Some people think that "bisexual" emphasizes too much on gender polarity (meanwhile, some who are attracted strictly to masculine men and feminine women say it is appropriate for them). Pansexual and omnisexual I think mean the same thing: attracted to any type of person, or gender not mattering in who they love. "Queer" has also become a catch-all phrase, too. And I think there are even more descriptive words: I have heard "pomosexual" which might mean "post-sexual orientation" and other words.
I feel a little presumptuous calling myself queer, and with pansexual I don't know if some people will interpret that as "will sleep with anyone". I just stick with bisexual. I am attracted to both men and women, and people in between and at all levels of masculine and feminine, but I do want both males and females in my life.
On "will sleep with anyone" / "will sleep with anything that moves"...
There was a bisexual magazine, Anything That Moves, whose editors explained its name as turning the old stereotype on its head, into a benign tautology: we're attracted to anything that moves us.
What do people think about all the different labels? Are they divisive at all or contributing to "bisexual invisibility"? I mean some people actually will say "I'm not bisexual, I'm--" But then, some words are more descriptive for some people and people should use whatever description they like. Not like I would argue passionately either way, though--it's about like "should bisexuals try to be part of the gay community or form their own separate community?"
I'd say yes and yes. We have our own specific concerns, and we share the wider LGBTQI* community's concern about being able to live and love as who we are, without being forced into "straight and narrow" boxes.
The difference is primarily in the age of the person who uses the label. There is no technical difference between bi/pan/omni, we'll all still fuck anyone we want to no matter what their gender or gender identity may be. When I came out as bi, the words "pan" and "omni" had not yet been created, and like most bisexuals, mine is an "anything that moves" style of affectional and sexual orientation. Being bi NEVER meant "excluding transgender" until the 21st century when young people tried to carve out a new bi identity, calling it "pansexual" and "omnisexual" which in many cases has included fabricating hateful biphobic and transphobic concepts behind their new words.
Bisexuality is defined as an attraction to both the same and other genders. So is pansexuality, so is omnisexuality. Some people refuse all of these labels and stick with "fluid" or just "queer."
But really, the only difference is the age of the person. Bis over age 40 usually call themselves bi, bis in the mid20s-late30s may go with bi or pan, and very young people may use omni. But all three words mean the exact same thing and have the exact same results: the person who id's as bi/pan/omni is open to romantic and/or sexual partners of any gender.
My own data point would agree: I'm over 40, call myself bi, and see my orientation as "anyone that moves me"
"Labels make useful servants but terrible masters."
And I get that "pan" and "omni" can be assertions that "we're not about a gender binary" as some interpretations of "bisexual" have suggested. (Michael Page, discussing his bi pride flag design, referred to sexual attraction to "the same" / "opposite" / "both sexes".) Many of us who identify as bisexual think of the "two" as, rather, one's own gender and other genders, as you mentioned.
I wonder how people who identify specifically as pan/omni/fluid/etc. relate to usage such as the Bisexual Resource Center's talking about the "Bi+ community", in an attempt to be inclusive.
(And then people can use "polysexual" to mean attracted to "multiple, but not all, genders.")
It's important for me to identify as bisexual. I feel that we as bisexuals have been looked down upon and marginalized enough, and it's time to be loud and proud!