Did you know that May 24th is Pan (Pansexual and Panromantic) Day of Visibility? Well now you do! You ever noticed the P in the landscape of LGBTQIAPK+, and wondered about identity, experiences and their journeys? We did, and thought it is a good reason to bring a broader spectrum of visible and accessible pansexual persons and talk about their journey(s), how they came to identify with the label: pansexual, and what it really means!
The first in the series is Sanjana.
Bio: Sanjana is a 21 year old cis-female.
(Credit : Artwork by Anjali Kamat)
Gaysi: What does it mean to be pansexual? (Define it in your own words – a short quote)
Sanjana: For me, it’s your usual clichéd loving people for who they are, without being limited by their gender. Also, gender is one of the most pointless societal constructs in this day and age, and I’ll be damned if I let heteropatriarchal Western-colonised constructs dictate who I choose to date. Love is love is love. Plus, I’m a psychology student. It’s a lot of fun telling people how it originated in Freud’s work. Especially if they’re homophobic psychology enthusiasts.
Gaysi: How did you start to identify as a pansexual?
Sanjana: When I was 15, I read about bisexuality and started to question my identity. At 17 when I thought I had figured out my sexuality, one of my favourite poets made a Tumblr post about her pansexuality. The term initially confused me but then appealed to me much, much more as an identity than bisexuality did. It’s been four years since then, and I now use both terms with flexibility (depending on the company I’m in).
Gaysi: What about that is a struggle for you? What about it is most exciting?
Sanjana: Initially, the struggle was to even accept it as a concept. I’d been brought up (as most of us have) in the gender=sex paradigm, and the concept of being attracted to ‘both’ genders had already blown my mind. Adding the gender spectrum to the mix was initially hard for me to handle. It took me a few years, but I think I’ve figured it out now.
Currently, of course, my biggest struggle is figuring out the sexuality of people I’m attracted to. If only gaydar was an actual physical thing I had.
Gaysi: How does it function within your understanding of yourself?
Sanjana: Coming out to my closest friends, then my other friends, then my classmates and finally my family were a big part of my beginning to develop a self-confidence and assurance that I never had before. So in that sense, it’s a pretty big part of my identity. I chose to revel in the acceptance of my sexuality as the first step in my eventual acceptance of myself.
Gaysi: Is your desire fluid? Or is it constant in your experience?
Sanjana: Is anyone’s desire really constant? Mine has never been, as far as I can recall.
Gaysi: What do you find desirable in people?
Sanjana: The ability to hold up their end of an engaging conversation, a sense of humour, and an up-to-date knowledge of memes!
Gaysi: What kind of people have you been romantically involved with?
Sanjana: Gender-wise: primarily cis-males and cis-females, with the occasional questioning individuals.
Gaysi: In your experience, how do people misunderstand pansexual persons? What are the common misconceptions?
Sanjana: For misconceptions to exist, there probably needs to be more awareness about the term in the first place.
As I said before, I use bisexual and pansexual interchangeably. That, apparently, is confusing to people (“so you’re BI now? I thought you were PAN last week!”). When I am just too tired to sit and explain pansexuality to yet another confused individual, it’s a lot easier to just say I am a bisexual. A lot of people, however, seem to think bisexuality=erasure of non-binary identities, which is categorically untrue. But since we are talking about pansexuality, I won’t digress (Of course, this doesn’t mean they are the same thing! It’s a matter of identification and personal preference).
Some things I hear quite often is “Does that mean you date multiple people together????” I usually try and explain how polyamory and pansexuality are vastly different things, and even if I were polyamorous, it has nothing to do with my sexuality. Now that open relationships are becoming more normalised, people usually get this.
And of course, there’s the classic, “Does that mean you have sex with PANS???? LOL LMAO HA HA HA ROFL.”
You’re not funny. You’re not original. Move on.
Gaysi: Do you have any PAN role models?
Sanjana: I don’t know many people who openly identify as pan. Actually, I only know one, and she’s my cousin-an incredible person who is currently working hard to put gender neutral bathrooms in her college. I’m super proud of her, and I look up to her, too.