May 24, 2022
Pan Visibility Day is on May 24th and is a day to recognize and celebrate those who identify as pansexual or panromantic and educates others on the community. Like its LGBTQIA+ counterparts, Pan Visibility Day is an opportunity to bring to light the stories and experiences of pansexual people in society and look at how we can work to improve inclusivity for pan identified people. Victra Pride Alliance [VPA] is proud to celebrate and bring visibility and understanding to the pan community.
What does it mean to be Pan?
One common misconception that even members of the LGBTQ+ community have is that pansexuality and bisexuality are the same. Bisexuality can loosely be defined as attraction to more than one gender, but many define it with the more narrow definition of attraction to both genders, i.e,: men and women.
Pansexuality differs in that it includes sexual attraction inclusive of ALL gender identities, which means that people can also be drawn to those who are gender fluid or genderqueer. It is similar for people who are panromantic. When a person identifies as panromantic, it means that they can feel romantically towards anyone of any gender identity.
When people come out as pansexual or panromantic, headlines often emphasize that it’s different than being bi+, and while that’s true, somebody who is bi+ may also identify as pan and vice versa. The bisexuality umbrella term includes those who feel attracted to two or more gender identities. Pansexuality refers to people who feel sexual attraction to any gender identity, but because their preference includes two or more genders, they could also consider themself b+i. Being pan doesn’t mean that a person is going to be attracted towards everyone, but simply that gender identity doesn’t play a role in that attraction.
Most simply put, being pan is a natural attraction to people regardless of gender. Some pan activists use the phrase “Hearts, not parts” to explain this orientation. This phrase can be a useful tool when talking with people who aren’t familiar with LGBTQIA+ terminology.
The word pansexuality originally comes from Greek. Pan means ‘all’, and relates to the word panorama. It is important to note that pansexual people are not attracted to all other people, but they are attracted to people of all genders. This is different from being attracted to everyone; in the same way that a heterosexual woman will not be attracted to all men and a lesbian woman will not be attracted to all women, pansexual people will experience attraction to specific people.
Being pan is just one part of who someone is. A pan person may also be trans, have a disability, person of color, religious or all four. Pan people are across all age groups, each have different interests, needs and aspirations. On Pan Visibility Day it is important to remember that we’re celebrating people from all backgrounds and all walks of life.
The pan identity reaffirms the existence of genders beyond the binary “man” and “woman.” It opens the door to conversations about non-binary and agender identities. Please check out our past blog posts for International Non-Binary People’s Day and Agender Pride Day to learn more about these identities.
You may be surprised how many people are pansexual! There are many people who identify as pansexual or panromantic, such as Jazz Jennings, the famous LGBTQIA+ rights advocate who came out as trans as a child. Authors Dana Mele and Caitlin Ricci identify as panromantic. Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monáe, Brendan Urie from Panic! at the Disco, and Green Day Singer Billy Joe Armstrong are among a few others.
Be a Pan Ally
Being an ally is about doing, not about saying “I support [insert marginalized group]!” and leaving it at that. Regardless of if you identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, you can support these groups through allyship. Show up for any group that is suffering under systemic injustice by speaking up when people say things they shouldn’t, listen to perspectives other than your own, educate yourself on issues that you’re not well-versed in and share what you learn with those around you.
Leading by example can be hard. Sometimes people are resistant to learning, particularly when it challenges their perception of reality or self-identity, as discussions of marginalization and privilege often do, but that’s what allies do. Being an ally isn’t pretty. It isn’t always glitter and rainbows, but it is always worthwhile.
- Let others identify their orientation
- Believe Pansexual and Panromantic identities are real
- Be respectful when you ask questions
- Respect the answer you receive when asking questions
- Remember that no one person represents the entire community and stereotypes aren’t always accurate
- Stay open-minded, educated and informed
- Assume that this is “just a phase”
- Conclude that a person’s partner determines their sexuality
- Demand that someone answer every question you have