Kenna Cook, founder of the Pansexual Pancake Breakfast
Kenna Cook has a day job, but sex education is her passion. A health programs volunteer with the Sacramento LGBT Community Center who spends her free time helping the launch of web-based sex ed platform O.school, the poly pansexual princess (with a knack for alliteration) is also the founder of the Pansexual Pancake Breakfast, which meets the second Sunday of each month. So far, the PPB is a success, with some two dozen attending each event since its February launch. But Cook’s still cooking. She’s on a mission to raise awareness and acceptance for Sacramento’s pan and bisexual communities—one carb-loaded plate at a time.
OK, so I’m pretty sure I know what bisexual means, but let’s just clarify that from the start.
Bisexual means the opposite of monosexual. Monosexual means that you’re attracted to one gender, whether that is your own gender or the opposite gender, whereas bisexual is multisexual. You are attracted to your own gender and a gender that is not your own.
What is a pansexual and how is that different?
So, pansexuality, our catchphrase is “hearts, not parts.” So you fall in love with people regardless of whether they’re born male, born female, trans, intersex, asexual.
It sounds like a rejection of the gender binary, then.
It is. You know, a lot of bisexuals that I’ve seen online, they sort of see this interest in pansexuality as another way of erasing the bisexual identity. A lot of the times the erasure looks like, “You’re bi until you’re making a choice.” You’re gay, straight or lying. So with pan, it’s like, “Oh, you don’t want to be identified with us,” and it’s even more of an erasure of our identity.
Part of the reason I identify as pansexual vs. bisexual is because, if I told you that I have a boyfriend, you’re most likely going to assume I am just straight. If I told you I have a girlfriend, you’re probably going to assume that I am a lesbian. And if I tell you I’m bi, you’re probably going to sexually fetishize that. Whereas if I tell you I’m pan, you’re gonna have no idea what I’m talking about and then ask me and then it’ll be the conversation that I can have with you on the partners that I have; it doesn’t matter the sex or the gender or the sexuality that they are.
How often do you have to have that conversation?
Literally all the time. Pansexuality. It’s like, wait, pancakes? Or like, pan—frying pan? Yeah, I’m sexually attracted to frying pans.
That was a joke I promised my editors I wouldn’t make.
Right? Or like Peter Pan. Or like Pan, the god playing the little flute, chasing all the nymphs. So, yeah, I have to explain it all the time. But I love that because it gives me the opportunity to let someone really know who I am.
I’m told that younger people are more likely to identify as pansexual than bisexual. Is that true?
I would say yes, and I would say the reason is that we have language now. Younger people that I’ve met, also, are more often identifying as asexual, meaning that they don’t have sexual attraction to people but they may have romantic attraction, or demisexual, meaning they can only feel sexual attraction if they have a romantic connection. And those are things that we didn’t have words for 15-20 years ago.
Tell me what the Pansexual Pancake Group is all about.
I have been a health programs volunteer with the LGBT Center since 2015. [At a recent meeting they mentioned that they] don’t have, and haven’t had for a long time, a bisexual group. So I said, “Well, I have this idea: A pansexual pancake breakfast, because when I think of pansexuals I think of pancakes.” And they’re both delicious.
What are the biggest problems facing pansexuals today and what are the solutions?
I think the biggest problem is coming out and feeling supported. I know that when I came out it was a lot darker than it was in the closet. When I was in heterosexual relationships, I felt a lot of shame for my bisexuality from partners. And so that’s really scary to not have that support. The likelihood that you’re going to be in a relationship with another pan or bisexual person is not very high, just because a lot of people don’t self-identify that way. So I think that the solution is to have a community that you can go to that you know is going to accept you as you are and you don’t have to hide any aspect of your identity. A lot of the times bisexuals talk about wearing two different masks and having to float between the gay world and the straight world, but not having a bi world to exist in.