Keep an open mind.
A lot of people misunderstand what “pansexual” means.
Some simplify it down to “pansexual means that you’re attracted to EVERYBODY,” which simply isn’t true.
Even the most open-minded gender-fluid LGBT romantic has the right to admit that they’re not attracted to their neighbor with the two-inch nose hair and the chronic halitosis.
What “pansexuality” really means is that a person is OPEN to being attracted to all gender identities.
Basically, they acknowledge that they can find themselves attracted to a person regardless of their gender.
The media sometimes tries to play this off as some new form of gender expression — particularly once celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Jazz Jennings started publicly identifying as pansexual — but the concept of being pansexual has been around for a very long time.
And it’s not that hard to understand.
In fact, one could argue that EVERYONE has a little pansexualism in them somewhere.
Now, before you start arguing that you’re not THAT open-minded, take a look at these 3 reasons why pansexualism is probably more universal than you might think.
1. We’ve all fallen in love despite ourselves.
Everyone has a list of dumb relationship deal-breakers in their head.
“I only like blondes.” “I hate tattoos.” “I can’t stand people who smoke.”
And what happens almost every time? You fall in love with a blonde tattooed smoker.
It’s an incredibly common experience to find yourself attracted to someone that you’d NEVER expect.
You meet someone who seems so incongruous to your life — they don’t dress like you, act like you, look like you — and yet something indefinable inside of them just draws you in.
Suddenly, you can’t stop thinking about the type-A manager in your office or the balding, sarcastic clerk at your local record store. You can’t explain the attraction, but it’s there.
When you think about universal experiences like that, suddenly pansexualism isn’t so hard to understand.
Because being pansexual is all about being attracted to someone regardless of your preconceived standards — sometimes even gender.
So, if you can fall for someone who feels like your complete opposite, it doesn’t seem so strange to fall for someone for reasons other than their gender, does it?
2. Even if you’re not into it, you can see where people are coming from.
When people start discussing pansexualism, too often they’re restricted by how they feel personally.
“But I don’t… I could never… It’s not for me…”
But, when you stop to think about it, even if you can’t imagine yourself being pansexual, it’s not that hard to put yourself in other people’s shoes.
For example, there are several media figures today that we’re all familiar with that are transsexual, transgender, or gender-fluid. One prominent figure is Laverne Cox, LGBT activist and actress from Orange Is The New Black.
Even if you’re a heterosexual man who hasn't considered being attracted to a transgender woman, you could honestly ask yourself “Is Laverne Cox is attractive?”, your answer is probably going to be YES.
Even if you personally aren't attracted to her, for whatever reason, you can objectively see that she is attractive to lots of people.
She’s a beautiful, glamourous woman. Her gender identity ultimately doesn’t matter. What matters is that she’s hot.
That’s just one example of how we need to open ourselves up to start seeing people beyond their labels. And to see our own attraction beyond labels.
But, again, being pansexual isn’t about being attracted to EVERYONE.
It’s about being open to the possibility of being attracted to a person regardless of their gender or gender identity.
And, if you can imagine someone else doing it, that means that your mind is open to the idea. It might not be for you (for now), but a little empathy goes a long way.
3. We’re all a little pansexual in our minds.
Have you ever had an erotic dream? While often they draw upon details from your real-life — that sexy librarian you met last week drags you into the stacks for some hot Dewey decimal action — those dreams can also push our sexual buttons in weird and abstract ways.
Because sex dreams aren’t just mind pornos.
They’re not normally just professionally staged reproductions of something you saw late at night on Cinemax.
They stretch the limits of our imagination. You’ll wake up fully aroused with just a vague sense of what got you so worked up.
You might remember colors, movement, faceless people. There might not even be people involved at all.
Sometimes, you just remember sensations.
You have NO idea what was going on in your head last night, but it was HOT.
In a way, you can consider those dreams to be pansexual dreams.
Because they weren’t limited by gender. Your mind didn’t care about gender labels or contextualizing your erotic urges within the gender spectrum.
It just pushed your buttons — in undefinable and effective ways — and gender doesn’t always play a role in those dreams.
And if your unconscious mind is open to blurring a few gender lines to fulfill your fantasies, why isn’t your conscious mind?
Is EVERYONE really pansexual? Probably not.
There are a wide variety of gender identities and sexual preferences in the world.
But, that being said, pansexualism shouldn’t be particularly hard for anyone to understand. We have all had experiences where we’ve been attracted to someone and couldn’t explain it. We all understand that attraction isn’t always the easiest thing to define.
So, if we know that attraction follows its own rules, why can’t we be open to the idea that there are people who don’t consider gender to be a factor when they’re deciding who they’re attracted to?
It just makes sense and it makes me think that more of us might secretly identify as pansexual than we’d ever imagine.