By Alex Temblador
Sexual orientation is not as simple as boy likes girl or girl likes girl. Rather there are a large variety of sexual orientations that many are not aware of which is why Democratic House Representative Mary Gonzalez of Texas is so important for the United States. As the first openly pansexual legislator of the United States, Gonzalez brings to the spotlight the diversity of sexual orientation, a step that can only have positive effects for the public and for politics.
The first question that may come to mind when speaking about Mary Gonzalez is what exactly does pansexual mean? Like heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual, pansexual is a sexual orientation. Pansexuality is a sexual orientation that reflects someone who is attracted to others regardless of their gender identity or biological sex. For instance, pansexuals may be attracted to the same-sex, opposite sex and/or those that identify as transgender, transsexual, intersex, or genderqueer.
Mary Gonzalez came out as pansexual after she was elected in 2012. Other notable pansexuals are YouTube personality Laci Green and rapper Angel Haze. Although there are other celebrities that are sometimes labeled as pansexual, there are not many celebrities that have personally identified consistently as pansexual. Yet, having a politician like Gonzalez that identifies as pansexual brings the conversation of sexuality to a very significant part of the American way of life, government.
Mary Gonzalez is no stranger to being a minority. As a Latina and a woman, Gonzalez was already a minority in politics even before she announced her sexual identity. However, neither her ethnicity, gender, nor her sexual identity has stopped her from helping others through her position in government. Unfortunately, her openness about being pansexual brought about misunderstanding. Originally, the media labeled Mary Gonzalez as lesbian “as opposed to having a more complex understanding of our sexual community.” Although pansexuality may be a fairly new term, it should not be confused or diminished by the public or the media because it is not understood well by the mainstream. Gonzalez stated that by opening up about her sexuality it allows people to have conversations about gender diversity and the transgender community which could hopefully educate more people about the complexities of sexual identity.
Not only does being open about her pansexual identity allow for conversation in the public sphere, but Gonzalez’s pansexuality has and will foster discussions in politics. As a legislator in a historically conservative state such as Texas with a history of anti-LGBT legislation, Gonzalez being open about who she is will bring forward LGBT, sexuality, and gender identity issues in government. Similarly, by working in the government, her colleagues will be in contact with someone from the LGBT community, a situation that could foster understanding and acceptance from the lawmakers that have significant power in making laws that affect the LGBT community. More importantly, with Gonzalez being open about her sexual identity, perhaps it will encourage others in politics to be open about their sexuality or encourage other LGBT persons to run for political offices so they too can make a change.
Lastly, by being open about her pansexuality, Mary Gonzalez believes she can make a change in our world: “I think one of the best ways to combat homophobia and heterosexism is to use your own story as a tool for justice.”
We look forward to seeing how Mary Gonzalez’s story brings justice and change in the United States for the LGBT community.