More clarification for the sake of education….

In the field of Queer studies and lingo there is a recent increase in the emphasis on the difference between sexual and romantic attractions, and how the two may not be related. For some people, who you want to love and who you want to have sex with are not the same. New terms and labels such as panromantic homosexual are being thrown around left and right , so what follows is an overview of terminology that you may see in your Queer travels.

Note: traditional definitions of homo- and hetero- sexuality include both romantic and sexual attraction, the separation of the two is a very new concept that is not yet widely used. This list is just meant to help if you encounter someone who identifies as having different romantic and sexual orientations.

Homosexual: being sexually attracted to members of the same sex

Heterosexual: being sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex

Bisexual: being sexually attracted to both sexes and/or genders

Pansexual: being sexually attracted to people regardless of gender or sex

Asexual: not experiencing sexual attraction

Homoromantic: being romantically attracted to members of the same sex

Heteroromantic: being romantically attracted to members of the opposite sex

Biromantic: being romantically attracted to members of both sexes and/or genders

Panromantic: being romantically attracted to people regardless of gender or sex

Aromantic: not experiencing romantic attraction

Any combination of these terms is an acceptable identity. I was once almost-kinda dating a girl who identified as bisexual but was more aptly described as biromantic heterosexual because she wanted to hang out and flirt but didn’t want to have sex with me (which was frustrating). I know of a girl who identifies as a panromantic lesbian (romantically attracted to anyone, but only sexually attracted to other women.

Clearly, the concepts of love and sex and attraction are more complicated than originally anticipated…

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Pansexuality vs. Bisexuality: an explanation for the sake of education

Pan– : from a Greek term meaning “all” or “every”

Bi- : also from a Greek term, meaning “two”

To identify as pansexual, as I proudly do, is to be “gender blind”. It refers to the potential to be sexually and/or romantically attracted to persons of all other gender identities and biological sexes. Gender and sex are insignificant or totally irrelevant when it comes to picking partners, and often the attraction is to the person’s personality rather than physical appearance or gender. Pansexuality rejects the notions of the gender binary and of specific sexual orientations.

Bisexuality implies a potential for romantic/sexual attraction to either both genders (man and woman) or both sexes (male and female). The literal definition of the word does not include intersex or gender nonconforming people the way that pansexuality does.

I am by no means saying that people who identify as bisexual are only attracted to two genders or are incapable of being attracted to people outside the gender binary. I just frequently hear absolutely nothing about pansexuals within Queer dialogues and I find it a bit frustrating. I understand that pansexuality is a “new” orientation, but I feel like we are largely forgotten about or lumped in with bisexuals.

There really is a difference between bisexuals and pansexuals, especially when it comes to preferences of sexual and romantic partners. Pansexuality and the way pansexuals feel attraction is often entirely gender blind and personality based. Almost, in my case, borderline demisexual (Def: a person who does not experience sexual attraction until they form a strong emotional connection with someone). I do not see people on the street and think, “Wow, he/she is really hot. I want to have sex/date him/her.” My sexual attraction to people is very very much based on personality and almost nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the aesthetics of attractive people, but I do not experience it as sexual attraction.

I’d like to see a greater discourse about pansexual issues and ideas, as I feel that it is quickly becoming the “hot new” sexual orientation. I think it poses an interesting dialogue between the traditional ideas of sexual attraction and gender.

And mostly I  guess I would like to see recognition of the legitimacy of my sexual orientation.