Are you thinking about telling people in your life that you are pansexual?
Coming out as pansexual, like any other coming out, such as gay, bi or trans, can bring up a whole load of emotions. It can be hard, scary, fun and a massive relief. There are the usual things to consider such as:
- Is it safe to come out?
- Who will you tell first?
- Do you have support if things don’t go to plan?
- Can you come out to one or two people first to get an ally?
- How will you tell them – text? email? in person? social media?
- When will you tell them?
However, with pansexuality there is a load of other things to consider too.
Will people understand what pansexuality is?
Sadly, pansexuality is one of the sexual identities least understood in the mainstream. So, unlike coming out as gay, where most people will understand straight away what that means, coming out as pan is likely to feel quite different.
Unless you’re coming out to friends in the queer community you’re more likely to come up against a blank face as the person you tell doesn’t get it.
To help you get prepared it might be worth thinking about how you would describe what pansexuality means to you. Check out my other Ditch the Label article “What is Pansexuality?”. You might want to share the link to save you having to explain.
Will they take me seriously?
Because so many people either don’t understand what pansexuality is, or maybe haven’t even heard of it, be prepared for the possibility of it not being taken seriously. This can really suck, but I want you to be ready for this.
As a counsellor I’ve had many pansexual clients tell me that when coming out they often face people making comments like, “you are just trying to be trendy” and “this is just a phase”. Of course, we know this is not true.
Pansexuality is real and valid. Many celebrities have come out as pansexual, including Janelle Monáe, Joe Lycett and Jazz Jennings.
Try to connect yourself with other pansexual people to help you feel less isolated. There are lots of groups and communities online.
Will people mistakenly perceive me as bisexual?
It is quite common for pansexual folks to get mistakenly labelled as bi. You might see yourself as bi and pan since pan comes under the bi umbrella, and not care.
However, many pan people see pansexuality as different from bisexuality, and folk not using the pansexual label for them can feel like an erasing of their true identity.
It can get very exhausting having your identity constantly erased. If this happens, you might wonder whether to correct people who you’ve already come out to as pan. Remember, this is your life and it’s your choice whether you want to, or if you feel up to saying anything. You don’t have to use all your energy to keep correcting people.
Try to hang out more with people who do get it and who accept you for who you are.
Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.
Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.
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