I’m bisexual, not pansexual. The difference matters.

Let’s open an old can of worms.

Lucy the Oracle
10 min readJan 21, 2024


Photo by Stainless Images on Unsplash

Some people are pan, other people are bi, and I’m here to say that both are valid — but you shouldn’t take away anyone’s right to choose one label over the other.

Why does this subject keep reminding me of that post I wrote a while back comparing and contrasting Greek gods Pan vs Apollon? (Click here to read). Don’t get me wrong, I am indeed a polytheist and believe in their actual existence, but I also find a lot of joy in discussing them as archetypes that reflect fascinating aspects of humanity. One thing does not need to exclude the other.

Tangents aside, this is just going to be an article written FYI — so you can get to know me a bit better, if you care — and shouldn’t be taken as a blanket statement or judgement over groups of people. In other words, I’m discussing my own reasons for choosing a label for myself. I’m not trying to impose it on others who might relate, or take it away from those who do not. This should be obvious, but we’re in the Internet, and people are often too quick to take conclusions here.

So, for those of you who didn’t know, hi, I am one of those weird “rainbow people”. It was somewhat of a recent discovery (for which I’m super glad. There’s no chance in hell my family of origin would have been cool with that if they already abused me for, let’s be honest, stepping out of the norm a lot more subtly back then).

You might be wondering why I labeled it 18+ (or even if you aren’t, here’s the answer anyway) — no, I’m not one of those old-school people who say “let’s leave children out of this gay stuff”. I do in fact recognise the need for age-appropriate awareness about the queer community. The problem is… I can’t exactly stay family-friendly (ie, by vaguely talking about romance and leaving adult content out of the equation) when discussing the difference between bi and pan, specifically. One of the main reasons for that is the fact there is a subset of the pan community — the one that keeps being, to make an understatement here, “bitchy” against the bi — who tends to be, in my experience, a bit too vocal with adult content. There’s no tiptoeing around this content if I want to offer a different point of view on the never-ending debate about pan VS bi. So, make sure underage kids stay away from this article, and let’s get dirty.

What is a bisexual, and what is a pansexual?

Fran Tirado in the video above gives us a definition of pansexuality which I think makes a lot of sense, so here it is:

“I think that most people would describe pansexuality as someone who is either agnostic about the gender they’re attracted to, or attracted to all genders”.

He goes on to mention that there sometimes is overlap between “bi” and “pan”, to which I agree. There doesn’t always need to be a divide or an either-or situation, and I’m not here to dictate what anyone should identify as.

But if things are as wholesome and harmless as the above scholars say, then why is there so much conflict between these two communities? Could it be (*gasp!*) they’re hiding some of the problematic stuff under the rug in order to paint a rose-tinted picture of this whole situation? I won’t drag them for that, of course — sometimes we need to do that if we’re speaking to a so-called “normie” audience. However, it’s probably interesting to explore what’s behind the divide, where it came from, and what are the implications for queer people today.

Historically speaking (and here am I, putting on my “unofficial Historian who uncovers timelines to debunk people’s wishful thinking” hat), love it or hate it, admit it or not, rage at me all you want… the fact of the matter is that “Bisexual” came first. The label was coined by (then known as) “homosexual activists” during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s in the US, notoriously making public the (now global) Pride movement for the first time in the year of 1970.

If in doubt, just remember that the acronym LGBT (now LGBTQ+ among other variants) is definitely older than MOGAI (we’ll get to that).

More specifically for the B letter — The word “bisexual” has actually been in current use since 1859 when it used to describe a condition we now identify as intersex. Languages are wonderfully alive and ever-evolving, so why should English be any different? The modern meaning of Bisexual (“someone attracted to more than one gender” — not my words but the words of Bisexuals who were actually there when some of the world’s first Bisexual activist groups were formed) became more common than the original meaning during the 1970s.

“Pansexual”, on the other hand, seems to have been coined in the 1990s as an alternative to “Bisexual”, because some people felt the former was too… Binary.

