As more people come out on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, the language to describe these sexual orientations will keep expanding. One term popping up more often these days is omnisexual. Here’s what it means to be omnisexual, who omnisexual people are attracted to, and how to be an ally to individuals with this identity.
What does omnisexual mean?
Simply put, people who are omnisexual feel an attraction to all gender identities. “Omnisexual is classified as a ‘multisexuality,'” Debra Laino, a clinical sexologist and relationship therapist based in Delaware, tells Health. “These individuals are open and attracted to people of all genders—male, female, and every gender beyond that.” This can include expressions of gender like agender (not identifying as any particular gender) and those who are gender fluid (meaning a person’s gender identity is open to change).
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Omnisexual vs. pansexual
The key difference between omnisexuality and pansexuality is the recognition of gender, Casey Tanner, a clinical sex therapist based in Chicago, tells Health. “Most people who are pansexual are attracted to people in general regardless of gender,” Tanner explains. “Someone who is omnisexual still sees gender as part of how they are attracted to someone.”
Someone who is pansexual and an individual who is omnisexual would both say they are not attracted to a specific gender, Tanner says. “Pansexuality is more gender-blind, while with omnisexuality, gender influences the type or strength of attraction to each gender,” she adds.
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How does omnisexuality look in practice?
Omnisexual individuals can experience a wide variety of sexual attraction, from being monogamous, polyamorous, or even aromantic (aka, not capable of feeling a romantic attraction to anyone). The key element is sexual attraction to all genders, explains Tanner. People who are omnisexual can be in straight, monogamous relationships and still acknowledge their omnisexuality.
What to do if you think you’re omnisexual
While there are no official figures around how many people identify as omnisexual, finding a community of people who belong to and affirm your sexuality is important and validating, says Tanner. Browsing online communities, such as Reddit and Tumblr, can help you find others who share your orientation, or at least understand it. “This is a really expansive, wonderful identity that can absolutely be as healthy as any other identity,” they say.
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How can I be an ally to omnisexual individuals?
Tanner recommends educating yourself and being open-minded, as the language around sexual identity is constantly expanding. With more focus on sexual orientation and identity, more people will be coming out and acknowledging who they are, and they will appreciate feeling accepted.
“Just because you don’t know a term or wouldn’t use it for yourself, it doesn’t mean it isn’t equally affirming and valid for another person in your life,” says Tanner. “Instead of letting that lack of knowledge create stigma, let it fuel your curiosity to educate yourself about your identity and those in your life who use it.”
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