The Disparity of Labels and Lived Reality

So this is going around tumblr and I love it. I had to add to it, though, because there are some things needing mentioning.

Labels and Lived Reality

Likewise, if you’re straight and you fall for a person of the same gender, that’s fine, too. Why limit yourself? Why identify more with a label than with your own feelings?

The thing here to remember is that labels of sexual identities are more about political statements than actual lived reality. This is how you can have lesbians who fuck guys for fun and still happily identify as lesbian. This is how you can have straight guys clandestinely pitching or catching and still ID as straight.

This is how you can have bisexual people identifying as either lesbian/gay or straight.

It’s a matter of social politics.

And what makes it political is our relationship with fear.


What I’d also like to add to that is this:

This relationship with fear means we either stay in the closet (i.e. continue to identify with a label that does not match how we live our lives, regardless of the label) or we take a stand out in the open. Whatever statement we make or whatever lack of statement we make really does make a difference with regard to visibility or invisibility. Visibility of who we truly are or invisibility of who we truly are.

The thing to remember though, is that the best thing to do is what you feel is best for you. If that means (eventually) stepping out of your comfort zone, then so be it. If that means staying right where you are because you don’t feel remotely safe stepping out of your comfort zone, then so be it. Part of moving from tolerance to acceptance is learning to accept that people will do what they will do, and it’s none of our business to dictate to them how they should identify.

My beef is when people believe they can’t love a particular person because they’re too tied up in how they feel safest identifying. They’re letting their assumed, politicized identity dictate who they’re allowed to have romantic or sexual feelings for, and that, my friends, is a very fast track to some seriously self-denying negativity. And self-denial on that level is a serious threat to your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. When you deny yourself, long-term, you literally weaken your immune system. The health of your physical body is thrown out of balance. There’s a lot more here about this very thing, even, in part, with respect to living a closeted life.

Part of moving from tolerance to acceptance is learning to accept yourself as you are and love yourself, believe yourself worthy of that love, regardless of who you love or what gender they are. Some of us can do this, some of us can’t yet. Many of us are struggling in the space between. And it’s all ok. I say this as a queer woman who would very much love for everyone to feel safe enough to be who they are and to freely love whomever they love. I say this as someone who would also very much like for trans*, pansexual, and bisexual people to be more visible. And I say this with the deep understanding that we all have our own path to walk and that it is not up to me to determine whether it is time for a person to own up to who they are and come out with a label that completely matches their lived reality. It really is all ok.

Be kind to others.
Be kind to yourself.