“P for Pan, S for Sexuality”: The Meanings And Pleasures Of Pansexuality

May 24th, International Pansexuality Awareness and Visibility Day: Today, just be yourself and follow your desires without analyzing them.

You meet different people every day and find yourself attracted to some of them regardless of their gender. You love the freedom to simply enjoy and revel in their beauty without confining them to the limits of gender. You find the idea absurd to limit both: them and your attraction to the social norms and ideas of gender and sexuality. You see gender as one of their characteristics. Their gender plays no role in your romantic attraction towards them. That is when, perhaps, you realize you might be a ‘pansexual’…

We were wondering how people arrived at this understanding of themselves, so we asked around, and got some compelling insights. Farhaana shared that she always knew that her attraction to people is not limited by their gender or sex, but she lacked the words to explain it. Similarly, Chayanika said, “I vaguely remember having crushes on both boys and girls since kindergarten so on some level I’ve always known and just lacked the vocabulary to explain this part of me. I came across the bisexual label first and used that for a while as a way of understanding myself. As I became more familiar with the LGBTQ movement, I felt that the label was somewhat insufficient for my identity, and I started using the word pansexual.”

Like most sexual identities, this one comes with its own share of trials and tribulations. Sometimes, it is the struggle to wrap one’s own head around it, and other times, it is about communicating this aspect of your identity to people who matter. As Sanjana writes, “The biggest struggle was the phase of confusion where I was unable to figure out what did I exactly want, and why am I attracted to certain kind of people. Now the struggle is to make people understand who I am and what my choices are.”

Cultivating a beautiful relationship with one’s sexuality and varied attractions can be a struggle for many. Some of us get lucky sooner, while others continue on their journey of self-discovery. Finding the right labels and resonating voices helps to communicate the personal. As Chayanika notes: “As someone who suffers from anxiety, I have definitely struggled with my sexuality for as long as I can remember. A large part of that struggle was not understanding what my feelings meant, or where they fit in a heteronormative world. Finding a label that describes me and using it has definitely alleviated some of it.”

Addressing misconceptions

However, being openly pansexual often brings jarring experiences of questions, misunderstandings and misconceptions from people around. Pansexuality is often equated with polyamory (having a desire for more than one romantic or sexual relationship at a time) and confused with bisexuality (having an attraction to two genders). As Sanjana adds, “Whenever I tell people I’m pansexual they often try to correct me saying “you mean bisexual” and then it takes me hours to explain what pansexuality is, and even after that, many are not convinced.”  

The nastiest misconception floating around is pansexuals are simply greedy promiscuous animals that are attracted to every walking thing on this earth. We believe that after reading this post, you would never *think* that again. Ever. Again.

And please let us drop the absurd idea that pansexual people are not capable of monogamous relationships just because they are attracted to everyone! Honesty, loyalty and commitment are human qualities and available to all irrespective of their sexualities.

Pleasures abound the pansexual persons. The one definite thing working for them is limitless possibilities of associations for it is not limited by gender and sex. They are not forcing themselves into any stereotypes, rather giving you the freedom to exist as you are.

People define labels. Labels do not define people. 

Let us rephrase Nietzsche here. Attraction towards one is a piece of barbarism: for it is practiced at the expense of all others.

The world is a much happier and inclusive space if there’s love for all. Happy May 24th, International Pansexuality Awareness and Visibility Day to all!

 Artwork by: Anjali Kamat

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