Singer and actress Janelle Monae came out as pansexual in an interview with Rolling Stone last week, describing herself as a “queer black woman” and a “free-ass motherfucker” who does not limit her sexual preferences by gender — or gender identity. The news drove a surge in searches on Merriam-Webster for the definition of pansexual.
📈 'Pansexual' is our top search today. 👑https://t.co/DJ8gUex3qs
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) April 26, 2018
In a letter to the editor published in USA Today, Allison Turner, a member of the Human Rights Campaign’s Bisexual+ Employee Research Group, hailed the Hidden Figures star for not only “proudly living her own truth,” but also for “bringing visibility to others like me whose sexual orientations are often erased or ignored.”
Less than half of bisexual youth, Turner notes, have family they can confide in about their sexuality and nearly one third of young bisexual people say they “frequently or often” face harassment at school, according to a survey from the HRC. For many young people growing up, Allison wrote, hearing major public figures and artists describe themselves as pansexual can help show people — queer or otherwise — that “these identities are as legitimate as they are prevalent.”
Pansexuality, Turner adds, is not the same as bisexualty in that pansexual people don’t distinguish sexual attractiveness by biological sex — a pansexual person, for instance, may find themselves attracted to transgender individuals, transexual individuals, or people who don’t identify as either a man or woman.
“I want young girls, young boys, non-binary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you,” Monae told Rolling Stone.
Regardless of how one identifies, Turner concludes, to see someone like Monae speaking up is “groundbreaking and worth celebrating.”
Read the full story at USA Today.