In most ways, bisexuality is the same as pansexuality. Bisexuality is defined as attraction to people who are of the same gender and people of a gender other than your own. So that can mean any two or more genders, there is a lot of biphobia, misconceptions about bisexuality, and bi-erasure (an effort to remove the label or general ignoring of bisexuality) both within straight society and the LGBTQ community. One of these misconceptions is that bisexuality reinforces the gender binary, or that bisexual people only date cis people (someone whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth). “There is a popular misconception that bisexuality means an attraction to two genders. There are occasionally some bi folks who are only into cisgender people, but I think those folks are the exception and not the rule.
Bisexual or pansexual doesn't equal open relationships. Bisexual and pansexual dating doesn't mean that your partner will want open relationships. Most bisexual or pansexual singles are committed companions who aren't eager to share their partner or date someone else. So if you're seeking open relationships, you'd better discuss the issue from the very beginning.This isn't temporary. Bisexual or pansexual single women and men aren't going to change. This is who they are and how they want to build their life.
Many bisexual or pansexual singles are shy to ask out people of the same gender. Most singles say that it's truly difficult to start chatting to a person of the same gender and then ask them out. A bisexual or pansexual can change depending on who they’re dating. Lots of bisexual or pansexual people say that they often change when they're in relationships with different partners. By this they mean, when they're dating either men or women. Women say that they're stronger and more decisive in relationships with women. On the other hand, with men bisexual or pansexual women become more timid and let the men be leading, but not most of all are.
Remember, while sex is typically assigned by doctors at birth depending on genitals, gender is a social construct. People should be able to identify with whatever gender they feel best suits them, be it male, female, non-binary, genderqueer, or genderfluid regardless of what the doctor in the birthing room says. A sexual orientation, such as pansexuality, is different than gender identity, but for pansexuals, gender identity is not what makes them into (or not into) someone. Dr. Powell points out that as it’s a newer term, younger generations, such as Generation Z may be more likely to identify as pansexual over bisexual.
While the term bisexual may have been created in an era where gender was not understood as it is today, the "bi" in bisexual doesn't mean that all bi people only date on the binary. It's true that some pansexual people prefer pansexual over bisexual due to the prefix, but others believe it's important to continue to identify as bisexual in an effort to fight bi erasure. "I've occasionally gotten some flack from pansexual people for continuing to identify as bisexual," Dr. Powell says. "They're like, 'You''e reinforcing the gender binary,' and I'm like, 'That's not actually what bisexual means, just the way that pansexuality doesn't mean that you're attracted to cookware.'"
We're sitting down with folks who have made #StillBisexual videos to find out more about their story. We recently talked to Sonya Saturday about her video.
How did you become involved in the #StillBisexual campaign?
I saw that [am Bi] put out an announcement saying “We're looking for people to do the videos" and I was like, "I like attention, I like the camera, I have things to say about being bisexual." So I did.
Honestly, I was trying not to feel too much about it simply because my family takes very little interest in anything that I do that I enjoy. So I've spent years showing them things that I've made and being like, "Look what I made, look what I did." And they just go, like, "No, this is not what we do, no, we don't want you to." So it's gotten to the point where now, whenever I show my mother something I try to not have any expectations about how she's going to react. But she seemed to think this was okay. So, sure. It was great, I guess.
Some bisexual and pansexual people also identify as queer. Queer is an umbrella term for a sexual orientation outside of the heterosexual norm that has political and LGBTQ activist roots. Not only was the word once a slur that has been reclaimed but identifying as queer often comes with a sense of community for many. You can identify as pansexual or bisexual and queer (or all three), or simply stick with queer.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your experience making a #StillBisexual video or your story that you told within it?
Making the video was really fun. I really enjoyed hanging out with Nicole [Kristal, #StillBisexual founder] and the crew who were there also making videos. They were shooting a bunch of videos that day at the LGBT center. I had my whole story written out ahead of time and I just got there and wrote it on the cards and I was ready to go. They just made it a really nice, fun experience for me. It was fast and it came out really nice.
That's awesome. So one of the things that you mentioned in the video was, and it had this beautiful cadence, was that you couldn't live as a bisexual man because you're really a queer woman. So I wanted to check in with you and see if you identify with both queer and bisexual as labels.
Yea I call myself queer, bisexual. I also call myself pansexual. I feel like pansexual is probably the best descriptor for at least my sexual orientation but not my romantic orientation. I tend to separate those two. I consider myself pansexual because I mean, people debate should we say bi, should we say pan, like does it matter? And I'm like, it really doesn’t matter to me if you call me pansexual or bisexual, they to me both sort of mean the same thing. I'm perfectly happy calling myself bisexual. I also consider myself homoromantic almost opposed to hetero[romantic]. I like ladies, I’m a lady and I like ladies. So there you go. I consider myself pansexual because I'm okay with any gender, but I'm homoromantic because I only want to be romantic with women.
I saw the overarching message of your video as normalizing how it can take a long time for us to begin to understand ourselves. Through your journey with seeing your bisexuality, which began at seven years old, then coming out to yourself as bi around 28. Then you started transitioning in terms of gender around 35. Did you see that same normalizing theme as the overarching message of your video. That finding yourself takes time? Yeah, that was the main message. And also someone, for God’s sake, please date me. And marry me. That was the message of my video. Those two things.
So if you're into more than one gender, how do you know which is the most appropriate label for you? Well, which word do you like best? Which one feels like home when you use it? Whatever that is, then that's the right label for you. And just like Monae, if you identify as bisexual, but then learn about pansexuality and thinks that’s more appropriate for you, or vice versa, you're allowed to change your labels. Such orientations may not be merely a phase (another common misconception), but they can be part of an exploration of your sexuality.
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