First of all - congratulations on knowing who you are! I have no idea where you are in your life, but at least knowing to yourself what your sexual identity is (as of right now) is a HUGE step, and a major accomplishment. That should be the first thing you are proud of! So many people go through life so confused and re/oppressed about who they are that they never fully realize what and who they can be.
As for telling your parents and friends… that’s always a doozy. Some people lose friends by coming out, and sometimes people have very bad experiences when telling their parents; I hope this doesn’t happen to you. We’ve all heard the video/audio from the man in Kennesaw, GA when his family tried to have a “pray the gay away” intervention with him - which ended terribly. However, there are also all the wonderful stories of immediate acceptance and true support that are plentiful with simple searches online…. But for you - I think the first thing you should do is “arm” yourself by considering the people you want to tell - what do you think their reaction will be, honestly and objectively? Will they want to learn more? Will they have a ton of questions for you? Will they want to research on their own? What should you have ready for them? Consider having books and resources at the ready. A great option for parents to read would be “Always my Child” by Kevin Jennings; this book doesn’t really cover pansexuality - but it’s a start!
Rather shockingly, there is no (that I could find) national pansexual-specific awareness/education/advocacy group. However, you could get some information from many of the bisexual advocacy groups who have become rather pan-friendly in recent years.
The main advice I have to give is this - be yourself, and be ready to answer a bunch of questions. Don’t hold back, but don’t negate or denigrate yourself for others. It is hopeful that your family will accept you, and that your true friends will remain. If they don’t - maybe they weren’t meant to be in your life right now.
As for gathering the courage to come out… maybe try some of these things:
This is all just one step in the giant labyrinth of coming out - a process that lasts your whole life. However, the first time is a big deal, and one that you never have to (get to) do again, so at there’s that.
If you’ve ever been to an LGBTQQIA+ PRIDE event, you have doubtless observed a rainbow flag fluttering in the breeze. But is the rainbow the only symbolic flag for LGBTQQIA+ people? Absolutely not, there are a few others that stand for many sexual identities. This is my attempt to outline some of the most popular.
‘Fun with Flags’ - the Traditional Rainbow Flag of the Gay Pride Movement
The rainbow flag most closely aligned with the gay community (at large) was originally designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, and contained 8 stripes. Over time this has evolved into the standard 6-stripe primary color version that is most popular, and seen world-wide. This is, obviously, the most recognizable symbol of LGBT pride.
Did you know, that the colors mean something? Of course they do! In the original 8 stripe version, Baker assigned specific meaning to each color, which includes (6 stripe version in bold);
Hot Pink; Sexuality
Individual Sexualities also have their own flags/colors too!!
In 1998, Michael Page designed the Bisexual Pride Flag, to represent bisexuals as a distinct sexuality. He designed the flag to represent the interests of the bisexual community, specifically, their sexual attraction to both genders. He stated that the Pink part represents same-sex attraction, the blue represents opposite-sex attraction, and the purple is the overlap/combo of the two colors, representing the attraction to both genders.
There is a Pansexual Pride Flag, but it is not attributable to a single source for design. Instead, it has simply arrived in the pride movement since mid-2010 online. The colors, again, mean; pink - those who identify with the female spectrum; blue - those who identify with the male spectrum; and yellow - those who identify with non-binary gender expression (e.g. androgyny, agender, bigender, genderfluid, trans*, etc.).
Asexual people have also developed a flag to represent themselves at Pride events, and anywhere they would like to have a visual representation. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) is responsible for the design, and was generated in 2010 - a relative newcomer to the field.
…. Now, you may be wondering - what about Trans* people? What about GenderQueer, etc? Well, I purposefully did not discuss those identities in this post, because they are not sexual attraction identities, but rather gender identities, which is an entirely different component to a person’s make up. However, keep checking - maybe that will be in a future post!
So, did I miss any? Let me know!
This page is a blog and repository of Dr. B - a sex therapist, educator, researcher, activist and speaker. Interested in all things sexual, social justice, LGBTQQIA+, and mental health.