Pan(sexual)’s Labyrinth

by Simone Quinanola

While scrolling down my Facebook feed on a casual Sunday morning, I noticed that it was officially “National Coming Out Day.”  Though it has been around for 27 years, I rolled my eyes at the fact that one’s personal sexual revelation and identity were finally bastardized enough to become a “holiday” where Hallmark cards and festive butt plugs would be much more possible.  When one’s queerness eventually becomes a seasonal event, we can expect Starbucks to jump in on the bandwagon with a Homo Spice Glitter Latte.   

While my thoughts on “National Coming Out Day” were pretty cynical, they were also reflective of my personal identity.  In lieu of National Coming Out Day, I’d like to write about coming to terms with being pansexual.  Please note that my story is different from everyone else’s and should not be used to generalize anyone else’s experience regarding sexuality.  

I remember growing up in a Catholic household, where the rejection of queer identity stemmed from religious guilt and the fear of damnation.  No big deal, I thought, since my only romantic interest was in boys and I only thought of girls as nothing more than friends.  As I got older I began to question my sexuality, but at the same time I kept telling myself that I couldn’t identify as queer since I didn’t “dress, talk, and wanna fuck like a stereotypical lesbian,” even though I couldn’t help but have some attraction to girls while still developing crushes on guys.  When it came to attraction, it wasn’t necessarily sexual, but instead on a more personal/emotional level.  I remained confused until I started watching “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila.”  The show was a love contest reality show similar to “The Flavor of Love with Flava Flav,” except that Tila was a Vietnamese bisexual female, someone I could easily relate to in terms of identity intersect.  Not saying that Tila’s show was the best representation of queerness, but since I was only 12 at the time, it helped me realize that I didn’t give a fuck about my significant other’s gender.  I just wanted someone who would be able to understand and connect to me on a personal level, and there was just absolutely no way I wanted to settle down with a shitty person just because they had a penis.  But, since it was middle school and everyone hyped bisexuality like they did with neon skinny jeans and shutter shades, I just brushed it off as a phase and continued to identify with heterosexuality.  

As I got older, I decided to uncover more about my sexuality while claiming the heterosexual identity.  If I was going to identify as something different, I was going to be sure of it.  Not only did I come to terms with the fact that I was queer, but to be more specific, I realized that I was pansexual.  What distinguishes pansexuality from bisexuality is that your sexual and emotional attractions are not limited by a person’s sexual or gender identity.  Bisexuality is similar, but the attraction felt varies toward different genders.  Since I’ve always felt this way, it only felt natural to identify as such since my attraction to others has always been broad.  This self-revelation led to a realization that the only thing that held me back this entire time was the comfort that accompanied a heterosexual identity.  Not only would I have to face possible backlash from my family, but I also feared how the way other people treated me would change. It gives me so much anxiety whenever I think of how one’s sexual identity can affect so much within our society, despite the fact that I’m still the same person I was before.  I know that there are deeper issues connected to sexuality, and as a person who is still trying to be more comfortable with myself, I can only immerse myself into so much while still scratching the surface.  So while I’m learning, I’ll do my best to be aware as I can be while I sip on a Pumpkin Queer Frappe.

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