Photo by Eren Namlı on Unsplash

I find this debate fascinating because it also reminds me of an age-old Philosophical discussion — that of duality vs non-duality. I couldn’t help noticing it as a Buddhist. The conversation itself transcends religion, of course (so if you’re an atheist, don’t panic), and can be summarised (albeit a bit imperfectly) in the difference between a binary and a spectrum. Generally speaking, spectra are more prevalent in nature, whereas binaries are commonly found as a product of the human mind trying to oversimplify and categorise nature.

Ya know, we are simple creatures and enjoy putting things in boxes even when they don’t fit very well.

Generally speaking, I tend to agree that it’s always best to look at the dichotomies we see in the world through the lens of a spectrum. This makes more room for nuance, complexity, tolerance, and inclusivity.

At the same time, however, I don’t just live by Buddhist principles. I also happen to follow Delphic maxims. One of my favourites is “nothing in excess”. When you look at the ideals I cited above — nuance, complexity, tolerance, and inclusivity — maybe they sound good and make you look like a kind and compassionate person… But are they ALWAYS good? Are they good to a LIMITLESS extent? Is it a-okay to leave them totally unchecked and expanding to infinity? Are you sure about that?

Let’s talk about degeneracy.

This is where my article turns 18+.

I’ve already talked about the dangers of degeneracy in other blog posts, if you’re interested in my stance — here are links to blog posts on the TERF obsession with sexual violence, godspousing part 1, godspousing part 2, and why the oppressed sometimes turn to the dark side. The common thread of information (or hopefully wisdom) they all share is the fact that just because certain people aren’t privileged, that doesn’t mean they can’t harm others. Hardship and injustice don’t make anyone a saint beyond reproach.

Here, I’ll simply talk about degeneracy in a queer context. It exists in every context, FYI, especially among cis straight people, so if you misconstrue my words, prepare for a public call out. I know the “poor unfortunate souls” dislike being called out on their BS, but alas, if you were expecting some undeserved coddling, you came to the wrong corner of the Internet.

“Oh but you’re enabling prejudiced people’s fears about us”, some offended queer will say. Yes, and? I don’t think the mask of immaculate saint suits anybody, on any side of the political spectrum. If anything, it breeds unrealistic expectations and disappointment INTERNALLY. No thanks. We’ve had enough in-fighting already. If the outsiders wanna judge our human flaws (which they, too, have), it’s THEIR loss. Why sacrifice unity for the sake of impressing “the normies”? That stinks of vulnerable narcissism — smother your own in shame and guilt for their NATURAL humanity but please the strangers. What the fuck even IS that? Where is your ACTUAL pride?

The more we compete for the title of “saint and martyr” in the left (among people who, in their overwhelming majority, aren’t even Christian anymore), the more we’re empowering the far-right to become more and more unhinged. It’s like role play. They attack, we adapt and suffer until somebody external takes pity on us because of how flawless and fragile we are. Yeah, no. I beg to differ.

With the above said… While it’s usually helpful to open your eyes and accept the “dark side” of your humanity for what it is… Acceptance isn’t the same as enabling forever. Acceptance just means you strive to free yourself of the shame and guilt, and be kinder to yourself; but that’s not the final destination towards becoming a better person.

Yes, a better PERSON. Human being. Regardless of where you stand in society. We all have room to grow.

Do these MOGAI teenagers on Tumblr… have paraphilias? Because that’s what it sounds like in a first impression. I mean, if you’re telling me that gender is a spectrum beyond percentages of male and female (and therefore so is sexual attraction)… we’re no longer just talking about humans, are we?

It’s very easy for them to judge Bisexuality on a first impression basis (which is why I made the provocation above) by claiming, wrongfully, that it’s just “this female box” and “this male box” and they’re neat and clearly divided and don’t interact. In fact, all there is to bisexuality is an attraction to more than one gender, but yes, we still need the goddamn binary implication within the word because the trans and the intersex are still included in “people who have varying percents of male and female in them”. Male and female (ya know, a binary, in case you haven’t noticed) are the only constituting parts of their gender identities. They just come in varying percents, all equally valid.

