My bio says I’m “pan/gay”, which might seem pretty self-contradictory, right? It’s one or the other, right?
Well, here’s why:
First of all, sexual orientation is a spectrum. Second of all, it’s not set in stone. I don’t think anyone has to just pick one label and stick to it. Calling myself “pan/gay” is my way of saying that I’m attracted to people of all genders, but with a strong preference for guys. How strong? Am I a 4 or a 5 on the Kinsey scale? Dunno 🤷 There’s the word “homoflexible”... But am I homoflexible? And how many people know what it means without googling?
I don’t know, and I care less and less about putting a label or a number on it. One thing for sure: just “pan” or just “gay” doesn’t tell the whole story. But combined? They say enough and are easy to understand.
And then, there’s also this thing that I’m nonbinary. I might look like a man at the first glance, I might own a penis, but I’m not a man, I don’t subscribe to the binary. Is it gay to be into guys, if I’m not a guy? What do I call that? There’s this thing called diamoric orientations, but neither one from the list really fits me (and again, almost nobody knows them).
And finally, I’ve spent a huge chunk of my life identifying as gay ( Coming out as... not so gay 🤷🏼). I’ve become a part of the gay community, used gay apps, visited gay bars, and I still do. That identity doesn’t disappear overnight just because I finally decided to embrace other sides of my sexuality. It never will. My “gayness” is more than just attraction to guys.
Don't forget, that in many contexts “gay” might actually be a synecdoche for the whole LGBTQ+ community. For instance, when you advocate for “gay rights”, you probably don't want to exclude bi or pan folx, you do demand the same rights for them as you demand for gay people, even if you don't explicitly mention them. Or when you use the rainbow flag to represent gays specifically, as well as queers in general. Or when you use “gay pride” and “LGBTQ pride” interchangably.
So, summing up: it’s not self-contradictory, it’s just complicated. But “pan/gay” is the best approximation of the truth I can fit in 7 bytes, so I’ll go with that.