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Hello from the Philippines and Merry Christmas to those of you that celebrate! Welcome back to Beyond Boxes where I talk about labels and identity. I’m travelling until June. So if you want to see some of my travel pictures, check out my Instagram Today’s topic is bisexuality and I’ve decided to do this in two videos as there’s a lot I have to say on the topic. In this video I talk about the definition of bisexual and of some of the other labels used to describe those of us attracted to more than one gender.
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I also talk about my coming out story. In the Bisexuality Part 2 video, I talk about bisexual erasure and invisibility, the struggles of flirting and how awesome the bi community is.
So make sure to subscribe to my channel and watch that as soon as it’s up! There is a lot of discussion over the correct definition of ‘bisexual’. There’s still a common misconception that there are only two genders and therefore that bisexual is the attraction to both men and women. But this negates the existence of all the other genders which I’ll talk more about in another video. An updated definition is that bisexual is the attraction to both one’s own and other genders. This definition is far more inclusive and increasingly what people mean when they identify as bi. Neither of these definitions indicate “how bi” someone is though. Are they equally attracted to the full range of genders or do they have a gender preference? Are they more bicurious or are they fully bisexual? In my inbetweeness video I use the cloves vs clothes story to indicate how easy it is for two people to fall into conflict when they’re unaware they’re talking about different things.
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Being bisexual can be a bit like that sometimes…. I’ve dated women before who identify as bi but are much more on the heteroflexible end of the spectrum whereas I’m much more pansexual and inevitably it lead to heartbreak. That’s the problem with inbetweeness labels, when you fall on a spectrum, it’s hard to know exactly where you and other people fall. That’s why I like to think of bisexual as an umbrella term to indicate anyone attracted in any way to more than one gender, whether you’re pan/poly/omnisexual, heteroflexible, homoflexible or you’re just attracted to who you’re attracted to, which happens to be more than one gender and you don’t really do labels. Those that like labels can then use other terms to be more specific, like some of the ones I’ve just mentioned and am about to explain. If you’ve watched my intro video, you know that I identify as pansexual, which basically means my attraction to someone is not dependent on sex or gender.
I usually just say I’m bi/pansexual or depending on context I still sometimes just use the word bisexual as it's a more recognised term. Polysexual is the attraction to multiple but not all genders and therefore suggests gender preference, unlike pansexual. Omnisexual is being actively attracted to all genders rather than attracted to someone regardless of gender, like pansexual. Homoflexible and Heteroflexible is when people have a strong preference for one gender either their own (homoflexible) or the opposite (heteroflexible) but might occasionally make the odd exception and might enjoy kissing, flirting, maybe even sleeping with someone of other genders but probably wouldn’t be in a relationship or fall in love with someone of a different gender to their preferred one. None of these labels have strict definitions. They can be flexible and open to interpretation based on the people who identify with them. So, there’s a lot of terminology and a lot of labels to define one's sexuality and describe those of us attracted to more than one gender. And new ones are constantly appearing. I’m sure by the time I’ve uploaded this video, there’ll be a whole bunch more out there and there probably already are plenty that I haven’t yet heard of. So if you identify as bisexual in the umbrella sense but have a different label that you use to describe yourself, let me know in the comments what that label is and what it means to you! For some, having the right label is extremely important, for others, there can be a whole bunch of labels that apply and for others yet, they reject labels as unnecessary and complicated. I’ll talk about why I think that is in my video on the pros and cons of labels. But what’s your preference? A few months ago I attended a discussion group called bisexualitea t-e-a where we drank tea and talked about being bi. It was great! There were about 10 of us there. Some identified strongly with the label ‘bisexual’, others preferred pan or polysexual, some like me decided to use both bi and pan or polysexual. Some were more curious, some more questioning. And others totally rejected labels. But what we all had in common, was having our sexuality questioned throughout our lives, both by other people and by ourselves. In my Bisexual Part 2 video, I’ll talk more about bisexual erasure and invisibility by society but in this video I wanted to talk about my struggles in coming out to myself. Most of us in the group didn’t come out until our 20s and 30s both to other people and to ourselves. For me, the hardest part was coming out to myself. When I finally came out to my friends and family, no one was surprised because for years I’d been talking about crushes I had on women, wanting to sleep with other women. But I felt like I couldn’t identify as Bi because d only slept with men and that somehow saying I was bi would make me a fraud or an attention seeker or that I just wasn’t allowed, which of course is ridiculous! But it's a sentiment shared by many bi people I know. I guess it’s what we call internalised bi-erasure or bi-phobia. I was 22 when I “officially” came out. I remember calling my best friend from school to tell her that I’d just slept with a woman for the first time. I was really nervous about telling her. I called her up and told her, ‘I’ve got some big news, this might come as a shock but I’ve slept with a woman’. She replied, ‘yeah, you told me this years ago!’ I was surprised and a little taken aback at how blasé she was at my big revelatory moment but as far as she was concerned, wanting to sleep with women and actually sleeping with women was the exact same thing! But for me it wasn’t that simple. It wasn’t until I fell in love with a female friend that I started thinking that maybe the label straight didn’t really fit me but even then I felt really uncomfortable using the label bisexual. So for a long time I just didn’t bother with labels. And if I had to, then I guess the label pansexual felt like the best fit because it was more to do with my attraction to the person and how they made me feel, rather than their gender. And that’s still my preferred label but after a while it just became easier to use the term bisexual in many contexts. I’m not sure which exactly came first, using the label or meeting other (bi) people but once I adopted the label, I suddenly felt like I became part of this amazing bisexual community who just really got me and got the whole inbetweeness thing too. From the bisexualitea discussion groups to going to lots of queer parties where most people there are bi, it’s been really nice to meet people with shared experiences who get the struggles i’ve faced when it comes to my sexuality. And to be honest, they’re struggles shared by so many. Even as I feel more confident in my sexuality and the labels I use, it’s still something I question constantly and I think that’s something unique to those of us attracted to more than one gender. It can feel like I constantly have something to prove, to others and to myself. My most recent serious relationship was with a female/male couple, who both also happened to be bi and I’d catch myself kissing one of them and enjoying it so much I started to think maybe I am only attracted to one gender and then a couple of seconds later I’d be kissing the other and be like nope, I’m definitely bi! This happened time and time again both with them and in other areas of my life. The great thing with dating two bi people was that I could tell them though and they could definitely relate! I’ll talk more about finding support and community in my next video on Bisexuality which I’ll upload soon. So be sure to subscribe to my channel, give me a comment and a thumbs up and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. Thanks so much for watching! Bye for now. .