Queer Abby: Am I Bi Or Pansexual?

Queer Abby: Am I Bi Or Pansexual?

Dear Queer Abby, 

I’m just starting to come to terms with my sexuality. At first, I thought I was bi; now I’m starting to think I’m pansexual, but I don’t know how to tell. Am I really open to everyone? 

Plus I wish my family knew. I just don’t know how they’ll take it. People say they’ll love you no matter what until that “what” happens. Then they change. I want to come out and taste rainbows in peace, but those surrounding me won’t let me. 

I’d appreciate a little wisdom.

With queer love, 

Jumbled in Judsonia

Dear Jumbled, 

Congratulations on your exciting sexual orientation!

First thing’s first: Are you pan?

I am a dog person. As such, I am going to give you a dog metaphor that I like to bark out when people are questioning their sexuality or considering a breakup. 

A lot of times, when you have a dog who has aged or become sick, one starts to consider euthanasia. But it’s a hard, scary question whether it is the right time to say goodbye to your best friend or not. 

What I tell my friends is this: You do not call the veterinarian with questions about euthanasia on a healthy puppy. If the thought has even crossed your mind, it probably means you are close to the actual time, and there is your answer. 

I don’t mean to equate your sexuality with dog death (heaven forbid), but this is my standard advice also for breakups: You don’t think about whether or not to break up when you are in a healthy, happy relationship. The same will apply here. 

Most happily straight-as-an-arrow people do not write into an advice column wondering if they are pansexual. 

If you think you’re pansexual, you’re probably pansexual. If you get crushes on all sorts of people, across the wide wide world of gender/non-gender, then it is very likely. Straight people historically do not have to “test it” or have sex the first time to decide they are straight, so let’s give your own intrinsic knowing the same respect. 

If it makes you feel better to embrace the all-encompassing term “queer” as you explore this new terrain, that also seems like an appropriate term. 

And of course, just because you are open to every type of person doesn’t mean you are open to every single person within that type. If you have a rotten or unsatisfying experience with one type of person on the gender spectrum, perhaps the experience was specific to them and how often they brush their teeth, not indicative of how you’ll react/respond to everyone in that gender type. 

On to the idea of coming out. 

Do you have to come out to your family? If you’re in a safe space, and if coming out would help you feel more honest in your life, certainly. 

I would not present the questioning part, because I wouldn’t want to give them any hope that one day you will solve the question by leaping into heteronormativity, but that’s based on my experience coming out to a Catholic Kansas mother. Perhaps you have a supportive family who would support you on your explorations. 

I would recommend keeping it as simple as possible (because already it’s possible you are blowing their minds), so if you need to say you are pan until further notice, or queer, that seems to serve the purpose of honesty in this situation. 

Just know that, no matter what their initial reaction, the fullest part of you is still lovable. 

Even if you’re not meeting your parents’ expectations, or it takes them a second to come around.

Ultimately, they will or they won’t, and it’s nothing personal. It has no correlation to your worth or value as a human being.

Before coming out, please be sure you have a support system around you. 

Your family can act however they’re gonna act, but you deserve to be supported and feel like you have a community and some light-hearted fun.  

You deserve to take up space as a pansexual person on the planet and there are a lot of people who are available to value you for your true, whole self. 

Got a question for Queer Abby? Write to [email protected]. All questioners will remain anonymous! 


Nicole J. Georges

Nicole J. Georges is a writer, illustrator, podcaster, and professor from Portland, OR.