I guess from the title you’ve already figured out I’m pan. Or maybe you’ve read my stories and figured it out that way. But you probably didn’t know that, even though I’m pansexual and write about same-sex sensual adventures, I’ve never been with a woman.
How I discovered my (bi)sexuality
I figured out I was bisexual when I was seventeen (I didn’t know about the term pansexual back then). I knew I was “different” before that, but I didn’t know there were more people like me and that it actually had a name.
I thought there was something wrong with me, that I was weird around sex as I was weird around many other things. Hypersexual. Filthy. Because I should like guys, right? Or girls. But not both. I didn’t know of anybody, famous or not, that liked men and women, until one of my friends told me one day, “You know what? I think I’m bi”.
I went home and searched for what that meant and everything fell into place. The category “bisexual” has been disputed, as you probably all know. I won’t discuss that here today, but in any case, and just to clarify, I define my sexuality as pansexual, meaning that I could like anyone, independently of how they refer to their gender. You can read more on bi- vs. pansexuality here.
Why I struggled with being bi/pansexual
As a teenager, I was very sexual. I molded myself to fit into what I thought being bi- or pansexual meant, and although it fitted into my personality nicely, it fitted for all the wrong reasons. I had sex to fit in, to keep people (guys) by my side. I exaggerated my sexuality because I let it define me, instead of it being just a part of who I was.
It brought me acceptance and gave me value, but it also brought on a lot of shame. There was always something that eluded me that I felt I needed to be complete and be able to call myself bisexual without anyone questioning it. But actually, what was really happening was that I was questioning myself because I wasn’t sure of who I was and I was trying to fit in at all costs.
Most of my friends knew I was bi, but I didn’t know anyone else except that one friend who identified as I did. It was most definitely not “in fashion” back then, it was difficult to find fellow bisexuals – or at least it was for me. We were still thinking in binaries: hetero- or homosexual, but not both.
Both was just for sex-crazed people, nymphomaniacs. Or to fulfil men’s fantasies. And even then you weren’t really into women (if you were a bisexual woman, I mean), it was just for the thrill of it.
Even though I had found my group, my “classification” if you like, I still felt shame around who I was: there was too much judgment around bisexuality. And I still didn’t fit in. I’d already had male partners, but I hadn’t had any type of relations with a woman that exceeded friendship.
And I was scared to be part of the LGTBQ+ community. I didn’t know what that would mean for me. There was a lot of judgment from other sectors of this community against bisexuals, not to mention the judgment from the heterosexual community. Would I be shamed? Would I be judged as “needing the attention”? I was (I still am, sometimes) a coward: I’d had boyfriends, not girlfriends, so why should I bother to come out?
I guess my greatest fear was (and is) rejection, in all its forms. I knew how to be around guys, how to show that I liked them or not, how to know if they liked me. Yes, this seduction ritual was all taught by outdated dating standards from movies and romance novels and an antiquated society, but I knew.
I knew how to use my weirdness around them so that I would be interesting, sexy, mysterious. But I didn’t know how to do it around women. I had no examples and my low self-esteem made me crave to be desired – no failure was acceptable. So, to avoid being rejected, I didn’t even try.
I wasn’t brave enough. And even though the opinion around bi- and pansexuals has changed and my self-esteem doesn’t depend on others’ opinions as much anymore, I still haven’t been with a woman.
Hardly any of my friends were on the queer spectrum when I was a teenager and we never considered going to a gay bar. I suspect it would have been easier to lose my fear of failure if I had at least known that most of the women at the bar were also into women.
But the past is in the past and we cannot change it. We can learn from our mistakes, though. My current friends are much more diverse, although now it’s me that doesn’t want to go out. Not just to a gay bar, but to any bar, really. My party days are over.
How I’ve come to terms with my sexuality (and myself)
Even so, I've had opportunities that didn’t depend on crowded spaces and intoxicated minds. However, I’m still scared. Scared of flirting in general. I’m an introvert: I’m not good at meeting new people. Flirting with a friend is fine, but flirting with a stranger is a danger zone. So I keep away.
Admittedly, if I were drunk it would probably help me get over this flirt-fear. Maybe I should give parties a second chance.
The problem with my lack of experience is that I considered being pan a crucial part of my identity – maybe even the main one – and I wanted to explore it. I felt frustrated that I wasn’t brave enough, flirty enough, strong enough to approach a woman.
I still consider being pansexual a part of my identity, but I’ve controlled my frustration so that it doesn’t control me or my self-worth. I used to panic at the thought of settling without having been with a woman.
Was I not gay enough, pan enough? Would anyone believe that I liked women if I had never been with one? And then later, would the first woman I was with laugh at me because I was already 24 and still a “lady-virgin”? Would I know what to do or would I embarrass myself?
I don’t think I’m the only one in this situation and that’s why I wanted to share my story this Pride Month. Because it’s okay to not have tried everything, that doesn’t make anyone a worse member of the LGBTQ+ community. I still have plenty of time to explore if I want to and I’m sure you do, too.
It’s taken me a while to move on from these doubts and accept that I don’t fit into the bi- or pansexual stereotypes. I’ve managed to take my (love) life as it comes. Being pan is still an important part of my personality, but it isn’t the only part.
It doesn’t define me or my self-worth in the LGTBQ+ community or outside of it. I’ve left room for my identity as a woman, as a writer and as an all in all complex human being to flourish. A lady will come when she comes if she comes.
Newsflash: there’s no correct way to be bi- or pansexual
If you’ve ever felt like an inadequate member of the bi- or pansexual community, here is what I want to say to you:
It's important to be respectful in these discussions: just because you want to do something doesn’t mean your partner is okay with it. Maybe they’ll be okay with it under certain conditions, like being present when you have sex with a woman (i.e. having a threesome). Maybe they’ll be okay with it if it’s just one time or a one night stand.
State what’s okay with you and what isn’t and listen to your partner’s boundaries. Find the equilibrium that works best for both of you. And if you can’t find that equilibrium, you have to consider what’s more important to you: your partner, or your exploration. Choose freely – there aren't any wrong answers.
And, in the end, what matters is that your worth doesn’t come from your sexuality, how many partners you’ve had, or which collective they were a part of. It’s easy to forget that when we live in a society that has an abundant collection of taboos around sex, but that also values sexual experiences above everything else – do everything and anything, but please, keep it a secret.
It’s confusing.It’s okay not to have done everything you want to do – yet. It’s okay to evolve and want things you didn’t want before. We must strive to liberate ourselves from norms and taboos that don’t resonate with us, whichever direction they may come from.
But respect your own pace for development and exploration along the way. Keep in mind that no one can define you or your sexuality except yourself; there are no rules here – except consent.