Pansexuality has its own treasure trove of difficulties. People often (wrongly) view pansexuals as confused, greedy, or going through a phase. People think they will one day emerge identifying as gay or lesbian.
These rumors are untrue and harmful, but they persist nonetheless. I wrote a whole article about the intricacies of Pansexuality and Bisexuality here. But being pan and identifying as a man? Whoa, brother. That’s another set of difficulties. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s begin!
Identifying as Bi/Pan is common!
Okay, I know that society might tell you that being pansexual is weird and uncommon but it truly is not! The numbers prove it. Although film and TV might make you think differently, pansexuals/bisexuals/people-who-are-attracted-to-more-than-one-gender actually make up the largest faction of the LGBTQ community!
According to GLAAD 52% of queer people identify as Bisexual (a moniker under which they include pansexuals). Now, I’m not a numbers girl, but I think we can all agree…that’s MOST people! If you’re feeling alone, know that most of the queer people at the pride march are actually in the same boat as you, even if they’re not waving the Bi flag.
Identifying as a Bi/Pan Man…is not common!
Please know that you’re not making up the prejudice you feel as a pansexual Man. Many queer people privately acknowledge that their sexuality exists on a spectrum. However, bisexual and pansexual people are much less likely to be out to the people in their lives. This is because we still accept bi-phobia as not just a fixture of heterosexual society, but of the queer community. And men, well, in this aspect you have it much worse.
In a 2013 study by the Pew foundation, it was discovered that only 12% of bisexual men are out of the closet. Similarly, research from England’s Stonewall foundation found that 49% of bi men aren’t out to their coworkers, while only 7%of gay men and 4% of lesbians are still in the closet at work. These statistics point out a killer within the LGBTQ community: pan and bi men are not comfortable being themselves.
So, why is it so dangerous for pan men to come out?
Societal expectations of Masculinity are a KILLER!
Wether you are a cis man or a trans man, society has certain expectations of masculinity that are directly threatened by pansexuality. This doesn’t mean that identifying as pan as a woman or nonbinary person is a cake walk, in fact it’s compounded by sexism. But the same sexism that tells Pan women that it’s okay to be Pan if they’re still catering to straight men, is the exact same type of sexism that degrades Pan men. Within patriarchal society, men are supposed to be “strong”, “decisive” and constantly upholding their manhood. Pansexuality directly challenges all of these values: fluidity, choice, and acknowledging the changing nature of human sexuality all threaten traditional masculinity.
This is all to say: if you’re a man who’s not 100% heterosexual, our society at large (and, unfortunately, the queer community) has a tendency to automatically view you as gay. This is not only wrong but threatens the mental health of pan men. You’re viewed as not gay enough by gay men and not straight enough by straight women. But you’re perfect just the way you are, and anyone who makes you feel like you need to “choose” isn’t a person worth dating.
Dismantle the Patriarchy! Celebrate yourself!
As a Pan Man, you are not alone. You deserve to be celebrated and acknowledged by the queer community, and unfortunately, that starts with you! The best thing you can do to raise awareness and acceptance for Pansexual men is to be honest with your friends, family and hookups about your sexual orientation. Within reason of course. Always make sure you are physically and emotionally safe when coming out to someone, and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t muster the emotional energy to do so. It shouldn’t be up to you, but your honestly helps. Truly the best way for Pan men to feel comfortable and experience being de-stigmatized is it more men come out as Pan. So please, let your flag fly high and know that there are people out here that support you. Yours truly included.
Support the pansexual community!
If you are not a Pansexual man, please support the pansexual community by acknowledging pansexuality in LGBTQ events, questionnaires, your workplace LGBTQ trainings. Gays and lesbians are not the only queer people who deserve basic humanity and respect.
When someone comes out to you as dating someone of the same sex, don’t just assume they’re coming out to you as gay. Ask respectful questions, give room for their answers and support all the queer people in your life. Bi/Pan/Gay/Lesbian/Asexual and everywhere in between.
Remember that acceptance for pansexual people leads to further acceptance for gays and lesbian. Acceptance for pansexual people leads to acceptance of trans people, non binary people and asexual people. Acceptance of pansexual people leads to a better, queerer world in general. Know that you are not alone and you are beautiful just the way you are.