What Is Pansexual and How Do You Know if You’re Pan?

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I will always remember several years ago when actress Anne Heche left her long time relationship with comedienne Ellen DeGeneres and married a man. The world seemingly lost its mind. How was it possible? How could she go from being gay to being straight? No one understood. I am pretty sure I watched several reporters’ minds explode on live television.

When struggling to ask her about it, this seemingly insane switch, one journalist asked her how she could go from being homosexual to being heterosexual. “We thought you were gay.” The reporter said.

Anne Heche smiled and responded calmly, “I never said I was gay. You said I was gay. I said I was in love with Ellen. I was. She happened to be a woman. Now I am in love with my husband, who happens to be a man. Love is love.”

It was, for me, a revolutionary moment. Yes. This made sense to me. You can love anyone, even romantically, without having to identify yourself as one thing or another. Love is love.

What Is Pansexual?

Still, we love our identifiers, don’t we? We need to call everyone something. We need to put them into boxes and label them to make ourselves feel more comfortable. Once we can identify and understand something, we figure, then we can be okay with it. Or we can push it away and hate it, if that is what we decide. And we can feel comfortable in our hate.

Pansexual seems to be a small way to get around this insistence on identifiers. It is a sort of non-identifier identifier. The literal definition of pansexual is to be open to being sexually attracted to anything. Literally, anything. “Pan” in Greek, means “all.” Sure, we could narrow that down to all genders, but why?

Freud first talked about pansexuality in the early 1900s when he posited that humans are born with the ability to be sexually attracted to anything at all. It makes sense when you think about it.

Men in Prison Prove Pansexuality

Whenever I think of pansexuality, I think of men in prison. Quite often, men who have been in prison will tell you that, while they did indeed engage in sexual activity with other men in prison, they do not consider themselves gay. They had sex. They enjoyed sex. They looked forward to more sex. With men. Yet, they do not consider themselves homosexual.

How is this possible?


It allows for you to be sexually attracted to who, and what, ever you happen to be sexually attracted to in this moment.

But, you might argue, they physically and literally cannot have sex with women because they are stuck in a prison with other men, so they have to have a sexual outlet. They are forced into this sexual situation, you argue.

Are they, though?

Plenty of men do not have sex with other men in prison. Plenty are forced into sexual situations with other men and do not enjoy it.


Indeed, not all men engage in sex. Some take vows of celibacy for life. Priests, monks, and men from other religious and spiritual belief systems feel uninterested in a life that engages in sex or attraction at all. They see it as a form of the highest enlightenment or removal from earthy experiences.

Celibacy then, also proves pansexuality. If we can agree that some people are uninterested in sex and are simply not moved enough to be attracted to anyone or anything, we can also agree that a person can be attracted to anyone or anything.

Pansexuality Does Not Equal Hypersexuality

Of course, once we decide a person can be attracted to anyone or anything, we have to contend with argument some will make that it must mean pansexuals are always aroused, are hypersexual, and are promiscuous.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Just because a man is attracted to a woman does not mean he is always attracted to all women. It does not mean he will become an adulterer. It does not mean he cannot control his sexual urges. It just means that when he is looking for a mate, he prefers to choose from among the female sex.

Likewise with pansexuals. When pansexuals are seeking a mate, they choose from among all people, regardless of gender identity. A true pansexual leaves themselves open, with an open heart and an open mind, to explore whichever consensual sexual engagement may arise, falling in love with a person for their heart and their mind, their spirit and their soul, long before falling in love with their body.

Pansexuality Does Not Equal Bisexuality

I remember right after the Anne Heche “scandal,” more celebrities started coming out as bisexual. It became a fad, the thing to be. We started equating Anne Heche’s experience with bisexuality. And everyone who’s anyone anymore is bisexual.

The difference, I have found, between bisexual and pansexual is that bisexuals tend to switch back and forth between men and women. Bisexual people typically do engage in at least on sexual encounter with the same sex and at least one with the opposite sex. The act of engaging in sexual activity with both sexes seems to lead to the identifier “bisexual.”

In contrast, a pansexual can go their whole lives without ever engaging in sex with the same sex. A woman, me, for example, can go her whole life only having dated men, had sex with men, and be happily married to a man her whole life. But, she can see herself with a woman in an alternate scenario. She can find herself attracted to a woman, passing on the street, or, say, Scarlett Johansson in Black Widow. She does not ever have to engage in sex to be pansexual.

Pansexual merely means you allow for the fact that you are attracted to anyone and anything.

Are You Pansexual?

Maybe. That is the short answer. Maybe you are pansexual. If you can find yourself attracted to a person regardless of gender identity or biological sex, you might be pansexual. You do not ever have to act on it. You don’t ever have to tell anyone about it. You can just sit with your openness and feel your way through it. It is simple, it is easy, it is not complex at all.

Seems crazy, right?

Something that seems like it should be super complex, sexuality and romance, can actually be really simple. You can say, “I don’t know. Maybe.”

You might, for example, think you’d never be attracted to the same sex, and then someone comes along, and you’re aroused, surprising yourself.

Be okay with it. Again. You do not have to do anything about it.

And, also, you can if you want to, and you have consent.

The joy of pansexuality is, again, the non-identifier quality of it as an identifier.

You can be whoever, and whatever, you want to be. And you can be all things.

A Note on Labels

With the rise of Law of Attraction into our societal consciousness, with more people identifying as witches or spiritual gurus, more people talking about manifestation and the power of the mind, it is truly a wonderful thing that these changes, this progress, is leading us away from labels.

Look around and you’ll notice that what was once considered a Liberal view is now often Conservative or Libertarian. What was once Conservative is now something else. With the rise of wokeness and cancel culture, we also have a rise of people simply stepping away from it all.

This is the law of attraction way.

We do not give attention to what we do not want because we know that whatever we focus on, positive or negative, we bring into our experience.

Now more than ever we can step away from the need to label others.

It is fine to label ourselves when we find names and identities that fit us. I identify as a witch, though not a witch like most others who identify as witches. And that is the nature of where we are today.

Call yourself what you like, and let others do the same. And don’t be afraid to ask what those identifiers mean to them.

I define pansexual here in this piece, but someone, or many someones, might disagree with me. They might say pansexual and bisexual are the same thing. They might accuse me of this or that other thing.

I might get cancelled!

Use Your Voice

At least, the only human experience I am interested in.

But, of course, that is the nature of the human experience. We must not be afraid to use our voices. We must not be afraid to identify as we will. And we must not be afraid to change and evolve, adapt and shift and flow with the universe. That, too, is the nature of the human experience.

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