“I’m not going to say I’m one thing when I’m not just so I can fit into people’s notions of how things are. I think people deny themselves by putting themselves into categories.” – Alan Cumming, on his sexuality.
For ages now, the human community has lived and thrived on the very idea of conformity; a kind of an unwritten law that society functions on. Good things should come to those who abide by the majority ideas, and bad things and marginalization to those who dare to defy. A person’s sexuality is one such thing which had initially been divided into neat categories; a man falls for a woman and a woman falls for a man. And everything else is bracketed off as the other.
Till one point homosexuality was equated with a myriad of unspeakable crimes and many people still believe it to be some heinous aberration like pedophilia or molestation. And then came the revolutionary acts of rebellion and defiance against the irrational, rigid system which forces people to be what they are not. With this homosexuality was out of the closet- it was now for the people themselves to step out. Today, even though the struggle is far from over, people have come a long way to accepting what they had previously “other-ed”.
But despite this seeming liberal state of mind that is ever rising or so claim most, the very idea of categorizing and labeling is still largely inherent in people’s mind. The problem is not that homosexuality or bisexuality is not accepted by some or that such people are marginalized. The larger issue here is that fact that people still feel the need to label people as “gay”, “straight” “lesbian” “transvestite” and so on. Calling a group of people as belonging to a “gay community” when they may have nothing else at all in common is a tyranny of sorts. For one may be gay but it doesn’t always follow that they want to wear a tag on their sleeves at all times identifying themselves as one.
In times like these, when liberalism is yet another form of categorization, pansexuality is one lesser-known label which, ironic as it may sound, defies the very idea of labeling. Also known as omnisexuality, it refers to the potential for sexual attractions, sexual desire, or romantic love, towards people of all gender identities and biological sexes. Some self-identified pansexuals refer to themselves as gender-blind–that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others. The Oxford English Dictionary writes that pansexuality “encompasses all kinds of sexuality; not limited or inhibited in sexual choice with regards to gender or activity”.
This concept of sexuality rejects deliberately the strict gender binary and rigid gender norms; in that they are open to relationships with people outside the male/female population who do not identify themselves with either gender. This is an idea which the few who know, have a hard time comprehending. The very idea of not being bound by any sort of an imposed label seems to most people as some kind of a social crime in itself.
Most people incorrectly assume that pansexuality is another word for polyamorous; some because they lack knowledge and some merely because it fits their comprehension more easily to label any difference they see in society as a bad one. If pansexuals are promiscuous then one need not worry about the enormity and novelty of the concept; it is bad and it must be shunned. This is not true since, in fact, the proportion of pansexual people in committed, monogamous relationships is likely similar to any other sexuality. Pansexuality, though a tag in itself, allows those people to express themselves, who do not wish to be categorized into a one-dimensional state of existence.
The constricting and suffocating idea of putting people in boxes and labeling them brings to mind the strange division of men into three broad types, in Plato’s Republic. Such a concept of categorizing not only stifles a person’s individuality but snubs their uniqueness. The very basis of human existence is the fact that they cannot be thus demarcated and any attempt to do so will create a regressive society full of unexpressed, frustrated people, pigeon-holed into stereotypes, forever looking for a way out.