Question: It seems like no one really understands people who identify as “bisexual”. I am “bi” and I also have friends who are “pansexual”. What is the difference and why do you think there is so much division in the broader LGBT community about this? Bi, Happy & Proud.


Dear BHP,

These can be complicated issues and questions that 10 people might answer in 10 different ways. In general, “bisexual” people are romantically and/or sexually attracted to either males or females. Under many circumstances, most of us would actually fall into this category, but life experiences have resulted in us selecting gay or straight identities to define our sexual orientation.

For “pansexual” individuals, the difference is that their romantic and/or sexual attractions to others are regardless of where that person identifies on the gender and sexuality spectrum. Pansexuals can be attracted to cismen, ciswomen, transmen, transwomen, intersex people, androgynous people or others who may define themselves in many different ways. (Cismen or ciswomen are those whose gender self-perception matches their biological birth sex). Pansexuality is considered to be an even more inclusive term than bisexuality.

You are right that there is division even among people in the broader “queer” community. We don’t even all accept THAT term. But of course what really matters is that we each find what is right and true for ourselves. Self imposed labels may be sometimes useful, but finding real joy must start with self acceptance, (no matter HOW we identify), living with integrity, and respecting everyone else no matter where their life path leads. If we could just do that, why would labels even matter?

Think about the motto of the Health Collective. It really says it all:

Be well. Be yourself.