I don’t understand the difference between bi and pan, and that’s MY problem.

What I understand doesn’t really matter, as long as I respect peoples’ orientation.

This link describes the similarities and differences when it comes to bisexuality and pansexuality.  I still don’t grasp the complexities of the differences.

And you know what?  My understanding doesn’t fucking matter as long as I respect peoples’ orientation.  I don’t think I have to understand to accept.  How people describe their sexual orientation isn’t for me to judge.  When I first read that bisexuality wasn’t just an attraction to men and women, I was confused.  “If it isn’t an attraction to two genders, why is it calledbisexuality?”  I’ve read about the differences, but I don’t understand them.  I’ll say it again: my understanding doesn’t matter.

A person tells me s/he is bisexual: that’s fine and dandy with me.  A person tells me s/he is pansexual: that’s fine and dandy with me.

As a straight ally, it isn’t up to me to decide what the definitions of different orientations should be.  It doesn’t affect me.  Even if I don’t understand the nuances, it is my responsibility to respect what people tell me about their orientation.  That is what being an ally is.  It is also my responsibility to try and figure out the differences in a way I can comprehend, so that I can explain it to people who don’t understand.  Not everyone is comfortable with respecting orientations that they don’t understand.  I consider it my duty as an ally to be able to explain it to them.

So, while I’ve never read an explanation of the differences between bisexuality and pansexuality that makes the differences clear to me, I will continue to go out of my way to learn about them, so that I can better educate others about them. This doesn’t make me special or deserving of a cookie.  This is the minimum that an ally should do.

This post from http://emilysgilmores.tumblr.com explains it better than I’m explaining it.

  • me: i’m bisexual. i like multiple genders, including the same gender.
  • non bisexual people: you’re not bisexual; you’re pansexual.
  • me:considering i identify as bisexual, i am in fact bisexual.
  • non bisexual people: actually you’re not bisexual, bisexual means being attracted to two genders.
  • me: how would you know? are you bisexual? ’cause i am. and i’m attracted to multiple genders.
  • non bisexual people: the term bisexuality–
  • me: is something we took back for ourselves and is going to mean whatever the fuck we want it to mean. because we are bisexual.
  • non bisexual people: but buT BUT–
  • me: but it’s hard for you to accept you can’t control how other people identify so you do your best to be as infuriating as fucking possible. yeah believe me, i know.

2 thoughts on “I don’t understand the difference between bi and pan, and that’s MY problem.

  1. No one should police other people’s identities or the meaning of it to them. The thing with bi and pan is that you can have two people who feel the same way but one ids as bi and the other as pan. But that’s the thing- it’s all just about how a person identifies and there is no right or wrong in that.
    And there are a lot of different ways people identify within the queer community. Some reject bisexual and prefer bi-attractional. There is same gender loving. A lot of others I’m forgetting. Recently met someone who said he was wavy- a play on not straight. Which I think is cool. The thing is just about recognizing that how a person identifies is personal and there is no right or wrong.
    I have a negative reaction to bi-attractional but only because my first introduction to it was a professor (who I think was straight) telling us not to ever use bisexual. I identified as bisexual at that time and also wasn’t comfortable being out in class, but I wanted to say “I’m bisexual and yes, it is bisexual!” But if someone else prefers bi-attractional, that’s fine. Just important to remember that there is no universal one way people feel about these terms.

    Liked by 1 person

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