The other morning I received a great question in my mailbox and thought it would be a good one to share with you guys.
“I have looked these multiple terms, but there is no better way than to get a clear definition and/or insight than from a professional. What is the difference between Bisexual, Pansexual, Polysexual, and Queer. I am at a lost.”
Ah, labels. Some people hate them, while others cannot live without. When it comes to the taxonomy of relationships, the language of labels can be a little on the tricky side. In fact, it can be downright confusing. What makes it all so difficult is that folks relate to one another in such nuanced ways that the smallest details count when talkin’ definitions. So, with that, let’s take a look at these four terms and see how they are both different an similar.
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, let me just say that these terms can definitely be confusing, especially because there are many definitions and folks don’t usually agree on one. This is my take on the whole thing.
1) Bisexual means that a person has the potential to be attracted sexually emotionally and/or romantically to both men and women. Bisexuality is couched in the notion that there are only two sexes and doesn’t leave room for there to be folks that identify as anything other than male or female. Many folks assume that bisexual means that a person is attracted to men and women equally, but I don’t believe that is always the case.
2) Pansexual means that a person has the potential to be attracted sexually, emotionally and/or romantically to all types of folks, regardless of biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, orientation, etc. This leaves room for folks who identify outside of the male/female binary, including trans and gender variant folks.
3) Polysexual, on the other hand, means that a person has the potential to be attracted sexually, emotionally and/or romantically to many types of folks, but not necessarily all. It too leaves room for folks who identify outside of the male/female binary, including trans and gender variant folks.
4) When it comes to Queer, the definition is very tricky because there really are so many ways that folks define the term for themselves and their lives. I can only give you my definition of queer and some resources to take a look at what other people say.
To me, Queer is an identity that really works as an intersection of sexual/romantic/emotional desires and lifestyle. Yes, queer folks have the potential to be attracted sexually, emotionally and/or romantically to all types of folks, regardless of biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, orientation, etc., but it’s more than just that.
To me, being queer is about making a proud/loud statement against heteronormativity, gender binaries and assimilation. Queer doesn’t just leave room for everyone on the gender continuum (as well as everyone who does not identify as part of the continuum), it readily embraces all gender identities, gender expressions, biological sexes, etc. Sure, you could say that someone who is Pansexual could identify as Queer, and someone who is Queer could identify as Pansexual, but again, I believe that Queerness is more than just who you wanna sleep with – it’s a political statement, an outward way to let folks know that you acknowledge that there is way more than a gender/sex binary and a way of life for many folks.
Phew, that was a big definition. And specifically my own definition. Do you have any other definitions or ideas you’d like to contribute? Comment away!