Poly and Pan and Queer—Oh My!

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted an essay or poem because of my dive into digital art, but I’m back today with a special topic.

It’s National Coming Out Day and that motivates me to get my truth out into the world (or at least to the few people interested enough to read this post). I will explore the terms polyamorous, pansexual, and queer in their meaning and why I chose them as identifiers for myself. For many of the people in my life, this will be the first time learning these aspects about me. In a way, I am virtually coming out of the closet with this piece. Now before anyone becomes offended for not being told in person I want to say this: this part of my identity is not the most interesting part about me, is not the biggest part about me, and doesn’t have anything to do with anyone not romantically/sexually involved with me. Therefore, my decision to keep this to myself until now is largely in part because it’s really none of anyone’s business who I find attractive or how I choose to consensually act on that attraction. 

So why now? Well, I’ve made a blog wherein I want to discuss issues that include sexuality and relationships and as such I feel it has become relevant to bring to conversation. I am fully open to any questions my family and friends may have. All I ask is that you a) read this first, and b) be respectful with your approach. 

And now, without further ado, here is my take on these three words.


What’s in a name, am I right? Labels can become exhausting and with more people feeling comfortable to explore their varying identities (though we still have a long way to go) we’re learning that certain existing labels don’t quite cover every aspect of a given identity and we have to create better ones. Enter pansexuality.

Pansexuality as a modern term can be considered synonymous to bisexuality, but goes further in that it excludes the gender binary. However, technically the term bisexual already goes beyond the gender binary as it means attraction to more than one gender, not attraction to two genders. Still, the prefix bi- trips some people up and they don’t feel comfortable using it. 

I, for one, feel that the term pansexual suits me more because it is explicitly including all genders. To me the term means being capable of loving or being sexually attracted to anyone regardless of their gender identity or expression. But let me give you some backstory to show you how I got here.

I was raised in the church and taught to believe that sexuality is a choice. As a bi person it’s easy to buy into that. I assumed I was hetero because that’s what’s natural and my interest in women was just a sin to ignore or overlook. And it was easy to ignore those feelings because I had boys to crush on instead (not to mention my depression and other identity issues to navigate). As such, my sexuality was never a big issue as an adolescent because there were other areas of my development to focus on. This really highlights the reality that it is so much harder for youth who are homosexual or transgender, thus having a major part of their identity shut down. But I digress. 

As an adult I started pulling away from the church (another topic I’ll explore in future posts) and exploring other philosophies. I discovered Everyday Feminism and devoured their content and realized just how much I had to learn about things I was taught to see in black and white. A whole spectrum of beautiful colors came into view, and I found myself there, happy and accepted. At first I thought I was bi because of my attraction to both men and women, but as my understanding of gender grew so did my understanding of my own attraction to others. And the truth is I am attracted to “masculine” men and “feminine” women, but also to everyone in between. I love people, and their gender identity has little influence on what I love about them. 

And this leads me to another aspect of my identity that I didn’t quite know how to navigate as a teen and am still exploring. I have always had a lot of love to give—an overwhelming amount. It got to the point that I would annoy romantic partners and even friends (who I was totally crushing on to be honest) with too much affection and attention. I was told to tone down my affection when really I should have been looking for people who would be interested in embracing that love.

Now, what better way to use all that capacity for love than with polyamory? Well, what exactly is polyamory? 

In a nut shell, polyamory is the philosophy and practice of loving more than one person at the same time. Living in a heteronormative society, though, the concept of polyamory seems wrong and unethical to many. But it is really quite the opposite. 

Many relationships involve cheating which I feel shows that a number of people find themselves at least interested in multiple people at a given time. The problem with cheating is the lack of consent. That’s what makes polyamory such a great option to consider if you’ve found yourself with feelings for two or more people simultaneously. It allows for the open and honest pursuit of these relationships with everyone’s consent. This is, of course, easier said than done since it isn’t a widely accepted form of dating, but it does give the opportunity for people to explore love as they need. For more information on considering if polyamory is right for you check out this article from Everyday Feminism.

I myself have yet to take on polyamory in practice because my partner and I have only recently come to an agreement about what he feels comfortable with and what makes sense for us. And it might change as we move forward, and that’s okay! What’s important is making sure that everyone involved is in agreement and consenting to the terms of the relationships.

As for that third word in this piece’s title, queer, it is truly an umbrella term for anyone in the LGBT+ community that chooses to embrace it. Traditionally meaning odd or unusual, and often in a derogatory way, the term has been reclaimed by many like gay and slut have. It is a way of proudly stating, “Hey! I’m different! And I rock!” So, by that meaning, I am most certainly queer!

All in all, these labels are very personal. You should never label a person unless they have claimed it for themselves. And if a person shares a certain part of their identity with you, respect who they are and their candidness. Being transparent is one of the hardest things to be in an unforgiving world, so always try to spread a little love.

And if you are someone thinking of coming out or exploring your identity further, check out these resources:

https://www.glaad.org

http://www.hrc.org

https://everydayfeminism.com

With love,

Alyssa

5 thoughts on “Poly and Pan and Queer—Oh My!

Add yours

  1. This piece really resonated with me. I have been considering writing a similar post but not got around to it yet, and have been having a lot of thoughts about the term ‘pansexual’ vs ‘bisexual’ so it was really good to read your reflections on it.

    Also, this + 100: “I love people, and their gender identity has little influence on what I love about them. ”

    Thank you for sharing!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for commenting! I’m so glad this resonated with you. Love is love and we all deserve the opportunity to consensually act on it! Also, feel free to reach out to me anytime if you want to talk about this topic, or any other topic, further. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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