Matt Eckhart

Pansexual pride symbol
Pansexual pride symbol

The word pansexual comes from the Greek prefix “pan” meaning “all”. The dictionary defines a pansexual (sometimes called omnisexual) as “a person who participates in (or is open to) sexual activities of many kinds.” Pansexuals engage in a sexual orientation that attracts them to all genders. Pansexuals engage in romantic and sexual relationships with men, women, transsexuals, transgenders, and intersex people (SexInfo Online). This is the most distinguishing characteristics for pansexuals; they are not attracted to others based on gender because they reject just two genders especially because they engage in relationships with people who do not classify themselves as men or women. “Pansexuals may be more interested in the feelings generated by their relationships, rather than in the biological sex of their partners or the way in which they express their gender.” (Rice, 2009) In a pansexual’s view, gender roles are restricting.

History and Origin

Pansexualism is a psychological theory that developed from Freud’s theory on psychoanalysis in the early 1900s. It is defined as “the theory that regards all desire and interest as derived from sex instinct.” The Online Etymology Dictionary goes on to describe it as “the view that the sex instinct plays the primary part in all human activity, mental and physical; this was held by his critics to be the view of Freud, therefore a term of reproach leveled at early psychology”. According to Freud, he did not specifically define pansexualism the same way pansexuality has been defined today. According to Freud, pansexualism is “The doctrine that all human behavior stems from sex” (Campbell, 2009). This means that it is the human instinct to have sex and relationships and in some instances the instinct leads one to be attracted to any other human regardless of their gender.

Differences with Other Orientations

Pansexuality is sometimes used interchangeably with bisexuality but the reality is that there are distinct differences between the two sexual orientations. “Pansexuality recognizes that there are more than just two distinct genders and that gender identity and expression are flexible and fluid.” (Rice, 2009) Therefore pansexuals can be attracted to transsexuals and transgendered people who do not associate with a gender. On the other hand, bisexuality is defined as a sexual or romantic attraction to two sexes or two genders. Some people like the label of pansexual because it can solve questions that arise with a bisexual orientation.
“Pansexuality need not presuppose a strict dichotomy in biological sex but embraces emotional, affective, and sexual relationships with natal males and females as well as intersexed and transsexual individuals. From this perspective, puzzles that currentrly arise in sexual orientation attributions disappear, such as whether a woman ‘becomes’ bisexual if her husband, after sex reassignment surgery, is or identifies as a transsexual/transgender woman.” (Soble, 2006)
Some people take the literal definition of pansexuality as attraction to everything but for the most part pansexuals do not include paraphilias, such as bestiality or necrophilia. “They stress that the term pansexuality describes only consensual adult sexual behaviors.” (Rice, 2009)

Pansexual Pride
Pansexual Pride Flag:  The top row is bright pink to identify females.  The bottom row is light blue to identify males.  The middle row of gold is for those who are identified as both genders, transgendered, or neither gender.
Pansexual Pride Flag: The top row is bright pink to identify females. The bottom row is light blue to identify males. The middle row of gold is for those who are identified as both genders, transgendered, or neither gender.

As was said earlier, pansexuals commonly get grouped with bisexuals, and this includes the LGBT rallies that work to promote the equality and understanding of the pansexual community. They have worked in the past with the bisexual community in communicating against false myths that have arisen about bisexuals and pansexuals. The bisexual community has many of their own events and conferences and pansexuals have been associated with those events in the past. However, it looks that more recently individuals within the pansexual community have been working to form their own identity. The Pansexual Pride Flag blog has generated a lot of support online. They came up with a design for a pansexual flag that can be seen to the right. According to the blog, “For a long time we've shared a flag with bisexual pride, but I believe as more people are choosing to identity (though we don't choose what we are) themselves as pansexual rather than bisexual. Both are legitimate orientations, neither is "better" than the other, but they both deserve to be represented individually.”

Troubles and Difficulties

Many bisexuals and pansexuals suffer from discrimination for their sexual orientation. Much of this discrimination is the erasure of bi/pansexuality. Many people claim that there are no true bi/pansexual people and instead they are still in the closet about their homosexuality, “Everyone always says they're bisexual, blabbing on and on about how "sexuality is fluid, and I don't really like labels"--but usually I find these are just gay men who are afraid to come out.” (Musto, 2009) Other people say that these bi/pansexual people are actually heterosexual and are just experimenting. The reason that they draw such discrimination is that they are neither gay nor straight, which leads to people questioning their lifestyle and if they actually are truly bisexual. “Bisexuality is thus threatening to all monosexuals because it makes it impossible to prove a monosexual identity.” (Yoshino, 2000)
Coming out is also a big problem for pansexuals. Many pansexual people find it difficult to fully come out because people are not aware of what pansexuality is. When explained many people just brush it off as a false sexual orientation. It gets judged as a phase and that they will get over it, which in turn makes coming out for a pansexual a very difficult time.


Campbell, R.J. (2006). Psychiatric Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 715. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
Iamiyouareyou, Artist, Pansexual Pride Symbol.
Musto, Michael. April 7, 2009. Ever Meet a Real Bisexual?, The Village Voice
Pansexual Pride Flag Blog. Retrieved 10 April 2011. <>
"Pansexuality". SexInfo Online. University of California, Santa Barbara.
Rice, K. (2009). "Pansexuality". In Marshall Cavendish Corporation. Sex and Society. Marshall Cavendish. p. 593. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
Soble, A. (2006). "Bisexuality". Sex from Plato to Paglia: a philosophical encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 115. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
Yoshino, Kenji (2000). "The Epistemic Contract of Bisexual Erasure".Stanford Law Review (Stanford Law School) (2): 353–461. Retrieved 10 April 2011.