‘I’m pansexual. Here’s what that means’
When musician, actress and in my humble opinion, one of the greatest fashionistas in the world, Janelle Monáe, announced she identified as pansexual, you could practically hear the hordes hurrying to Google: "What is pansexual?"
Same goes for Bella Thorne.
This isn't especially surprising - even people who are pansexual don't always know the correct term for their sexuality.
Celina Rogers, 30, says she had long identified with being bisexual but always felt that the term wasn't quite the right one for her.
"I also hated the way the straight men made assumptions about me; that it's hot or I'm down for a threesome with them and another woman," she tells whimn.com.au.
"And then someone told me about 'pansexual' and I thought yep, that's perfect."
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SO WHAT IS PANSEXUALITY?
Pansexuality is part of the sexual identity spectrum, with heterosexuality at one end and homosexuality at the other end. Within this spectrum are various sexual identities such as asexual, bisexual, demisexual, queer.
For pansexuals, Celina says, someone's gender orientation, sexuality or identity has no impact on whether she may be attracted to them.
BUT ISN'T THAT BISEXUALITY?
No, but there is some overlap. Bisexual people are generally sexually attracted to two or more genders, whereas pansexual people don't typically consider gender or sexual orientation at all - it is the person that they are attracted to, regardless of labels and identities.
Some people also use the term 'pansexual' to be explicitly inclusive of trans people, but that is not to suggest that bisexual people exclude trans people.
And some people, they identify as either bisexual or pansexual, and use the term interchangeably.
COMING OUT PAN
Monáe's sexuality has long been a topic of debate, and her latest album, Dirty Computer, has several queer anthems, including 'Make Me Feel' and 'PYNK'.
"I read about pansexuality and was like, 'Oh, these are things that I identify with too.' I'm open to learning more about who I am.
"Being a queer black woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women - I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker."
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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary reported that just hours after Monáe publicly "came out", the word "pansexual" became the most searched-for word that day.
Other US celebrities have previously discussed their being pansexual, including Miley Cyrus, reality TV star Jazz Jennings and rapper Angel Haze.
WHY WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT SEXUALITY
For Celina, Monáe's decision to publicly discuss her pansexuality is helpful to other members of the community
"It's a good thing and it could be really helpful, especially to younger people who are still questioning their sexuality or feeling like none of the other labels fit," she says.
"Whatever I'm attracted to, it's for another reason."
- Alana Schetzer is a freelance writer and contributor
- This story originally appeared on whimn.com.au and is reproduced with permission