You see, I’m not coming here to affirm, matter-of-factly, that Pansexuality includes paraphilias. I’m simply pointing out that the word does not exclude them. It could be the case that every Pansexual person in the whole entire planet (just a hypothesis…) engages in perfectly legal and moral sexual activities which “the normies” simply dislike because of prejudice. Sure. But they’re still not excluding the possibility of not-fully-consensual-things, when using this Pan- prefix (which means “all” in Ancient Greek). They’re not exactly caring about delimiting sexuality in any way, shape, or form.

And while the intention of boundless inclusivity can be noble, as we already saw, “nothing in excess” is good.

Again, this is not to shame hypothetical people who might perhaps have paraphilias they haven’t fully thought about or realised. I don’t think shame would be helpful here. Certain fantasies, urges, and addictions can come from a very legit trauma, which ultimately is never the person’s fault. But addressing the feelings in a private and confidential setting could be a good idea.

“Pansexual” could be an orientation that includes speculative forms of being and relating in the world — as adult consenting humans.

A common theme I’ve come across when researching this topic in more depth was the fact MOGAI defenders sometimes come from a place of merely making a political statement about role-play and kink… Which is perfectly fine. “It’s grand”, like the Irish say here.

It’s not my cup of tea, though. I would rather focus on what’s already realised in the present, instead of daydreaming about alternate dimensions and fantasy worlds… But to each their own. There’s nothing wrong in that. Hail Dionysos and the wonderful world of theatre, am I right?

This is a big part of why I’m writing this article. I’m fully aware I could come across as a dissociative person with a fertile imagination because I’m a religious outlier. In fact, the contrary is true. I was atheist for the good part of a decade, exactly because I’m so down-to-earth and focused on the here-and-now. I happened to change my mind not because “I have a lot of faith uwu”, but because of phenomena I did experience, in the here-and-now (at the time) which I couldn’t explain with an atheist framework.

Regardless of future or hypothetical possibilities of not-fully-human beings I could perhaps one day feel attracted to… I’d much rather limit my focus to the “entirely human, thank you very much” people I already know I am in fact attracted to. Hence, I’m bi, not pan. Personal choice, no shade to the other side — or at least, no shade to the entirety of the other side.

Some Pansexuals would argue they use the label because they believe in godspousing and similar phenomena — well first of all, you can’t be sure that qualifies as sex, let alone a relationship (although the attraction is indisputable. But the word “fantasy” is there for a reason); Secondly, even if I’m wrong and it does… Gods and spirits at least look like adult humans or humanoid. And the ones who don’t… Well… Let’s just say I haven’t seen their godspousing community anywhere just yet.

Other people would feel a bit offended at what I said above because “hey! I have kinks with fantasy creatures but I’m not even queer!” — And that’s okay too. I’m just trying to make sense of the entire Pansexual phenomenon and help validate it, ok? Cut me some slack. I could as well have said “well guys, I don’t know, maybe it’s just the modern way of saying Bi”. But I didn’t. I’m being nice. I hope this will be a two-way-road.

I’m having fun with this. The more you guys show me, the more interesting it gets. Rest assured, I’ll defend everyone’s right to exist to hell and back (with the sole exception of degenerates who harm themselves and others). Whatever consenting adults do is none of my business… Although, perhaps, allow me the luxury of picking my own label for now. I’m not making a political statement with it, myself. No… My statement already stands in terms of defending people’s existence. Choices and preferences are another story entirely and you can’t manipulate me into choosing everything just because whatever I exclude “will be sad”. Let’s grow up.



Lucy the Oracle

Oracle learner / spirit worker based in Ireland. Buddhist/polytheist. I don't read minds. I don't change minds. I don't sugarcoat. Take my message or leave it.