In what is believed to be a first for any UK Parliamentarian, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has come out as pansexual.
Speaking to PinkNews, Moran, who is the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, also revealed that she is in a same-sex relationship with a woman.
The rumoured Lib Dem leadership candidate says that she started dating former Lib Dem press officer Rosy Cobb "about six months ago", which "was quite surprising, because before that I’d only ever had boyfriends."
Moran now identifies as pansexual.
Pansexuality, to me, means it doesn’t matter about the physical attributions of the person you fall in love with, it’s about the person themselves.
She says that she has chosen to speak publicly about her sexuality now because "as an MP I spend a lot of my time defending our community and talking about our community. I want people to know I am part of our community as well."
And although Moran says her family and friends have been supportive of her coming out, the wider reaction has not always been as positive:
I was quite shocked, actually. There were a few people who said, ‘How serious is this?’ And some people even overtly said, ‘Don’t you think it would be better for your career if you weren’t together?’
Speaking about the discrimination faced by LGBT people when coming out, Josh Bradlow, Head of Policy at the LGBT charity Stonewall said:
We're still not living in a society where every LGBT person is free to be themselves, so having out and proud role models sends a powerful message and helps LGBT people know they have a place in the world.
It’s important we remember that coming out must always be a personal decision. No one should ever feel pressured to come out because speculating about people’s identity is not how we create an environment where everyone feels comfortable being open about who they are.
Representation of LGBT people in positions of political power is extremely important, which is why it’s great Layla is the first openly pansexual MP.
But what is pansexuality?
Put simply, someone who identifies as "pansexual" is attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender identity.
This is different to "bisexual", although definitions of the term are expanding quickly. While "bisexuality" has historically been thought to describe sexual attraction to "men" and "women" – and therefore exclude anyone who doesn't fit those descriptors – others have argued that it can describe someone who is attracted to someone who shares their gender identity, and someone that doesn't.
"Pansexuality", on the other hand, explicitly incorporates attraction to non-binary people. It's essentially a catch-all term, though critics of the "pansexual" label have warned that it could contribute to the erasure of bisexual identities and uphold biphobia.
On the other hand, there are commentators who feel that "bisexual" as a term is too exclusive and should be broadened out to incorporate those that identify as non-binary or gender non-conforming.
Speaking about her pansexual status, Moran herself says:
It doesn’t if they’re a man or a woman or gender non-conforming, it doesn’t matter if they identify as gay or not. In the end, these are all things that don’t matter – the thing that matters is the person, and that you love the person.