By Daniel Evans, Programs Intern
This post was originally published in September 2015 and was updated April 2018.
From Janelle Monae to Jazz Jennings, more and more celebrities and people on the ground are coming out as pansexual. By coming out as pan, they are helping raise visibility to the various identities that co-exist under what’s know as the bi (or bi+) umbrella. In honor of BiWeek, GLAAD is exploring what pansexuality means to the people owning the label.
A common misconception about bi folks is that they seek to reinforce a rigid gender binary, but the reality is that many bi people have “the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree,” as advocate Robyn Ochs describes. The pan identity presents an additional opportunity to express attraction to multiple genders.
So what does it mean to identify as pansexual? While pan folks have long been around, not everyone is familiar with the term, as the pan identity doesn’t get much media coverage or representation. While being bisexual means being attracted to more than one gender, being pansexual means being attracted to all gender identities, or attracted to people regardless of gender.
But who better to explain pansexuality than people who are pan? Check out what these notable celebs have to say about who they are.
“Being pansexual basically means to me that you are attracted to anyone, no matter their sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, everything. There’s no limits. I’ll date anyone. It’s more that I love someone for their soul. Physically, I think I’m more attracted to boys but sometimes I’m attracted to girls too, so it’s weird,” the young trans advocate and star of I Am Jazz told Cosmo.
“To kind of identify as pansexual, to me, means to just want love. To have a connection with anyone you can find it with.” The rapper and singer, who is agender, has spoken often about their identity, including to BuzzFeed, and in their remix of “Same Love.” Around the time their song was released, Angel told The Guardian, “Love is boundary-less. If you can make me feel, if you can make me laugh—and that’s hard—then I can be with you.”
In April 2018, right before the launch of her long-awaited “Dirty Computer” album, Janelle told Rolling Stone, “Being a queer black woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.” The outlet reported that while Janelle “initially identified as bisexual, she clarifies, ‘but then later I read about pansexuality and was like, “Oh, these are things that I identify with too.” I’m open to learning more about who I am.'”
“I’m very open about it – I’m pansexual.” Miley made headlines that brought arguably unprecedented mainstream attention to the identity when she came out as pansexual to Elle UK. She also described being genderqueer in an interview with Out, saying, “I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy,” and then posted on Instagram, “NOTHING can/will define me! Free to be EVERYTHING!!!!”
BiWeek, presented by GLAAD and BiNet USA, celebrates all members of the bi+ community. To learn more about #BiWeek and how you can accelerate acceptance for the bi community, visit glaad.org/biweek.