It’s hard to feel upbeat about British politics right now. As a nation we’re completely divided, with families having spent the festive season bickering over Brexit and climate change between mouthfuls of turkey or vegan nut roast. It’s nice, then, to start the with a rare bit of joy: a proud coming out story.
In an interview with PinkNews, Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, came out as pansexual, revealing that she has been in a “really committed, loving, supportive, relationship” with another woman since last year. While it initially came as a surprise to Moran, as she’d only had boyfriends before, she described her new relationship as “wonderful”. Moran, who has yet to say if she will run for the Lib Dem leadership, opened up about meeting her partner, Rosy Cobb, through work, taking to Twitter to post a photo of the couple. (Cobb, a former Lib Dem press officer, was suspended last year over claims she faked an email.)
For those who don’t know, being pansexual means that you are attracted to other people regardless of their gender. It’s different to bisexuality, which means that a person is attracted to more than one gender, but some bisexual people do also identify as pansexual. As Moran told PinkNews: “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.” I love being a lesbian but, of all the labels, I think pansexuality is probably the loveliest.
This is a resoundingly positive moment for British politics, regardless of your views on Moran’s party (indeed, if we are to progress as a society, we must recognise that LGBT+ people hold a vast range of political beliefs). Although there are openly gay, lesbian and bisexual politicians in Westminster (but still no out transgender members), Moran, it is believed, is parliament’s first out pansexual MP. Her coming out matters, raising awareness of what it means to be pansexual.
That seems particularly necessary, as certain journalists – the kind that have only just got their heads around gays and lesbians – seem intent on spreading misinformation about pansexuality to anyone who will listen. Only last week, Rod Liddle incorrectly defined pansexuality as people who have sex “with everything” in his disturbing “politically incorrect Quiz of the Decade” in none other than The Sunday Times (are you and your fragile ego OK, Rod?). Although pansexuality has broken the celebrity world – stars like Janelle Monáe, Miley Cyrus and Joe Lycett all identify with it – it hasn’t entered Britain’s political mainstream until now. Which is why this is brilliant.
In her interview, Moran talked about the discrimination she receives being in a relationship with another woman, describing parliament as a ”weird, backwards place”. As Moran has shown, while we now have equal marriage in the UK, there is much more that needs to be done to support and protect Britain’s LGBT+ community. Indeed, in October, official data showed that transphobic and homophobic hate crimes are on the rise.
Moran’s coming out may also help to resist discrimination from within the LGBT+ community against its more marginalised sections. Too often, for example, I hear disparaging remarks from gay men and lesbians about bisexuality and pansexuality. As Moran says, she is part of the community – and deserves to be welcomed as such.
So big congratulations to Moran for falling in love – and taking pride in sharing that with the world.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies