Queer and Not Always Here: Problems of Pansexuality

By Toni Morrison/@ToniWhorrison

On the sexual colour spectrum I’m fairly straight passing – so let’s say grey. Think a grey unicorn with a weave – so to most people, basically an average horse.

Most of the people I date are men, because in Gaborone one has a higher chance of running into a jaded straight woman who wants to “try women because they won’t hurt her” than a woman who’s genuinely attracted to other women. In the trans community is quite tiny, more out of a genuine fear of coming out than a lack of existence, methinks.

So overall, it’s a pretty heteronormative society and I, for the most part, do not stand out.

Until I actually start speaking on sexuality, that is.

Because our community’s pretty hetero-normative, homophobia, transphobia and a general ignorance when it comes to anything non hetero runs rampant. One’s bound to bear witness to a tirade on “the gays” and “those people” when discussing any LGBTI related topic. You’re bound to be the odd one out should you point out any wrong in their speech/behaviour.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had people stare at me with a confused look as I declare that I too, am in fact “of the gay” and “one of them”.

‘So what, are you a lesbian? You don’t look like a lesbian! You can’t be a lesbian!’, they say, and I think

Damn. I must have left my “I eat the pussy” forehead sticker at home again.

‘No, I’m not a lesbian.’

‘Are you bi? Bi chicks are the coolest. You know I’ve always wanted to have a threesome. You got any bi chick friends?’

Or from the women,

‘Oh. That’s cool. So like, do you like, ever sleep with your friends? Or wanna? Cos I’m straight so…’

‘No, I’m not bi. And no.’

At this point I am usually rolling my eyes because I know what’s about to come. Their list of “Things Non Straight Women Are” has been exhausted so now they’ll ask (or declare) that I’m lying because those two options that are open to all non-straight woman.

‘Then what are you?’

‘I’m pansexual.’

And then, almost on cue, if you listen closely enough, one can hear the cogs in their heads grind to a halt then take up again, this time at double the speed. But because they haven’t been oiled in ages it’s all a huge unproductive mess in there.

‘What? What’s that? Do you fuck pans or something?’

Christ, if I had a pula for every time some unoriginal, simple minded oaf has tried to crack this joke I could afford to print a plethora of t-shirts with the definition of pansexual on them, to wear every time I leave the house.

‘I would think that would be more of a fetish than a sexual orientation but whatevs. It means I’m attracted to people of any sex or gender identity.’

And again, the cogs come to a halt.

‘What do you mean?! That’s bisexual! Akere there’re just men and women on Earth!’HOLAA

And you must understand that to these people there really are just men and women on Earth – that’s who they choose to acknowledge and therefore that’s where they end – everyone else is a wayward specimen of the human species.

Then comes a crash course in the human race and various identities – which subsequently exposes their transphobia and overall lack of genuine interest in anything other than what they’ve been taught since birth.

‘Why would a man wanna be a woman?’ They ask in disbelief, as if to say question why someone would leave their Godly manly status to be a mere woman? But more importantly, to them:

‘Why would you wanna fuck that?’

At this point, it’s usually a lost cause.

I lack the patience to try to convince an adult that another is worthy of their respect and love, even if they do not get their specific challenges and feelings. I lack the energy to try to make someone see how addressing people in a way they are not uncomfortable with is wrong. I simply lack what it requires to engage people who are committed to misunderstanding and disrespecting others.

Here I simply detach myself from the conversation and channel my inner Anna Wintour and once they are done being silly they insist that I am being difficult and won’t “teach them”.

It usually goes the same way because degenerates are creatures of routine, however, I once encountered one who was a new caliber of ignorant.

After explaining the necessary things about gender, sex and identity to this young man he stared at me and responded, ‘but then that means you’d fuck anything though!’

I recall staring at him blank faced.

‘No, it doesn’t. I just told you…’ but I was cut off when he jumped up out of his seat, excited and yelled

‘Probably even a dog!’

I felt my ears get hot as my patience wore thin.

