Polysexuality is the sexual attraction to various, but not necessarily all, genders. A polysexual person may experience sexual attraction to any number of genders, varying between (at least) two and many. Polysexual individuals may have a preference when it comes to which gender they are attracted to, but this is not necessarily the case.
The word "polysexual" comes from the Greek prefix polus, meaning "many". Another Greek prefix, polloi, meaning "much," may also have had an influence.
The term "polysexual" first appeared in the late 1920s. Before it gained traction as a recognized sexuality, it was used in the context of polyamory, which is the practice or desire of (being open to) having more than one romantic, sexual, or queerplatonic relationship occur simultaneously. As the term became established and widely recognized in the last few decades, that conflation became outdated as polysexuals are now understood to be entirely distinct from practitioners of non-monogamy/monoamory.
The polysexual flag consists of three differently colored stripes. The first being pink, representing attraction to women, and the second being green, representing attraction to non-binary (or otherwise gender non-conforming) people. The bottom blue stripe represents attraction to men. It was designed by Tumblr user fuckyeahpolysexuality in 2012.
Though attracted to several genders, polysexual people do not necessarily experience attraction to all genders. Pansexual people, however, do. Another notable difference between the two identities is that pansexuals are typically attracted to people regardless of their gender, while gender often does play a significant role when it comes to a polysexual person's attraction to someone.
While some consider the terms bisexual and polysexual as one and the same, others feel that having the distinction of the two identities is important. Having the term "polysexual" generally allows people to have a more accurate word to describe what their sexual attraction feels like. This is because bisexuality is often wrongly associated with the binary genders, male and female, while this is not necessarily the case for polysexuals. However, it is important to recognize that this does not mean that people who identify as bisexual are fixated on traditional notions of gender.
Omnisexuality and polysexuality are similar in that they both describe sexual attraction to multiple genders, often with gender playing a factor in that attraction. Polysexual people, however, do not necessarily experience attraction to all genders, while omnisexual people do.
Polysexuality and polyamory are not intertwined with one another, as being attracted to many genders does not necessarily mean that one wants to practice non-monogamy/monoamory. It should be noted that a polysexual person could still identify as polyamorous, but the two are not in any way linked to each other.
Perceptions and Discrimination
People may wrongly accuse polysexual people of "being attracted to everyone" or that they "just can't make up their mind about their sexuality". This is harmful, as it invalidates a polysexual person's feelings and experiences.
There are also the assumptions people make about a person's sexuality based on the relationship they are currently in. If a polysexual man is dating a woman, people might assume they are straight. However, this is not inherently the case. These are also common assumptions when it comes to bisexuality and/or pansexuality.
There is limited to no media representation when it comes to polysexuality.
- Hardell, Ash. The Gay BC's of LGBT+: An Accompaniment to The ABC's of LGBT+. Mango Media Inc., 2017-11-09. (web archive)