We’ve all heard the terms straight and gay. No one has to spell out LGBTQ. And more importantly, the country is making progress toward recognizing and respecting people who identify those ways.
But as Fusion’s Alicia Menendez pointed out on her show, Alicia Menendez Tonight, there are still other, under-recognized terms. Take the word pansexual, for example.
Pansexuals are people, Menendez noted, who "love across a spectrum."
Sometimes considered a more inclusive label than bisexual, pansexual people can be attracted to people of all gender and sexual identities.
Rapper Angel Haze, who told Menendez she would identify as pansexual if she had to choose a term, defines pansexual "as someone who sees people for who they are and not gender."
Another somewhat-overlooked term is asexual. These are people, Menendez said, for whom “sex is just out of the picture.”
Asexual people do not experience sexual attraction. Asexuality is different from celibacy because it is not a conscious choice.
“Asexuality does not make our lives any worse or any better, we just face a different set of challenges than most sexual people,” reads a post on the Asexual Visibility and Education Network. “There is considerable diversity among the asexual community; each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently. Asexuality is just beginning to be the subject of scientific research.”
David Jay, the founder of that site, told Menendez that he thinks "the biggest misconception about asexual people is that we don't have the same desire of intimacy as everyone else. We completely do…for emotional intimacy. We have the same desire to form deep relationships with people, to really kind of connect with communities and form romantic and non-romantic relationships."
Some people, like Angel Haze, would prefer to avoid the constraints of labels altogether.
“I think that labels aren’t for me,” she told Menendez. “You know, it’s not for a person, it’s to make other people comfortable, so I don’t really…buy into that.”
For others, like Sara Brooks, the founder of International Asexual Awareness Week, they've helped her realize she's not alone in her feelings.
"As I grew up I wasn't experiencing the same sexual attraction that other people my age were experiencing," she told Menendez. "So I ended up in therapy, trying to look for some sort of answer, and while I was looking for that answer…Google was the one that actually provided it for me."
We want to know: What other terms are under-recognized? Should we have these labels at all?
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.