What it means to be pansexual

Story highlights

  • Pansexual refers to sexual attraction without specific labels
  • Scholars say the term appeals to a younger generation that dislikes labels

This story was originally published on CNN.com in 2015. It has been updated to reflect a more accurate definition of bisexuality and its relationship to pansexuality.

(CNN)The concept of pansexuality has been around since the days of Sigmund Freud, but it took a shout-out from Miley Cyrus to bring it back into vogue for the 21st century.

The word has been among Google's top search terms since the pop star declared herself pansexual in an interview with Paper magazine in July.
As she put it, "I am literally open to every single thing that is consenting and doesn't involve an animal and everyone is of age. Everything that's legal, I'm down with. Yo, I'm down with any adult -- anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me. I don't relate to being boy or girl, and I don't have to have my partner relate to boy or girl."
    Scholars and sociologists say Cyrus' description sums up the contemporary interpretation of pansexual, sometimes called omnisexual. It's about as broad as it gets when it comes to describing who you're sexually attracted to, which is why it appeals to a younger generation that's comfortable with gender and sexual fluidity and doesn't care much for specific labels.
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