Nation’s first ‘pansexual’ elected officialTop Highlights Friday, August 10th, 2012
Mary Gonzalez, who made international headlines as “Texas’ first openly lesbian representative,” after winning her Democratic primary in May has revealed that she is not really a lesbian.
In an exclusive interview with Dallas Voice this week, Gonzalez said she identifies as “pansexual.” Pansexual is an orientation often called bisexual, except pansexuals don’t believe in a gender binary and can be attracted to all gender identities. Gonzalez said she doesn’t believe in a gender binary because “gender identity isn’t the defining part of my attraction.”
After coming out as bisexual at 21, Gonzalez said a few years later she started dating “gender-queer” and transgender people, and later identified as pan.
“As I started to recognize the gender spectrum and dated along the gender spectrum, I was searching for words that connected to that reality, for words that embraced the spectrum,” she said. “At the time I didn’t feel as if the term bisexual was encompassing of a gender spectrum that I was dating and attracted to.”
In late June, Gonzalez was featured in a Dallas Voice cover story in which she was referred to as gay, lesbian and openly LGBT, because while Gonzalez had disclosed privately that she was pansexual, she had not granted the newspaper permission to use that term.
After the article’s publication, Gonzalez informed Dallas Voice that she still didn’t embrace the term lesbian and was comfortable coming out as pansexual.
“During the campaign if I had identified as pansexual, I would have overwhelmed everyone,” she said this week, adding that people don’t know what being pan means. “Now that I’m out of the campaign, I’m completely much more able to define it.”
During her campaign Gonzalez’ sexuality was something she had to repeatedly address. Most of the media referred to her as “the Latina lesbian lawmaker” which led to some negative comments.
Gonzalez admitted that giving herself the broad label of “queer” a poor choice because of the history of the word. She then went by gay which turned into lesbian. By this point she thought it best to wait until the campaign was over before clarifying the issue.
Denis Dison, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which endorsed Gonzalez, said there are several openly bisexual politicians nationwide but none have used the term pansexual.
According to Dallas Voice Dison said, “People should inform the media and others about the term they prefer, and that sort of education is a good thing. It’s also a little more tricky in politics to be cutting edge and inform people about something they may not be familiar with.”
Gonzalez added, “I have not been secretive about my relationships with men or with women or even with transfolk. I’ve been honest about it all.”
Gonzalez said she’s not focused on how her constituents will view her sexuality now and isn’t concerned about being re-elected because she ran an authentic, honest campaign and she wants to remain open.
She told Dallas Voice, “I’ve never been concerned about getting elected or re-elected. I’ve always been concerned about serving my district and my people and the state of Texas.”
But she admits coming out to her district was a process from before and after the election, and she had to work to prove her qualifications to those who didn’t understand her being called queer or gay.
“The idea of a queer woman period freaked them out,” she said. “I had to be able to connect with my district and I couldn’t do that if I’m freaking them out every day.”
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