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After Janelle Monáe comes out, pansexual tops Merriam-Webster’s search

People were very confused about how pansexuality differs from bisexuality

After Janelle Monáe comes out, pansexual tops Merriam-Webster’s search
Janelle Monáe in 2010

Singer-actress Janelle Monáe recently came out as pansexual. Within 24 hours, the word pansexual topped Merriam-Webster’s search.

On 26 April, Rolling Stone magazine published its cover story about Monáe, where she opens up about her sexuality. That same day, dictionary Merriam-Webster tweeted the following:


Many Twitter users were confused about the term, wondering how it’s different from bisexuality.


Merriam-Webster defines pansexuality as ‘of, relating to, or characterized by sexual desire or attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation.’

They note that the term entered the English language in the early 20th century. However, it originally had a different meaning than it does today.

The word initially meant ‘tending to suffuse all experience and conduct with erotic feeling.’

On 27 April, pansexual was still at the top of Merriam-Webster’s search:

Bi vs. Pan

Many Twitter users, especially those who are LGBTI-identified found themselves in a frustrating situation of dealing with bisexual and pansexual erasure upon hearing Monáe’s news.

Additionally, many bi and pan-identified people were just getting sick of the jokes about cookware (just search ‘pansexual’ on Twitter and you’ll see tons of jokes about literal pans) and the idea that either bisexuality or pansexuality aren’t inclusive of trans and non-binary people.

The Human Rights Campaign even got involved to help dispel the confusion.

Basically, when it comes down to it, pansexuality like all sexual identities should be respected.

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