretically sounds, as being attracted to both genders does not necessarily mean that one will accept himself or herself as bisexual. Similarly, if a person is attracted towards individuals of different gender identities, it does not necessarily imply that the person will accept the pansexual identity for himself or herself.
It remains a choice for people to identify themselves according to their gender attraction and according to how they can represent themselves to the society. As with other genders, the issue of identity often will come up and depends on how the person chooses to identify themselves, whether as a pan sexual or if they prefer to keep their sexual orientation under wraps.
The point being that pan sexuals are just the same as other genders and like them the person is seeking validation of some form from the society regarding the choices they make. This is why many of them may have an issue with being more open about their orientation as it can cause an issue among their friends and family who may not be readily acceptable to the fact that their loved one is a pan sexual. It all comes down to what the person chooses to do with life in general and if they choose to be openly identified regarding their gender choices.
Visibility and representations
In today’s time, there are different organizations in many parts of the world that are formed with the objective of representing different sexual identities of people. For example, there are some organizations that attribute themselves to be from those who identify themselves as pansexuals. There are some bisexual organizations that exist, which embrace other alternative sexual identities including the pansexuals, omnisexuals, multisexuals, etc.
These organizations do provide some form of support, emotive and physical to enable those struggling with their identity to come out and be more open. And these organizations also host various meetings and group get together as a way to establish a closer bond, one that’s born out of mutual respect for each other, irrespective of the gender orientation.
Each gender community has a pride flag of their own and the flags of each community represent their ideas of favoring relationships with the different types of sexuality and genders. These flags are also helping these communities to increase their recognition and visibility, and ultimately help to acknowledge and provide comfort to these types of people about their coexistence in otherwise straight relationships-dominated society. With increased exposure, pan sexuals may find that the society at large is more acceptable of their orientation.
The pansexual pride flag is striped horizontally with rose, gold, and blue indicating the following gender choices: female gender, third genders, and male genders, respectively. The category of third genders includes intersex people, androgynous people, genderqueer people, transsexual people, and others who identify themselves as both genders.
In the movie “Deadpool”, which is directed by Tim Miller and cast by Ryan Reynolds, who is also the executive producer of the movie, the hero is declared to be pansexual. In the comics, which is the story behind the movie, the sexuality of the hero is not very well defined and the character is not showing too much of an inclination towards any particular gender like men, women, or for any third genders. It is one thing for a mainstream movie to showcase a character who may be more representative of pan sexuals but for a movie to build around a character that’s decidedly pan sexual is something else altogether.
The movie, which has taken more than normal tenure to be ready for the screen has played around the excitement of the unusual sexual identity of its hero. The movie certainly gives hints that its leading character is as interested in men as any woman. Some people have described that the identity of a bisexual would be a too narrow description for Deadpool and has compared its leading character to a sexual swingball.
Deadpool showcases different kinds of romantic scenes not only with a man or woman but also a unicorn. Although the movie restricts itself to displaying a single kissing scene between its hero and another man, and did not involve the hero to be sharing bed with another man, it is rated R (which means only 15 and above years old can watch) for its sex scenes with a woman named Vanessa Carlysle, who is Deadpool’s girlfriend in the movie. While the rating system may be flawed, it is interesting to see that examples of creative work have started to showcase examples of various genders, and is more in sync with our reality at the moment.
The star of the movie before its release claimed to show scenes of “graphic, expertly lit French unicorn sex”. However, the interspecies intimacy witnessed in the movie is limited to a scene wherein Deadpool is shown rubbing a unicorn’s horn until it ejaculates rainbows.
In the movie, the character of Deadpool is seen demanding for a blow job, which in the scene is the name of a mixed drink topped with whipped cream from men. However, he is not seriously interested or actively hunting men sexually. Deadpool is supposedly the first superhero movie to openly showcase the sexual life of its hero in such a way that the hero’s sexual desires appear to be a normal affair that people can do for fun.
It is in talks that for the next sequel of the movie, actor Ryan Reynolds is interested in having a boyfriend and does not mind doing intimate scenes with him. Reynolds said, “I love that about Deadpool. I love that he can break any boundary. In the future, I hope we get to do that more.” By ‘that’ he meant to do more of his character’s monogamous chemistry with a woman. He also added that it would be “nice” for Deadpool to have a boyfriend. On this idea, he added “I certainly wouldn’t be the guy standing in the way of that. That would be great.”
It is the fact that pan sexuals do consider gender classification as a boundary that deserves to be broken that sets them apart from others. But with society yet to accept some of the lesser genders it will be a while before pan sexuals are accepted for who they are, worldwide. This process is ongoing and will probably take a long while but the fact that mainstream movies like dead pool have started featuring characters with undefined sexuality should enable the world to sit up and take note. The movie was interesting from start to finish but what made it stand out is the fact that the main character is pan sexual and it has certainly got a lot of people talking.
Does this mean that pan sexuals can be accepted more widely now? No, just that the process has begun and it should take a while before that can happen.
The character of Ajax, who is the villain in the movie, is played by Ed Skrein. He honestly confesses that he was new to the term “pansexual” before commencing his work on this movie. He said, “You know? This is 2016. We all need to grow up. I am going to be a spokesperson for pansexuality from here on out.”
Movies like Deadpool could bring more awareness and progress in people’s thinking if future sequels promote added freedom to the character to become what he wants to be. Pan sexualism is a new gender and one that’s more inclusive of any other. The fact that many pan sexuals have formed meaningful relationships with others is only indicative of the fact that the time for change has indeed come.
- Pansexuality is considered to be a branch of bisexuality.
- Unlike other people from different sexual orientations, pansexual people are considered to be "gender blind".
- The term "pansexualism" and "pansexual" were first used in 1917 and 1926, respectively.