just don’t call me “straight”


I might be bisexual, pansexual, heterosexual, or something else, depending on the definitions you use.

I have found people attractive who present as feminine, masculine, and both.

I’ve always used the label bisexual as shorthand for this,
but I was uncertain about that for a long time.
I still am, a bit, but it works well enough.

It’s not really important that anyone be informed of this. I may as well be aro/ace as far as you and I are concerned.

But it did take a great deal of time and thought to arrive where I have. Thus it’s worthwhile to write down. I share it here in the hope that it helps someone else in their own self-analysis.

bi? pan?

I’m a little worried that the word bisexual, in its very construction, might reinforce a false gender binary. Wikipedia says that some critics claim so too. If so, then I’m certainly not bi. Happily, it seems that most people who identify as bi reject the gender binary. Still, I don’t want to make someone feel bad with the language I use.

Pansexual might be a less problematic label. But its Wikipedia article says that they “assert that gender is not a factor in their attraction.” If pansexuals feel no distinction between male and female then I must not be that: I respond differently to different expressions of gender.


I would not be bowled over with surprise if science found that that strict attraction toward one gender (and repulsion from anything else) arises from a learned cultural homophobia and toxic masculinity.

In a society free of heternormativity, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, toxic masculinity, etc., I would expect most people to identify in themselves, as I have, an impulse toward certain gender expressions, but also a capacity for attraction toward any gender expression, in varying amounts and circumstances.

I’m a cis dude who feels an initial impulse toward most female-presenting people that I don’t for most male-presenting people. Could that mean I’m actually technically heterosexual after all? Maybe, if that label were strictly about biology or brain chemistry (it isn’t).

Or could it mean that my attraction toward the masculine or non-binary is performative, fake, a phase, etc.? Well, it certainly doesn’t feel so in my experience.

In common heteronormative narratives, someone whom you initially thought was attractive can become repulsive, or you can “fall for someone” that you were initially disinterested in.

Likewise, impulses seem like a very small part of what makes up attraction, sexuality, or love, even when it comes to gender.

something else

If none of those labels fit, is it important to find a label that precisely matches my experience? I think not, especially if it’s an obscure one. Better to just describe characteristics and let other people assign the label (if any) that makes sense to them.

On the other hand, it’s hard to fly a pride flag when you have doubts about its accuracy.

“Bisexual” has served me well enough to repel (or draw out) haters without being too obscure for average people to figure out. Maybe if I were 22 again today I’d be more conscious of nonbinary visibility and come out as pansexual instead, for similar reasons, with similar but smaller reservations.