I’ve been identifying myself as Pan for a few years now; before that, Bi. I’ve known I was attracted to other girls since fourth grade, but soon realized that Bi wasn’t my orientation.
I haven’t told my family, and don’t plan to, because it shouldn’t be a big deal in the first place. My parents think I’m Bi though, and I don’t plan to explain the difference, because they aren’t the brightest people.
But I would like to know an easier way to explain my sexuality to my friends and people at school. Because I am proud, it’s just hard sometimes to explain to closed-minded people.
Take your time getting to this, and thank you.
Letter submitted by:
Hi Bunni: I’m really glad you decided to write. Asking for help with communication is a very brave thing to do, especially when you aren’t sure how to explain your thoughts and feelings. You sound like a very thoughtful, clear-minded person who’s proud and knows herself well. I know that seeing eye-to-eye with your parents isn’t always going to happen in life, but I hope that they love you very much and are very supportive – despite how much or how little they understand about your sexuality. There’s so much more to you than your sexual orientation, but I do hope they also are able to learn and understand this aspect as well.
We live in a society that, unfortunately, likes to put people in boxes with simple labels: gay, bisexual, straight, etc. For some of us, the fit doesn’t seem to really work, and many times this insistence on a clear-cut, one-word label can actually prevent us from getting to know each other as the multi-faceted individuals we are. Being able to describe oneself with a word or term that is shared with others can help an individual form a community with people who might have similar experiences. And while that can be helpful, you may have to explain pansexuality rather than give a one-word answer if someone asks, “What are you?” or “What’s your orientation?” You sound like you want to have a dialogue with people rather than give one-word answers or brief ones. Do you know someone like a family member, a good friend, a teacher, a counselor at school even, who you trust and can talk to about this topic? That might help you clarify how you want to express yourself and you could bounce ideas off of that trusted person. It could also help you organize your thoughts and focus your responses when you receive further questions. A quick Google search yields a lot of grass-roots discussions about pansexuality, but not many formally organized groups. One site has a good definition and a few basic FAQ’s which may help you answer questions (http://queersunited.blogspot.com/2008/06/diversity-lesson-101-pansexuality.html).
A person’s sexual identity is certainly complex, and you deserve to share yours with more than a one-word label or answer. You might try TrevorSpace if you haven’t already (www.trevorspace.org). It’s the Trevor Project’s safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ (and genderqueer, and pan, and intersex) young people ages 13 to 24, their friends and allies. It’s a great supportive community where you can connect with others who might have had or are having the same questions that you’re having about expressing your sexuality, what it means, and what it means to you.
Bunni, if you ever want to talk, please don’t hesitate to call The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386), log onto TrevorChat, and give TrevorSpace a try. Please know that we are always here for you.