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Pansexuality: Debunking the Myths

by Mere Community

Today's blog post comes from forum member ForgottenSoul2015, who recently created a special space in the forums to answer questions on pansexuality. We were so inspired by her approach and the positive response, we asked her to share her mythbusing message with the wider ReachOut community. Read on and feel free to add your thoughts to the forum thread.  

There are three main questions I get from people when I tell them I am pansexual. Most of them are rooted in myths and misunderstandings about what pansexuality is and what pansexuals are like. To help clear up the confusion, and help some of you avoid awkward future conversations, I am going to attempt to debunk some of the misconceptions and answer some common questions. 

I suppose a good place to start is by simply defining pansexuality.  Pansexuality is sexual attraction, sexual desire, romantic love, or emotional attraction toward people of any sex or gender identity (https://thecenter.wsu.edu/resources/pansexuality/).  Unfortunately, some people do not quite grasp or accept this ideology.  I have heard so many ridiculous notions and questions and I think that it is time for someone to set the record straight.

I am going to talk about each of the questions I commonly get and explain what each gets wrong about pansexuality.  The first two are quite ridiculous but the last one is a legitimate question that I get constantly. I want to make sure these questions have to be asked less frequently and I want people to take pansexuality more seriously.

1. “So, you have sex with pans?” Yes, this is the first question most people ask me.  My response to this is typically, “Oh, yes! My favorite is Sunbeam.”  As you can see, this is completely ridiculous. We certainly do not have sex with pans.  This is a playful question and it’s easy to brush off.  However, it can still be a painful reminder that not everyone sees my sexuality as legitimate. Just because they haven’t heard the term before, some people resort to dismissive humor.

2. “So, you have sex with animals?” This second question generally happens after I explain my sexuality to someone, “Well, it’s possible for me to be attracted to pretty much anyone.” Of course, I automatically announce how ridiculous it is and how ignorant they are and expand my definition to include, “I’m attracted to humans.”  However, the damage is already done and I have to suppress my anger. It’s so offensive and hurtful to hear people assume that we are sexual deviants. Once again, this seems to come from a lack of understanding and/or a willingness to understand us as fellow human beings just seeking out fulfilling relationships in the world. Please, I beg you, NEVER ask a pansexual this. Although we may not show it, every time we’re asked a question like this, it chips away a little piece of our hearts.  

3. “So, you’re bisexual?” This is the third and most understandable question people ask me. That’s why I want to stress that pansexuality is NOT the same thing as bisexuality.  The prefix “bi” is defined as two.  The prefix “pan” means all.  Bisexuals, by definition, have an attraction to male and females only.  Pansexuals, by definition, have an attraction to all genders including transgender, cis female (or biologically and mentally female), cis male (or biologically and mentally male), gender fluid (where some days you are feminine and other days you masculine), etc.  So, as you can see, pansexuality is very different. 

If someone comes out to you as pansexual, just remember to be respectful.  If you have genuine questions, it’s okay to ask them.  Some questions that would be okay to ask are:

1. "Can you tell me more about your sexuality?"  We know that not everyone has heard of our sexuality and we are generally happy to explain it.  If you still don’t understand, there are plenty of resources online that can help explain even more. One good starting point is BiNet USA, an umbrella organization for bisexual, pansexual, fluid and other people who feel “somewhere in between.” 

2. " How is pansexuality different from bisexuality?" We get that it’s sometimes hard to grasp our sexuality.  The reason why this way of asking is so much better is because you aren’t assuming anything.  This question sounds inquisitive where the previous way sounds harsh and full of negative assumptions.

3. "How do you describe your sexuality? Do you have a type?"  These questions are good to ask once you’re more comfortable with someone, especially if you are romantically interested in the person. While pansexuals have the capability to be attracted to anyone, that doesn’t mean we don’t have preferences that are specific to us.  Just make sure to be respectful with the answer and don’t compare their response to other sexualities.  For example, if a male responds, “I prefer males, but I’m also attracted to other genders,” don’t respond with, “So… you’re gay?”  Just because we have a preference towards a certain gender doesn’t mean our sexuality changes!

While pansexuality is not accepted by everyone, there are so many people out there that do accept it.  If you think you may be pansexual, there are many support groups on Facebook that are full of people willing to help you through the transition.  All you have to do is put “Pansexuality” in the search bar and it will open a whole new world of supporting, loving people. One of my favorites is the group Pansexual Pride. If you join the ReachOut Forums and post your questions or concerns there, there are also members and staff members who are happy to answer any more questions that you may have.  There are people who want to help you but you have to reach out to them and tell them what is happening.

