be kind to your bi and pan friends – bisexual awareness day

Today is bisexual visibility day, so I wanted to discuss the stigmas and resulting issues surrounding the bi and pan communities. I myself identify as pansexual, and feel that I share many of the experiences that are discussed in the bi community, particularly exclusion from queer and straight communities alike.

  • It’s a phase. No, it really really isn’t, I promise. That isn’t to say that no one has ever experimented with a partner that identifies in different way from the partners they are normally with, and then decided that they didn’t have interest there, but that does not mean that those who actively identify in the bi-pan spectrum are going to “change their minds.”
  • Threesomes. Hey, absolutely no judgement, this can be fun and totally your thing. But someone telling you that they are bisexual or pansexual is not an invitation for you to ask them to participate in a threesome. Just because we appreciate a multitude of genitalia and identities does not mean that we necessarily want to experience yours and your buddies’.
  • Being in a relationship means we have become the sexuality associated with the gender we are currently with. Again, world of nope. I am currently in a relationship with a cis-hetero man, and I am a cis-pan woman. See how the pan part stays? Being with a partner of a certain “type” does not mean that the part of you that was attracted to people outside of that “type” shuts off. Just like anyone can be in a relationship and still notice other people who they find attractive. Whether or not that is acted on is entirely up to the person and (hopefully) their partners, and is another topic entirely.
  • We will pick a side eventually. A lot like the one above me, and still no. We aren’t going around having sex with different folks with different genitalia and identities so eventually we can fall on one binary side or the other.
  • Slut shaming. Slut shaming is not acceptable in any circumstance. People should be able to express their sexuality and sex drive freely, and safely, with consenting partners, as much or as little as they’d like. And slut shaming becomes particularly prevalent among the bi and pan communities, with justifications like, “you say that you’re (bi or pan) so that you can sleep with more people.”
  • You identify that way to get attention. For starters, just why. As you can see from the list above, so much of the attention given to bi and pan people is negative, that it seems that would debunk itself. Additionally, our sexuality is not a show for others. It is a personal feeling, just like any other sexuality.

These stigmas cause a lot of problems in the bi and pan population. The bisexual and pansexual populations suffer from higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation than the heterosexual community, as do all in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, but also homosexual communities. So remember not to exclude someone who is bi or pan from your community. Really a rule of thumb for people of every identity actually. It can cause a lot of hurt. Who does that help?

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Emma Matters is a pansexual writer and theater artist living in the Jersey City area. She is passionate about using art to promote social justice and equality, and tell stories that are often ignored.