On dating a straight, white guy as a pansexual, Latinx woman
Feature photo by Emma Frances Logan on Unsplash
The first time I joked to my boyfriend about how cute I found another woman happened when we were watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. over Skype. Jemma Simmons, played by Elizabeth Henstridge, is smart, scrappy, caring and very attractive — definitely fit for a TV crush. (And don’t even get me started about Rachel Zane from Suits, now known as Duchess of Sussex!) Still, despite the advantages of being able to talk about hot ladies with my boyfriend, there are challenges to being a pansexual woman dating a heterosexual man.
So, what does it mean for me to be pansexual?
I am not officially out of the closet to some people in my personal life, so this may come as a shock to you and that is OK. I am sorry I didn’t have the guts to tell you to your face, but I don’t apologize for offending you either — because owning my identity has been a particularly tough journey.
At first, I thought I was bisexual, which would mean I like guys and girls. But now I recognize that there is a wider spectrum of gender outside of the accepted binary. My pansexuality means my attraction is not limited by biological sex, gender or gender identity.
About dating a straight guy as a queer woman
I am so thankful that after a string of dysfunctional relationships I found a partner who is so accepting of everything that I am.
My boyfriend Charlie was my best friend for six months before we started a romantic relationship — he was “my person” long before we started dating. When we first met, I was both a huge flirt and entirely not interested in him. We went hiking and we Skyped and we watched movies, and I quickly came to realize this was the type of partner I didn’t know I wanted, but needed.
He was quiet and unassuming, but also sweet and steadfast. Where I was anxious, he was calm. Where I was impatient, he was always teaching me that things would work out.
I love my boyfriend and he loves me. I am enchanted by his patience and his steadfast persistence, and his daily growth beyond the the neat little categories society can use to pit us against each other.
I came out to myself in 2016, even though I had known I was queer since kindergarten. (I couldn’t put words to the crush I had on my best friend, so I just thought that was just how close friendship felt.) I came out to my parents in 2017, and they were supportive and loving.
However, I still have no idea how my family would react if I was actually in a relationship with a woman.
Even though I have come to terms with my identity, the fear of my grandparents never talking to me again is too great — as is the exhaustion of explaining my significant other to those in the church and constantly fearing rejection.
On the flip side, when I have come out to other friends, there has always been a positive reaction, and I think this is because times are changing.
Even when I wasn’t dating anyone, people have questioned my pansexuality.
When I was a junior in high school, I was wrestling with a lot of issues: self-harm, codependency, questioning Christianity as the one right path and my pansexuality.
I enrolled in a teen center that specializes in helping high school students deal with things like self-harm through the lense of Christianity. I told one of my leaders that I liked girls, too, and she went on to give me a whole soliloquy about how the devil was giving me unclean thoughts and my attraction was jut a phase of experimentation.
Not only did her response to my coming out make me not trust her, but that experience rocked my trust in the Christian church as a whole. As someone who was already questioning Jesus as our savior and “the only way,” it solidified my feelings of unease, like I didn’t belong there anymore.
And then there's the part about passing.
Part of me is relieved that I don’t have to constantly be on-guard for racist and homophobic assaults, or people trying to convert me because I don’t identify as a Christian. Part of me is tired of “passing” as a member of the dominant culture, while my truth is something else.
Because I am dating a guy and passing as straight, people don’t ostracize me from their perfect little idea of how society should function. Or perhaps, in the current political climate, I am lucky I pass as white, even though I come from a family line of Mexican immigrants and my last name is Esparza, and the thing that feels most like home to me is the Hispanic culture.
After being bullied for years, from elementary school through high school, all I ever desperately wanted was to fit in. However, my spirit is constantly showing me how I just won’t ever fit in, and isn’t that nice?
I feel like this water droplet on a slick surface, who is constantly being asked to flatten out already and join the surface. But all I can do is keep rolling around, waiting for a place to fit in, while the sunlight sparkles through me and dazzles those around me — enchanting some people and obscuring others’ view with my brilliance.
As a pansexual, Latinx woman, my goal in life is to be able to embrace all of my identities, and for my actions speak louder than the labels assigned to me.
As a pan woman, I am trying to live beyond labels. As a woman who grew up in a Christian church and is trying to figure out how I can still enter spiritual spaces while maintaining my truth, I am trying to live beyond labels.
As members of the LGBT+ community, it’s important that our stories are heard. Because while we all break out of the box of heteronormativity, people still assume that all LGBT+ people act the same and have the same experiences. But then that assumption then puts us into another box. 🍒