Community Corner: Building a Practice of Gratitude

by Liz_ReachOut Community, Family, Friends, Health

Friends laughingPracticing Gratitude

Positive Pyschology speaks to the importance of gratitude and how crucial it is to happiness. It's something our ReachOutHere forum community practices in this thread and we thought we'd share some of the amazing things they are grateful for:

I am thankful for the person who invented ice cream and cake. I am thankful for uplifting music. I am thankful for my older sister. I am thankful for an amazing God that is a really good listener and a great advice giver. And I am thankful for my friends Erin who is AMAZING!! I wouldnt be the same without her. - Zibzib

I'm thankful that I have a sweet kitty curled up beside me right now, purring and ready for pets! - Lyn Mod

i am thankful for my amazing girlfriend, she is so amazing. i finally found something positive to love. she makes me feel happy. i am also thankful that after 6 months of treatment, im finally out, and not doing that bad. - LJS

I am thankful for family, friends, and all the support receive on this website and elsewhere. - unknownwriter101

I'm thankful of class ending early so that I get to view the wonderful sky (: - AmiableRose

I am thankful for friends, family, access to education, modern day plumbing, scientific inventions, gas efficient cars, night lights, the internet, stuffed animals, WATER (even though I hate drinking it), kindness of strangers, and frozen yogurt. - potatoproblems

Try it out. Every night before you go to bed, think of 3 things you are grateful for from that day and write them down. It's something I've done for years, and even on the crappy days, you can find a surprising amount to be grateful for.

Tell the ReachOut community what you're grateful for here, or register here to get started on your journey in the forums!

 

 

This program is funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63).  It is one of several Prevention and Early Intervention Initiatives implemented by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of California counties working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities.  CalMHSA encourages the use of materials contained herein, as they are explained in our licensing agreements. To view the agreements, please visit: calmhsa.org

Community Corner: A dose of positivity

by Liz_ReachOut Community, Health, Mental Health, Moods

The Power of Positvity

I am continually amazed by the power of positivity and how our community members manage to hold onto it in the face of adversity. Here are 3 recent quotes from ReachOutHere forum members who have been through tough times, from drug addiction to depression, and chosen to share their experiences and help others through.

Take 2 minutes to join the ReachOutHere forums today and either get the support support you deserve, or make the tough times count by giving support to others who need it.

"Hey everyone!  I'm still fairly new to reachout and as I read different topics in the forums it really does sadden my heart to see how much a lot of people are really hurting inside, it also gets me angry to see in some people's stories they describe how people tease, bully or make them feel like a "freak" because they are going through whatever they're going through. Just remember no matter what your going through no matter what anyone tells u or says YOU are a fantastic individual no matter if you are gay, straight, bi, male or female, young or old, or race. Nothing is impossible if you dream it you can do it! Never let anyone tell you that you cant! Also never let anyone belittle any of your problems anything that affects you mentally, emotionally or physically needs to be addressed immediately no matter how big or small a problem may be. Nothing is worth jeopardizing you're happiness! Try and stay focused everyone I know it can be hard but I know you guys can do it! You'll have your good and bad days like we all do. What separates us from others is the ones that gave up and the ones that fell but got right back up =) keep showing the world you're smile! I guarantee you eventually you'll give the world no choice but to smile back" (RicanSurvivor) 

"New to the scene and full of optomism. Hey ladies and gents my name is Joshua. I just joined this site for multiple reasons: 1) Sometimes I feel like no one understands me and I am sure there are others who feel the same way; I am here to open up and listen to anyone who needs it and I hope that can be reciprocated, 2) Sometimes it is a good thing to just vent your feelings without worry of offending someone or being judged by others, and 3) I finally want to be able to let my guard down with other people who may come into my life so that I can once again be the person that I know I am To everyone on this site, if you ever have a problem that you need help on or need someone to listen to, I am here. I will try to help everyone that I can because I believe the only way we can help ourselves, is to help everyone else first!" (collinsje09)

"One of the things I have learned from having depression is that time is one of the best healers. If today is the worst day of your life, then you can be proud of yourself at the end of the day for getting through it.  And I don't think anything is wrong with you at all! The road to getting better is bumpy at times; some days and weeks will be better, and some worse. It takes time to learn how to deal with depression, but I promise, it will pay off. I know you can do this."  (Dragonrider)

Join now or login here.

Living with Chronic Illnesses

by Liz_ReachOut Community, Health

Coping with Chronic Illness

What does it mean to live with chronic illness? Here's how one ReachOut forum member put it into words in a recent post:

"I'm 15 and for most of my life have struggled with chronic illnesses from Depression and anxiety, to fibromyalgia, asthma and chronic migraines along with things that the doctors don't understand. Its been a constant journey or being diagnosed with one thing after another and never finding an answer for anything. I don't like to talk about it, and usually try my best to ignore everything because it makes me feel different. To be honest, it is very scary for me and I feel very alone."

