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Often times, I am questioned about my sexual orientation. Am I attracted to males? Do I prefer females? The answer is yes and yes; however, I do not identify as bisexual.
It is not talked about extensively, but I identify as pansexual.
What exactly is pansexuality? Well, I am open to dating across the gender spectrum. This includes trans people, agender people, etc. Though for a while I have identified as bisexual for quite some time, I thank the internet for explaining my sudden attraction of transgender females to make sense.
So, the big question now is, how did I come out? Well, the very first time I can remember “coming out,” was right after my junior year of high school. My very first relationship was with a girl named Bianca, which sparked my sophomore year of high school, but I always had the meanest crush on a girl in my grade named Melissa as well. Throughout the duration of my relationship with Bianca, I only told a select few of my friends that I was in a relationship with a girl. From those select friends, some of them were caught by surprise to see that I was in a relationship with a girl as opposed to a guy; however, they were accepting nonetheless. Then again, my friends hinted that they knew about my bisexuality, never my pansexuality.
I remember one time at lunch, sitting with all my friends and the topic of bisexuality got brought up. When my friends referred to my relationship with Bianca, some only looked at it as me being bisexual, but every time they said bisexual, I always felt not too sure if bisexuality was correct. As the conversation continued, I stopped my friend Melanie from the conversation and opened up to them about pansexuality. I explicitly told all my friends - mind you, they are all part of the LGBTQ community as well - that I find all people attractive. Once they comprehended my definition of pansexuality, this turned out to be a big stepping stone for the remainder of my journey to figuring out my sexual orientation.
The next time I remember coming out was with my family, well my sisters. I was sitting in the back of the car, my two oldest sisters in the passenger seat as we're driving to the Christmas Tree Shop - mind you, I am 19 at the time. My sister Maria turns around to me and though I don’t recall the remainder of our conversation, jokingly says that I am a closeted lesbian. I chuckled, but inaudibly I mumbled "I’m pansexual." When I looked up, I saw both my sisters' reactions, seeing them kinda lost and confused as to what I just said. With a deep breath, I repeated myself and both my sisters' gave me a smile. Both of my sisters reassured me that they still loved and supported me, no matter who I am with. They don't identify me by my sexuality, but they identify and love me for being free-spirited and open with them.
Since my sophomore year of high school, I had been struggling enormously with the restrictive nature I believed went along with bisexuality as a label. At the time, I thought it meant you liked men and women. Period, end of story. When I had an enormous crush on a trans friend, it confused me a little. Did I like her for her, did it matter that she was male-bodied? It muddled things up for me, and made the bisexual label itch. So I adopted pansexual as my label. For a few years, I have been out as bisexual. All my friends knew and didn’t care - as I said before, most of them were gay, lesbian, or bisexual themselves - but they were and still are very supportive of me. But when I recall my high school years and talking explicitly on the term pansexual, remembering how discrete I was about my relationships with girls, my fear of being rejected for finding a transgender insanely attractive, just finally coming to terms with my pansexuality felt so right, I had no more fear of opening up more about my sexuality. I like people for who they are, not their genitalia.
For the most part, I have had very positive responses to coming out. Many times, I have been me educating my friends, family, coworkers, and peers on what it means to be pansexual. But not all experiences were good. I had a classmate in a EN-101 class my freshman year of college who would call everyone and everything "gay," claiming he had a right to use the word however he pleased. He specifically directed it at me on a number of occasions, but I honestly didn't give a fuck. I just saw him as an uneducated and close-minded soul who is not open to broadening his horizons. To this day, I’m also not out to my dad or my mom. There have been a number of occasions in my youth when I can recall my father calling gays in general "patos," but I still don’t feel comfortable coming out to him or my mom just yet. And I've learned, that’s okay! I’ve mostly come to terms with this part of my life not being a thing I can share with my parents.
As I go to pride parades and wear a rainbow bracelet for five years straight, it’s just become a very rare topic that's discussed amongst my family. And that’s alright! Now that I've identified as pansexual, I’m in period of transition in my life. I now find myself being more open, free-spirited, and unashamed to be who I am. I’m finally able to breathe and just accept myself, without having to feel a weight on my shoulders.