It seems as though knowledge and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer identities has slowly increased over time in the country as well as on campus.
However, there also exist some lesser-known orientations.
Dec. 8 is Pansexual and Panromanic Pride Day, according to the Penn State LGBTQA Student Resource Center’s semester calendar, and that is one identity that people may not be familiar with.
“Pansexuality and panromanticism are pretty similar to bisexuality,” Kari Jo Freudigmann, the center’s programming coordinator, said. “The thing with that is, some people can view bisexuality as being more based on the binary — male, female — whereas pansexuality would be ‘any’ or ‘all.’”
Freudigmann said being pansexual or panromantic is basically an idea where gender doesn’t play a role regarding whom a person is attracted to.
“The differentiations between pansexual and panromantic would be the difference between sexual attraction and romantic attraction,” she said — someone who is panromantic could be not sexually attracted to anyone.
Freudigmann said her personal opinion is perhaps people found the prefix “bi-” not trans-inclusive — because it’s so binary-based.
“Well, pan means all,” Dori Puzycki, a student and self-identified pansexual, said. “I’d say it doesn’t really matter what body the person comes in. I don’t really care what gender they are, if they’re transgender. It’s how we vibe together.”
Puzycki (freshmen-department of undergraduate services) said, when she first began questioning her own sexuality, the only things she was familiar with was gay or straight, but those identities did not fit.
After Puzycki discovered pansexuality as an identity, she said it was easier for her to accept herself, and she found the courage to come out when she was in her late teens.
“It was definitely scary, and the fact that I wasn’t fitting into one of the normal terms that people knew scared me a little more,” Puzycki said about pansexuality. “It’s something still new, something that’s still weird.”
Puzycki said she would love to see increased knowledge of her identity.
“I say queer, just because no one knows what pansexuality is,” she said. “It would be nice to be able to say it and [have] them understand.”
Freudigmann also said, unless people want to live in their own bubbles, society could improve from increased knowledge of these identities and an understanding of where they’re coming from.
“It can be really hard for folks who identify with identities that aren’t as well-known, because then they have to do the work of always explaining what their identity is,” Freudigmann said.
Catherine Schaefer is another Penn State student, who has identified as pansexual since her mid-20s. She said the identity broadens the idea of what gender is.
“If you recognize more than a binary gender spectrum, then being pansexual is just saying you could be attracted to anyone of any gender — opposed to just male or female,” she said.
Schaefer (graduate-developmental physiology) said she personally believes that gender and orientation are a lot more fluid than people think, and many people won’t recognize that until they experience it or learn more about it.
“I will say pansexual, but if I’m in a space where I don’t think people understand, I might just reply with a definition: generally attracted to anybody, more the person than necessarily how they identify,” she said.
Cierra Moore said she actually loves explaining her pansexuality, having discovered the identity when she was 18 years old.
“More knowledge would even help people identify themselves,” Moore (senior-biobehavioral health) said.
Schaefer said people learning more about the various LGBTQA identities is a way to open up a dialogue about what sex and gender are, and how they are different things to different people.
Freudigmann would agree.
“It’s important for people to be able to find space,” Freudigmann said. “Putting a term to something, people are able to find community in it.”
Puzycki said when she came out to her parents as pansexual, they thought she was saying she was transsexual or something.
“It would have been nice if people had heard about it, instead of having to explain the same monologue over and over again,” Puzycki said.