Below is a response from another member, who can clearly relate to exactly what has been said:

"Hi crying_in_the_rain!
I want you to know that I really feel for you in your situation. I suffer from five mental illnesses and chronic joint and digestive pain that has mystified doctors for years. In high school, I felt like a freak -- I couldn't do stuff with my friends because I wouldn't be able to walk the next day or simply just couldn't keep up. I went to so many doctors who wouldn't believe that my pain was real (six years later it's still very real) or had half-assed solutions that put me in more pain. When I finally got a diagnosis for all my mental illnesses, and there were FIVE of them, I felt so overwhelmed and had no clue how to deal. Thankfully, my parents pushed me to see a therapist, who not only helped me with my mental illness, but also helped me reframe how I thought about my body. Instead of looking at all these diagnoses as separate, she encouraged me to see my body as a whole thing, working as best it could to function, and to love it because it's doing the best it can.

I also want you to know that you are NOT alone. I promise. One thing that gave me hope (the whole chronic illness thing doesn't help the depression as I'm sure you know) was finding a community. I was fortunate enough to have a disability alliance at my university, and they introduced me to local and online communities of people with chronic illness. I suddenly found a group of people who not only understood my experience, but they LIVED it. And because they lived it, and came together in a community, they had an abundance of resources for meet-ups, self care techniques, crisis resources (like they do on this site), and so much more. If you are interested, Tumblr has a huge community of disabled folks (these are people who have chronic illnesses, physical handicaps, and mental illnesses who all identify under the umbrella term "disabled"). They blog, talk together, create memes, spark political conversations about what it means to be disabled and how isolating it is, and even meet up locally. A great compliation of blogs on tumblr can be found here :http://chronic-illness-support.tumbl...sability-blogs. You don't have to be a member of tumblr to view their blogs either, so feel free to browse away.


I really hope that you know there are people out there who understand the frustration with doctors, the exhaustion of being in pain all the time, and the hopelessness mental illness leave you with. I also hope that you can find a community that can give you some hope. Know that there are people on this site and elsewhere that understand and can support and care for you!"

This is just one example of the kind of help and support you can find in the ReachOut forums. If you are suffering from a chronic illness and want more info, read this fact sheet, or are worried about someone else who is, click here.

Read other supportive responses in the forums here, or register to respond.

The Best Response Ever to Body-Shaming Graffiti

by RO_Meredith Community

carleighHow do you turn a crude act of bullying into a powerful stand for self confidence and body positivity? 

Take a cue from 14 year-old New Jersey resident and our newest ReachOut.com Youth Ambassador Carleigh O'Connell, who learned of an unkind act of graffiti directed towards her and decided not take it lying down. Instead, upon finding the wall where someone had spray painted the words “Carleigh’s ass”, she chose to climb up and strike a proud pose. The shot (shown here) was posted to her Instagram and later by her mom on Facebook with the following note on Carleigh's behalf:

"She decided that she was going to be stronger than hurtful words on the concrete and that she was going to be proud of her figure. She also told me that she feels complete sympathy for the teenagers across the country who face this everyday. She understands and wants all of them to find strength inside to rise above the nastiness and be empowered by who you are, how you are made and what is in your heart."

The photo, along with these touching words, went on to be shared over 16,000 times by people of all ages across the world. "I didn't realize I was taking a public stand at the time," Carleigh told ReachOut.com of the courageous act that not only landed her on the radar of the Today Show, Teen Vogue and "Wonder Woman" Lynda Carter, but also inspired many personal notes from teens as far away as Chile and Australia.  

Carleigh was so moved by the outpouring of support from young people who faced similar adversity that she sought out ReachOut.com as a resource she could share with those in need. "Sites like ReachOut.com, and Aboutface.org have a really positive message and were created for teens to have someone to talk to whenever they need it, day or night. Through amazing places like this, I’m happy knowing that no one has to suffer through this alone." 

ReachOut is proud to stand with Carleigh in her campaign against bullying and body shaming, and we hope her bravery inspires others to speak out, seek help and discover the tools they need in the ReachOut Forums to conquer their own walls of negativity.

In Carleigh's own words to ReachOut readers: "Be strong. Be happy with who you are. There is help, guidance and support with places like reachout.com. It's ok to talk about things that hurt. I know. My experience hurt but I was determined to make a positive out of the negative."

For more information around body image and bullying

Body image: love the skin you're in
What to do if you are being bullied
Self esteem
ReachOut Forums: share your story of dealing with body image 

 

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