February 16, 2021
About six months ago I started defining myself as pansexual.
Pansexual is a term describing a sexual orientation, and it means that I can be attracted sexually to people of all genders. I am also panromantic, which describes romantic orientation and means that I am interested in getting involved romantically with people of all genders.
The first time I remember expressing my pansexuality was in 2015 during a long walk in scorching Australia, when I told a friend that although I only had experiences with men, I felt that falling in love with a person wasn’t a matter of gender for me: it was about the person.
I never really thought much of this and even forgot about it, also because I thought that only having experiences with men, meant defining myself as queer was off the table.
What I didn’t know at the time, is that that was the beginning of my toxic relationship with impostor syndrome.
Although what I had expressed was basically the anthem of pansexuality, I didn’t define myself as such because I thought that thinking that I can be attracted to people regardless of their gender only made me open minded, and, since all my actual experiences were heterosexual, that’s what I had to be. Even after I had experiences with a girl, I still considered it an “exception to the rule”, and not enough for me to question my sexuality (hello internalised panphobia!).
Only after years, when I started studying queer theory, did I start analysing my sexuality and defining myself as pansexual, but still, I didn’t feel like sharing it with the public. I was now convinced that this was my identity, but I was afraid to talk about it openly because of the fear of rejection by other LGBTQIA+ people. I was and I am in an heterosexual long-term relationship, and this comes with privileges, within an heteronormative society such as ours. I was afraid that people from the community would tell me I was just defining myself as pan because it was “cool”, without having to face the struggles that often comes with being part of the community.
Impostor syndrome is extremely common amongst pan- and bisexual people in heterosexual relationships, that end up feeling like they aren’t bi or pan "enough”. This feeling is born from the idea that our sexuality isn’t our own to define, but is instead defined by someone else, namely our current or previous partner(s). In my case, this idea lead me to not define myself as pansexual because I was telling myself that:
Obviously, this is not the case, and it is just as stupid as saying that everybody is asexual until they have sexual relationships with someone, because our being sexual can only be granted by a partner, instead of it being part of our identity.
Moral of the story, although my apparent adherence to heterosexuality has been providing me with extreme privilege my entire life (which I do not take for granted), it has also been damaging my relationship with my own sexual identity. I still feel guilty calling myself pan or queer, as if that meant watering down the LGBTQIA+ community, or as if by doing so I was taking up someone else’s space, someone who is more worthy of the rainbow flag and that has struggled because of it.
So if you are out there figuring out your identity and ever feel the impostor syndrome ruining your party, remember that you are not alone! Send me a dm, comment below, do whatever you need to feel a little better and not let this syndrome demon ruin your rainbow fun!
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