Who Adopts Queer and Pansexual Sexual Identities?

J Sex Res. 2017 Sep;54(7):911-922. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1249332. Epub 2016 Dec 2.


Some nonheterosexual individuals are eschewing lesbian/gay and bisexual identities for queer and pansexual identities. The present study aimed to examine the sexual and demographic characteristics of nonheterosexual individuals who adopt these labels. A convenience sample of 2,220 nonheterosexual (1,459 lesbian/gay, 413 bisexual, 168 queer, 146 pansexual, and 34 other "write-in") individuals were recruited for a cross-sectional online survey. In support of our hypotheses, those adopting pansexual identities were younger than those adopting lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities, and those adopting queer and pansexual identities were more likely to be noncisgender than cisgender, and more likely to be cisgender women than men. The majority of pansexual individuals demonstrated sexual orientation indices within the bisexual range, and showed equivalent patterns of sexual attraction, romantic attraction, sexual behavior, and partner gender as bisexual-identified men and women. In contrast, three-quarters of queer men, and more than half of queer women, reported sexual attraction in the homosexual range. This study found that rather than a general movement toward nontraditional sexual identities, queer and pansexual identities appear most appealing to nonheterosexual women and noncisgender individuals. These findings contribute important information regarding who adopts queer and pansexual identities in contemporary sexual minority populations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*