Hi, this is kind of an odd question and feels like a weird problem to have, but here goes; I came out as bisexual to my mum a few years ago, and then as gay to my family and friends last summer. I was happy, comfortable (I’m Christian and made my peace in that area) and everything was fine, but after a few months I found I wasn’t attracted to women or men. I didn’t tell anyone, I wasn’t sure if they’d take me seriously, and none of my friends are anything but straight, and my dad is homophobic. Then recently I’ve become attracted to both men and women and now identify as pansexual, but don’t know whether I should come out AGAIN to people; also nobody I know has heard the word pansexual before. I tried telling one friend and after attempting to explain it to her she just said “so you’re bi yeah?” I really don’t feel like I’ll be taken seriously – what should I tell people? I feel like I’m being dishonest by not saying anything, but I don’t know how they’ll react and what I should say, or whether it’s even worth it.
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I’m glad you decided to reach out to The Trevor Project in your time of confusion. Sometimes its not easy to open up to others about our problems, especially if its someone you don’t know. You show tremendous bravery for sharing your coming out struggle with us and you should be proud of yourself for how far you’ve already come! You have overcome the initial obstacle of letting the most important people in your life know that you are not straight. This is not easy! It is absolutely wonderful that you have found acceptance from those you love, especially on a religious level. What a joy to be able to be open about your sexuality and find peace! Even though you’re having some doubts about whether you will be accepted for your pansexuality, please take a moment to be grateful for how far you’ve come and love yourself for how brave you’ve been.
Unfortunately I can’t tell you exactly what you should do, because you know your family and friends best. However, I can tell you that even though there is a chance you will come across people who won’t understand your pansexuality, there is just as much of a chance that they will, because they’ve already accepted your bisexuality. Generally, people who accept gays or bisexuals are more likely to accept other sexualities than people who don’t accept it at all. If your friends and family members have accepted your bisexuality, there is a good chance they will accept your pansexuality.
I know it can be extremely fear-inducing to come out in any way, whether gay, bi, or pansexual. But let me offer a few suggestions. Only follow them if you are comfortable doing so. First, you don’t necessarily have to make it a formal “coming out” process. The people in your life already know you are not straight. Perhaps the best thing to do is to just casually bring it up to friends or family when it feels natural in conversation. You could say something like, “you know, I actually feel like I relate more to pansexuality than bisexuality, because I don’t seem to see the person’s sex when I’m attracted to someone.” You could say it in an observational manner, to help the other person understand what pansexuality is. Whether you want to make it a formal coming out process is entirely up to you. There are no “should” or “shouldn’t”s. The only “shouldn’t” is you shouldn’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. If telling people you’re pansexual doesn’t feel right yet, there is no harm in waiting! There is no rush, and you are not being dishonest. Your sexuality is your business.
Second, if it feels right to you, maybe take some time to explain to those important to you what exactly pansexuality is. Kindly open a dialogue where you can explain that pansexuals do exist and that it can be tough for you. I know that one of your friends had a hard time understanding. Unfortunately a lot of people are uneducated as far as what pansexuality is, or they are ill-informed. Be patient with people as you explain that you don’t see the male/female, but rather you see the personality or gender identification, which you become attracted to. You may run across those who do not understand, but that’s ok! Give them some time to adjust and just be proud of who you are. Not everyone will understand what it is because its sometimes a difficult idea for people to wrap their minds around in this society. But there is a good chance that the people closest to you will listen because its important to you! And its also much easier to go from accepting someone pansexual who they once knew as bisexual, than it is accepting someone pansexual who they thought was entirely straight.
I would also suggest you find an LGBT center near you (http://www.lgbtcenters.org/Centers/find-a-center.aspx), where you can find people who you feel confident will accept you no matter what. Also consider exploring The Pan Alliance Forum: (http://thepanalliance.forumotion.com/). There you can find and talk to other pansexuals who are going through similar issues. Also check out The Experience Project (http://www.experienceproject.com/) where you will find stories from many other pansexuals.
Remember that you are not alone! Many pansexuals face the exact same coming out issue. You are unique in your sexuality and you are strong. Be proud of yourself and how far you’ve come already!