For starters, let's have a quick lil vocab refresher: The term “omni” is literally a root term for “all.” So, people who identify as omnisexual can find themselves attracted to all people, no matter their gender.
But that isn’t to say that people who identify as omnisexual are blind to noticing gender in general. “Omni essentially says 'I’m not gender blind, I see it,'” says Courtney D’Allaird, assistant director of Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at the University of Albany. “It's 'I’m attracted sexually to people, and when I am with someone, their gender matters. I see it, but it is not WHY I am attracted—and it’s not a factor WHEN I am attracted to them.”'
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OMNISEXUAL, PANSEXUAL, OMNIROMANTIC, AND DEMISEXUAL
The concept of omnisexuality most closely “parallels” that of pansexuality, according to D’Allaird. The only major difference is that, as we said above, omnisexual people do see gender, while D’Allaird says pansexual is “often defined as being ‘gender blind.”
Omniromantic and omnisexual operate on different spectrums. While omniromantic is a term used to define who a person is sexually attracted to, omniromantic defines a person’s romantic preferences. The two are also not mutually exclusive — a person can define themselves as both omniromantic and omnisexual.
Similarly, omnisexual and demisexual are describing two totally different concepts. While omnisexual is a term used to define who you feel a sexual drive for, D’Allaird explains demisexual is a term used to describe “how and when you experience a sexual drive.”
WHAT IDENTIFYING AS OMNISEXUAL LOOKS LIKE
There is no one way for identifying as omnisexual to look. “Identifying as such looks like feeling great about yourself and standing strong in your identity,” says D’Allaird. “No one can really tell you who you are, if you find this word and it really connects for you, then look in the mirror.”
Another important thing to note is that, because people are less aware of this term, representation is less present in our mainstream culture. Or, more likely, there isn’t enough representation in our mainstream culture and, as a result, awareness surrounding the term remains low.
HOW TO SUPPORT FRIENDS OR PARTNERS WHO IDENTIFY AS OMNISEXUAL
According to D’Allaird, because the term is less known, your loved ones who identify as omnisexual may find themselves dealing with “a lot of historic tropes affecting queer people.” D’Allaird says these not-cool-at-all tropes include but are not limited to:
People dismissing their identity as “not really a thing.”
People “hyper-sexualizing” them.
People being “flippant” and saying “they are attracted to inanimate objects.”
So, the first and perhaps easiest thing you can do is simply believe people when they tell you who they are, rather than trying to box them into one of the above tropes. Then, do some work on your own.
“Believe people, let them tell you what the word means to them,” instructs D’Allaird. Then: “Educate yourself and challenge your concepts of sex, gender, and sexuality.”
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