When Mary Gonzalez sold herself to voters in El Paso, Texas, she did so as the best candidate — not as the openly gay or Latina candidate. And now that she won the Democratic primary and is running unopposed in November, she feels comfortable making a further distinction about her sexuality.
Gonzalez told the Dallas Voice that she actually identifies as pansexual — an orientation many would call 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.”
Gonzalez’s admission makes her perhaps the only openly pansexual elected U.S. official.
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) President Herndon Graddick, said Gonzalez is courageous for making these personal parts of her life public.
“Leadership defines Representative Gonzalez’s ability to govern, not the person she loves,” Graddick says. ” Her courage to speak out is commendable at a time when visibility of diverse people in the LGBT community is low.”
Although she came out as bisexual at age 21, Gonzalez said she has also dated transgender and “gender-queer” people, in addition to women.
She explained that she didn’t “feel as if the term bisexual was encompassing of a gender spectrum that I was dating and attracted to.”
Gonzalez added that she chose not to come out as pan during the campaign because she worried she “would have overwhelmed everyone.”
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.
“People should inform the media and others about the term they prefer, and that sort of education is a good thing,” Dison said.
“It’s also a little more tricky in politics to be cutting edge and inform people about something they may not be familiar with.”