Pansexuality is nothing new. In fact, according to the Oxford Dictionary, the term was first coined by psychologists in 1914 in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology as “pan-sexualism.” Eventually, the term evolved into “pansexual” and became a way to self-identify sexual orientation and in 2010 a pride flag emerged. Today it generally means, “not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.” Pansexuality, as a recognized orientation, has been around for a long time, but recognition for pansexuality has grown a lot in the last decade along with the broader LGBTQ+ movement.
Queer folks and others in the LGBTQ+ community have been working to increase awareness for pansexuality, anti-label sexuality and a general awareness that sexuality is a spectrum. Like any important issue, celebrities play a key role in spreading awareness. The more that questioning one’s own sexuality has filtered into the public consciousness, the more celebrities are realizing they might not identify with the only three options they thought that they had: gay, straight and bisexual. Here is a list of celebrities that are either pansexual and proud!
- Janelle Monáe
We know Janelle Monáe for her iconic outfits, her contemporary R&B/ psychedelic sound, her stand-out lyrics and her moving acting performances in Hidden Figures, Harriet and more. Monáe’s music has always been for those that are outside of the societal box. Her 2013 song, Q.U.E.E.N. features lyrics like, “They call us dirty cause we break all your rules down /
And we just came to act a fool, is that all right? (Girl, that’s alright)” and in her more recent song, I Like That (2018), she sings “I’m always left of center and that’s right where I belong /
I’m the random minor note you hear in major songs.” People have been speculating Monáe’s sexual orientation since she released “The Electric Lady,” in 2010 but she was always very private.
In 2018, Monáe told the world she was pansexual and dedicated her album to young people “who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality.” Prior to an interview with Rolling Stones, she thought she identified as queer and bisexual, but in the interview, she said “I read about pansexuality and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’” It seems that Monáe chose to be open about her sexuality to stand with others in the LGBTQ+ community and to serve as an example of a confident, sexually-free, queer individual. “Being a queer black woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherf—er,” she said.
- Miley Cyrus
Everyone in America likely knows something about Miley Cyrus. Starting out as a Disney Channel star in Hannah Montana, Cyrus has come a long way to be the symbol of sexual liberation that she is today. Ever since she rose to stardom, her romantic relationships have been tabloid headlines. Although she has been in several high-profile heterosexual relationships, she has made it clear on multiple occasions that she is a queer woman and, of course, she has also engaged in many public relationships with women as well.
Cyrus has been an LGBTQ+ activist for a long time and has known she was attracted to both men and women since she was 14. In 2015 she told Paper magazine, “I remember telling [my mom] I admire women in a different way. And she asked me what that meant. And I said ‘I love them. I love them like I love boys.’” She continued saying, “I don’t relate to being boy or girl, and I don’t have to have my partner relate to boy or girl.”
Also in 2015, Cyrus came out as pansexual. “My whole life, I didn’t understand my own gender and my own sexuality. I always hated the word bisexual because that’s even putting me in a box. I don’t ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl,” she told Variety in October 2016. The same year, she told Time magazine, in regards to Pride Month, “Just be who you want to be.”
- Brendan Urie
Brendan Urie became famous at 17 years old when Panic at The Disco released their first album. The music video to “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” featured a theatrical performance by an eyeliner-wearing Brendan Urie. LGBTQ+ fan communities adopted Urie as a queer icon before he had ever come out as non-heterosexual.
Fast-forward to Panic’s 2013 album, and it features a song called “Girls / Girls / Boys” with lyrics like “Girls love girls and boys” and “love is not a choice.” The song was intended to be about Urie’s first threesome at age 16 but has turned into a bisexual anthem. When asked about this, Urie said: “I feel like (bisexuality) needs to be celebrated, because a lot of times I feel like people are ashamed and they hide it and they might be a little scared to open up about it.”
Then, in a 2018 interview with Paper magazine, Urie officially came out as pansexual in the most casual way. “I guess you could qualify me as pansexual because I really don’t care. If a person is great, then a person is great […] I guess this is coming out as pansexual,” he said.
We all know Lizzo as a self-love icon. Her top hits, “Truth Hurts,” “Juice” and “Good as Hell” are about loving yourself and being an independent, confident person. Songs like these have been embraced by people in the LGBTQ+ community since they are intended to speak specifically to an audience of individuals who are different from the norm and to celebrate those differences. Lizzo has played at many pride events and often makes it a point to use inclusive pronouns. In her Tiny Desktop Concert with NPR, she won over many when she said that she’s, “f—boi, f—girl and f—them free,” making sure to be inclusive even in her representations of toxic people that she doesn’t have time for.
In a 2018 interview with Gay Times, she said, “Lately I’ve been all about erasing [societal] boxes, just kicking them all out. Like, even with heterosexual monogamy, look at those two boxes that the whole of humankind has been forced to fit inside by mainstream media. Getting rid of those two boxes would be incredible. I think the more that we understand each other, the easier it is to stick together, and I think a lot of the misunderstandings make it hard.”
That same year she also talked about her own sexuality, saying “When it comes to sexuality or gender, I personally don’t ascribe to just one thing. I cannot sit here right now and tell you I’m just one thing,” she said. “That’s why the colors for LGBTQ+ are a rainbow! Because there’s a spectrum, and right now we try to keep it black and white. That’s just not working for me.”
Whatever you identify is, it’s clear that there are some powerhouses in music that identify as pansexual. Their music is powerful and free, and not to mention incredibly fun. Enjoy!