Not many people even in the LGBTQ+ community pay any mind to pansexuality and panromanticism. The mere mention of the terms remains almost the preserve of academics and pan people who are self-aware enough to see the language for what they know themselves to be. This is why days like Pansexual and Panromantic Day of Awareness and Visibility – marked to celebrate Pansexual and Panromantic members of the LGBTQ+ community – are important.
Panromantic is another ball game. The simple thing to know is that someone who is panromantic is romantically attracted to people of all gender identities. This doesn’t mean you’re romantically attracted to everyone, but that someone’s gender doesn’t really factor into whether you’re romantically attracted to them or not.
That is it.
I spoke to Tochi (not real name) over the weekend. Tochi is a pansexual non-binary person and I a nonbinary queer man, the conversation left me with a head full of pan trivia. Our conversation is a piece all its own for another day.
Here are 5 things you shouldn’t say to someone who comes out to you as pansexual, panromantic, or both.
1 “Isn’t that just bisexual?”
It is not and you definitely shouldn’t be asking someone who just came to you as pansexual that question.
Bisexuality is romantic attraction to “more than one gender or same and different genders” while pansexuality is romantic attraction to a person of any sex or gender.
Pansexuals can be attracted to cisgender people, transgender people, intersex people, androgynous people, and anyone else.
2 “Are you polyamorous?”
Polyamory – the practice of engaging in multiple romantic (and typically sexual) relationships, with the consent of all the people involved, is not a secual orientation.
A pan person can decide to be polyamorous if that’s something they want, but they’re not predisposed to it by virtue their sexual orientation. It is unkind to imply that they do just moments after they shared something so personal to them.
3 “Are you sure you are not just averse to commitment?”
Pan people are no more prone to being averse to commitment than their non-pan counterparts.
The question is needless, intrusive and rude.
4 “Have you slept with all the genders yet?”
Is that information that is valid in any way, shape or form? The answer is no.
5 “Are you experimenting?”
Even were people experiment – which pansexuals are not – it really is not in your place to question that.
The list isn’t exhaustive, but it paints a picture. If you are wondering what the best way is to support your friend or family member who came out to you tread the path of empathy.
- Affirm them as best as you can – let them know they are valid.
- Let them know you appreciate their trust in you.
- Don’t be pushy – allow them to open up more at their pace.
You are off to a good start.