(Apologies for the gratuitous Bob Dylan lyrics, I’m taking a class.)
So the best thing ever happened to me the other day. I’m not gonna get too into it, because it’s not really relevant and also private, but I managed to snag the phone number of my waitress while I was at a table with five dudes who were all trying to do the same thing.
When I got the phone number, the one kid, seventeen years old, hold his pointer finger to my forehead and says, “But you’re straight.”
Now, I’m not, and I told him that. My relationship with my sexual orientation is complicated. I have go-to labels if anyone is really interested but they’re kind of obscure (demisexual/panromantic) and I get tired of explaining it, so mostly, my go-to when it comes to orientation is this emoticon: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
So he said, “But you’re straight.”
And I snorted and said, “No, I’m not.”
And he took his finger back, off of my forehead, and said, “Oh, you’re pan? No fair, she went for the pan charm.”
Now, I’m not pan. Not really. But I was surprised. I don’t remember ever coming out to this boy. He knew I liked dudes because I’m a hot mess who won’t shut up about them. For God’s sake, my phone case is Darren Criss, my lock screen is Nick Jonas, and my phone background is Misha Collins. It’s super clear I’m into dudes. And I’d just made it clear I was into ladies and (apparently) pretty proficient at flirting with them. Who knew?
And if I expected anything I would have expected him to jump to bisexual, which I also am not, but is at least more well known than pansexuality. Even google chrome recognizes bisexual as a word more easily than pansexual: pansexual has the little squiggly line under it.
So the fact that this high school kid immediately jumped to “Oh, you’re pan?” was surprising to me.
Is it just this one kid who’s surprisingly woke? I don’t think so.
I think this is an indication of bettering education. Kids are being exposed to these different things, these formerly unknown and taboo things, and it’s making them more easily understanding.
Nico in the kid’s book series Heroes of Olympus admits his attraction to Percy Jackson in the third novel. Two lady gems on Steven Universe are a couple. Korra and Asami on Legend of Korra end the entire series holding hands and staring romantically into each others’ eyes. That’s all subtext but it’s opening kids up to non-hetero pairings and possibilities pretty early.
And then there’s this amazing scene from the CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
But these are all things we’re familiar with, right? Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual are the first three letters in the initialism, obviously they’re the best known. But then there’s this other thing.
The comic book character, Deadpool, (who is incidentally not for kids, but bear with me) is actually canonically pansexual in the comics. And kind of in the movie. (Not textually, in the movie he never says pansexual, but it’s in subtext.) That’s a main stream figure in media who is openly a sexual orientation that’s very not mainstream. So that means kids (teenagers, whatever) are going to look into it so they can understand their fave Merc with a Mouth. And they’re learning about different LGBTQIA+ identities. And it’s awesome.
He probably didn’t even think anything of it, the kid who said that to me. But I’m grateful to him. Because how cool is that? That we have a new generation of kids who we won’t need to spend fifteen minutes explaining ourselves to in the future. They’ll just know.
You’re right, Bobby D, these times are a changin’.