‘Bestiality has nothing to do with pansexuality. If you were smart, you’d be able to make that simple conclusion.’

‘No but I mean, you basically said it’s whatever so like, if an alien came down and he had a dick, would you fuck him? You probably would! It sounds like it!’

I turned away and sparked a cigarette, internally purging my senses and entire Self of this person’s whole existence.

‘So would you fuck a dog?’ he baited.

‘Or an alien with a dick! Maybe you could have a threesome.’

The thought seemed to excite him but my complete disregard for his presence eventually mellowed him out and he asked, in a much lower voice, ‘Okay sorry but, what did you say it was again?’

Unfortunately for him, by the time he decided to start acting like a rational, respectful human being I had no interest in engaging him.

‘Fuck off and go Google it if you really wanna know.’

This level of ignorance, I’ll admit, isn’t new, just different. During my teens I only identified as bisexual because I, too, believed the world simply had cis men and women. Also, as far as I knew, as a non-heterosexual woman you were either a lesbian or bisexual.

As I grew and began to explore my sexuality and educate myself on sexuality more however I finally settled on pansexuality. I, however, found that as annoying as the constant threesome suggestions were when I identified as bi, at least people knew what it was.

With pansexuality people have no idea what it is and most are not willing to find out, which means more often than not I end up disrespected instead of just mildly irritated when trying to explain myself. Some days, I really don’t want to discuss it and I grow wary of the sometimes not so subtle attacks on my Self and identity.

And I feel a bit guilty because on the days when I sit in silence and merely advocate for LGBTI rights to homophobes/transphobes. On the days when instead of identifying in an intimate manner – instead of declaring that I’m pansexual I simply say ‘I’m not straight.’ One these days I feel as if I’m half stepping it and in a sense, hiding.

Logically I know it’s a self-preservation measure, but it doesn’t ease the slight shame I feel for not shouting “I’M PANSEXUAL AND PROUD SO SCREW YOU!” because it will be followed by a lecture and a possible fresh batch of abuse from the stranger.

The fact remains though, I have found one will always grow weary so long as they go against the decided norm.

Whether one is a

‘more-socially-acceptable-because-people-use-them-for-their-sexual-fantasies’ bi woman

or

a ‘less-socially-acceptable-because-people-don’t-get-it-and-can’t-force-it-into-their-version-of-acceptable-sexualities’ pansexual woman.

A fair portion of society would prefer we all be grey. Some out of a genuine hatred for anything/anyone “different” and others, out of fear and being used to what they deem “normal”.

As a queer woman I am in no way exempt from being on the receiving end of their shit because one part of my identity is more appealing to them than another. To them, queer is queer, and that’s all there is to it.

And therefore, in their eyes, that is all there is to me.

For more stories on sexuality check out Getting Bi and Ten Confessions of a Demisexual and What Team Do I play For? Doesn’t Matter I Play to Win.

Submit your writing, photos or anything else to HOLAA! email: holaafricaonline@gmail.com

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2 comments

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Bisexuality doesn’t mean that you believe that only cis men and women are men and women. I’m a Transgender woman and I’ve dated a lot of Bisexuals who get that. I also happen to be Bisexual as are many Transgender men and women binary and non-binary. What Bisexuality means to me is that I have attraction to people like me and people not like me. That’s still two categories. I have no problem with people who identify as Pansexual but when people say Bisexuals are really Pansexual because of their attraction to me I find that offensive it’s like they’re saying no Bisexual could possibly find me attractive.Are there some Bisexuals who stay within the binary of course just as there are gays and lesbians who do but that wouldn’t make the gays and lesbians who do date Transgender people Pansexual. http://thetaskforceblog.org/2014/09/30/biphobia-not-in-my-name/

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[…] It must have been early spring because the mid afternoon breeze was neither warm nor cold and the gainsboro sky wasn’t looking to be noticed. I was taking a stroll with Cassava Boy  (a male companion) when he reached over to me, squeezed my hand and excitedly giggled, “I’m so glad you’re not gay anymore”. […]

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