Bisexual and Pansexual people are especially affected by this and it can be alienating.
So, my name is Lane Lunsford, and for this blog, I’d like to take a crack at outlining the difference between bisexual and pansexuality clear, but I'd also like to focus on the similar feelings of alienation and loneliness you can share. And why the support group I run here on RESCQU.NET, Bitter/Sweet aims to support people of all sexual identities equally, while still celebrating their subtle differences.
Learn a little more about me and Bitter/Sweet!
Or click to see really cute sloths. That's also a good reason :)
So, what's the difference between Bi and Pan?
Bisexuality is the romantic and/or sexual attraction to both female and male people. It's usually situated smack-dab in the middle of the spectrum, but many people have preferences.
Some people express their attraction as an active awareness for the traits they prefer in either a person's sex or gender, while others express it as a passive lack of preference for either. The one thing in common, is that bi people can at least hazily define who the are attracted to by a gender or sex.
Pansexuality is the romantic and/or sexual attraction to anybody of any sexuality or gender. It is, sometimes, seen as encompassing a wider range of attraction than bisexuality, but this is arguable.
Where bisexuality refers to attraction to both men and women and makes an attempt to delineate preferences, pansexuality is almost a "lack of". It includes genderqueer, agender, and transgender individuals almost by default. Pansexuality rarely acknowledges the gender binary and for some people that means gender doesn't factor in at all when they see that someone walk in to a room.
I should stress...
I am speaking in the most general way possible when defining these terms. If you identify with one of these sexualities, but don’t feel like parts of the definition apply, don’t worry. These labels are merely concepts used to help people better express themselves and find solidarity in common experience.
If the terms limit rather than empower you, to the flames they go.
Stepping away from the differences...
Both Bi and Pan folx are often commanded to “pick a side”; to express a uniform sexual preference. They are also erased in the media, in politics, and sadly, even in some parts of the LGBTQ+ community.
Picking a person to date or live with is paramount to picking that side regardless of what they wanted, and people can often view that behavior as "traitorous", or "growing out of it" depending on the side you're on and who that bi person has agreed to be with.
The tension usually exists because bi and pan individuals can enter into relationships that let them appear completely straight or gay. This helps them go stealth in the hetero-normative and gay communities, but that also means dealing with a constant erasure and stereotyping of their identity.
This is where Bitter/Sweet comes in.
The name Bitter/Sweet refers to this tension between being able to pass as heterosexual while still dealing with the stress and sadness that comes with being bi or pan. I wanted to facilitate a group that could help anyone within the bisexual+ and pansexual community feel a sense of togetherness and that their identities were valid.
The bi+ community faces unique challenges that can sometimes be overlooked in the larger LGBT+ world. Bitter/Sweet aims to welcome all of those individuals that may be afraid to speak up in other support settings because they have been told their worries and concerns were not as important.
We are here to tell you that your experiences are real and shouldn’t be dismissed. This is a safe community where you will be welcomed to discuss your struggles and find friends who support you. We hope you’ll join us!
If you'd like to sign up and join us at Bitter/Sweet please click here to learn more.
Lane Lunsford is the Support group facilitator and a writer for RESCQU.NET. She also likes sloths, warm stuffed animals, tattoos, and lending help to others.