Hidden side to life for pansexual

TIM* identifies as a pansexual, meaning he's gender blind.

"If they're a genuinely attractive person and are really nice, does it matter what genitals they have or whether they wear dresses or not?" he said.

The Gladstone 20-something asked to remain completely anonymous.

His family have no idea about his sexuality. He has no plans to tell them.

"My dad would probably just not talk about it.

"I think he still uses the word 'poofter' to refer to gay people."

Tim reckons his mum would research the subject endlessly. "I'm honestly not sure which reaction I'd fear most," he laughed.

There is absolutely no way he would be out and open in Gladstone.

"Good grief, no," he said.

* Not his real name


Interview transcript:

So how long have you lived in Gladstone?
I only moved here about 2 and a half years ago. I preferred the place I moved from personally. It meant leaving a lot of friends there, coming here. I can only stay in touch with them over Facebook and sites like that.

Where did you move from? Was it regional like Gladstone? And why did you prefer it?
I moved from suburbia in a larger metropolitan area. I preferred it because well...for one, the movies cost like $7 a head, and it's nearly triple that in Gladstone. But anyway, there was also a lot more entertainment and places to shop or spend the day. It was a lot more convenient to get to as well. I'm a little bit of a trading card game nerd, and there were shops which were good for that hobby near where I lived, but not here.

Did you move here for work?
I was applying for work back home, but didn't get an interview anywhere; my family decided to move out here because they'd always wanted to. I wasn't financially independent enough to stay behind. I got an interview in Gladstone at the first placed I applied for.

Do you identify as gay?
Not "gay", I identify as either bisexual or pansexual. Pansexuality is sexual attraction experienced for others regardless of gender or sex. Bisexual means you could be attracted to 2 genders. Pansexual means you could be attracted to anyone regardless of their gender. I'm not sure how best to explain it.

Are you out and open about your sexuality?
I only became self-aware I was bisexual/pansexual after moving here. I had made some friends here already through work; I was out about it to them, after telling some of my friends from back home over Facebook. I am not open about it to my family.

Would you ever feel comfortable being out and open in Gladstone in particular? From what I understand it's perceived to be quite a homophobic town.
Good grief, no. I was a little more open about it at work, but then I found out that homophobic remarks were being said about me behind my back... so I stopped being 'open' about it.

What sort of remarks?
I wasn't clear on exact words being used, but I know it was a source of humour. It was a joke, and some people were laughing about it. That is a truth-fact. Some of the people closer to my age group weren't homophobic so much, and they had no idea it was being said. But I have seen homophobia from a lot of the people younger than me at work, so I don't think it's a generation gap thing.

Would you have been more comfortable coming out back home?
I think so; I still wouldn't tell my family, but I think it would be easier, I wouldn't have to worry about people's reactions as much as I do here. At the moment, I'm only coming out to people AFTER I'm convinced they know me well enough.

Why do you think it would be different in a more metro area? Do you think you'd get a similar reaction in any regional town or is it something specifically about Gladstone?
It probably would be something about regional towns. I don't know whether you could put it down to smaller populations being somewhat more conservative? I have never lived in any other regional town, so I wouldn't know from experience. That said, I've never heard of a "Gay Pride Week" or anything being held in a smaller regional town.

Do you know of any gay groups/support services in Gladstone or Central Queensland?
I don't know of any, no.

Would you ever come out to your parents?
If it was totally absolutely 100% necessary, I suppose I would... say if I was marrying a man (still waiting on that to be legal) and they heard I was getting married and wanted to come to the wedding, then I suppose they'd need to be told. But if I had the option, no. Straight people don't need to sit down with their folks and say "Mum, Dad... I'm straight!" ... I hate that double standard that only LGBT's need to deal with that conversation.

Do you think your parents would be upset though? Or would they handle it well?
My dad would probably just not talk about it. He's not exactly progressive in that area. I think he still uses the term "poofter" to refer to gay people. I think he'd probably clam up and start talking about the weather or something.
My mum would probably take it better, but she'd try and make a whole THING out of it and try and get a bunch of books on the subject and talk of nothing else. I'm honestly not sure which reaction I'd fear most, haha.
Yes, I still live with my dad and brother, my mum is living elsewhere at the moment.

Have you told your brother?
No... I've brought up the subject of gay rights and stuff when it's on the news, or on a YouTube video or something with him, but he's not exactly enlightened on the issue. I don't think he 'gets' what gay actually means, really, but I know he wouldn't hate/reject me for it.

You said you only realised your sexuality when you moved here. What was it that really made you realise you weren't straight?
Well I wasn't exactly educated on the subject of sexuality. After a little research online I found a lot of interesting websites and information. It really was interesting to read and learn about. Eventually I came to identify as bisexual (I've sort of stopped using that label as of late because of stupid things people assume.)

What sort of things?
Well, for example I knew this one girl who asked if I was 50/50 attraction-wise. When I said no, she replied "70/30?" This was weird because I didn't think you could measure who you found attractive. 

So I guess for you it's more about the person than the gender? Would that be fair to say?
Definitely. If they're a genuinely attractive person and are really nice, does it matter what genitals they have, or whether they wear dresses or not? No. I did briefly date a girl I met at work who was really nice; this ended because of conflicting schedules and stuff... sort of just 'fizzled out'.
I have not met any openly gay/bisexual guys in Gladstone..... though if I did, I doubt they'd be my type.

What do you mean exactly? What's your type?
Well that's all personal preference, I guess. I did a search on a dating website a while back (can't remember which one) just to see the results of those seeking male partners who were male themselves. It returned ONE result in a about a 300km radius. And the guy wasn't even a match for me, based on his profile. I'm sure they exist, but being open about it on a dating website is probably not the first thing they'd do. Well I haven't even signed up for one myself, probably for the same reasons nobody else has.

I'm really sorry to be so unbelievably forward...but have you had sex before with a man or a woman?
Fair question. No, I haven't. I didn't think I was ready really early on, but I know that sex isn't something you HAVE to do; it'll happen when it happens...

Have you thought about whether you'd lose your virginity to a man or a woman? Or is it just something that'll happen when it happens?
No, I haven't thought about that... If you make a 'plan' for it, you'll only limit yourself, really. I'm sure dating will get much easier when I move back home with friends, who know I'm bi/pansexual.

Is that the plan? To move back home?
Eventually. I have some friends who are at the stage where they're ready to find their own place, so I know I have options.

Do you think you'll find life easier down there?
Yeah, this town's okay. Never felt like 'home' though.

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