Questions & Answers

What is the difference between bisexual and terms like pansexual, polysexual, omnisexual, ambisexual, and fluid?

The term bisexual comes to us from the social sciences and describes a person with both homosexual (lit. same sex) and heterosexual (lit. different sex) attractions.  It is an open and inclusive term for many kinds of people with same-sex and different-sex attractions. Terms like pansexual, polysexual, omnisexual, and ambisexual also describe a person with homosexual and heterosexual attractions, and therefore people with those labels are also bisexual.   By replacing the prefix bi – (two, both) with pan- (all), poly- (many), omni- (all), ambi- (both, and implying ambiguity in this case), people who adopt these labels seek to clearly express the fact that gender does not factor into their own sexuality.  This does not mean, however, that people who identify as bisexual are fixated on gender.

The term fluid expresses the fact that the balance of a person’s homosexual and heterosexual attractions exists in a state of flux and changes over time.  Usually, but not always, people who describe their sexuality as fluid are bisexuals whose attractions skew very heavily towards a particular gender. The terms Heteroflexible and homoflexible add a further level of specificity, by indicating whether the bisexual person’s attractions skew almost exclusively towards same-sex or different-sex individuals.


The main difference for me is that "bisexual" is the most visible term. People may not believe me, but they understand what I'm saying. Outside of niche communities, those other terms aren't common knowledge.


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