Labels, who needs them?

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This is a Young Person’s take on being labeled or stereotyped, thank you for taking the time to write & I hope you can all take something from this. 

As a young person, labels and names that define ourselves have been prominent throughout adolescence. For me personally, I was desperate to fit myself into a box so I wouldn’t feel alone and know how to communicate my feelings to others. It seemed, at the time, so important to know where I fitted into in ‘LGBT’.

Lesbian was always a word that had negative connotations for me when I was younger. It was used –alongside ‘dyke’ – people around me would speak, with a frown, to describe any woman who embraced masculinity and by my classmates as an insult. The idea of being a ‘lesbian’ myself terrified me. It was too huge an identity to process and take on. The idea of being in the same category as the ‘queers’ who were demeaned in my household as something that took a long time to get used to and be able to be eventually proud of. So I can see why these words can be damaging and scary. Being called a ‘lesbo’ or other variations in the street has never upset or hurt me, but arguably, because when I’ve been ‘out’ in a public space, it’s been since I’ve been comfortable with my sexuality. If I had been called a ‘little dyke’ when I was thirteen, it undoubtedly would’ve crushed me.

I have been lucky enough to not have experienced homophobic bullying to any extent, but I know those that have been subject to persistent hassle and torment. My first girlfriend was subject to homophobic bullying before she was even out to herself, which hindered her coming out process greatly as well as knocking her self-confidence. Because of the negative reaction she’d had, especially at school, she described a sense of fear installed by being a lesbian. It was seen as such a bad thing. It was heart-wrenching to hear the stories of her being verbally abused on public transport for example, where someone assumed by her haircut and the way she dresses that she’s gay and therefore a ‘sinner’. The girl in her biology class who would use every opportunity to tell her how she was an abomination against nature and is going to hell. I was once told by a friend that we were a really cute couple, because, you know, she’s the ‘butch’ and I’m the ‘femme’. I was slightly put off because I don’t define as ‘femme’, or anything for that matter, and the girl I was dating had a strong aversion to all labels, and hated being confined to being anything. I like having the freedom to mix it up, be whoever I want, and dress however I want, whenever I want.

My friend who doesn’t label his sexuality at all got called queer on the way to a party just because of the t-shirt he was wearing, and was told his jumper was ‘gay’ because apparently boys can’t wear purple. It all sounds ridiculous but people label and sometimes feel the need to shout this label at us to try and assert some kind of heterosexual superiority. As much as labels can be used as insults and may be found restricting, we still use them. When describing the cute girl I asked for a light at pride, I’ll say she was butch, because it’s easier. We all succumb to stereotypes sometimes. There’s still a couple of celebrities I cannot believe are straight. And it’s great to own them if that’s what you feel comfortable with. It does make us feel like we know who we are and we own that identity. It is the idea that if you’re a lesbian you’re either a hardcore butch or a lipstick lesbian, and have to stick to that label. This needs to be eradicated.

Being gay taught me a lot of things, one of them being the value of choice. Maybe I want to get married, maybe I don’t, and it’s having the choice to marry someone of any gender that is important. It’s the same with labels, we can all define ourselves however we want, or not at all. It’s our choice. As it goes labels are, really, for jam jars.

By A young person who does not define herself by labels.

For more information and a different take on Labels have a look at the link below.

http://www.identityprojectsf.com/testimonials/

#ComingOut #Gayisokay #Lesbian #HappyOut #TheOutingProject #Gay #LGBT #Stonewall #Out #YoungPeopleOut #GayOut #ItGetsBetter #StrongerTogether

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