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Submitted on
December 9, 2011


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On The Subject of Labels

Fri Dec 9, 2011, 2:06 AM
One of the recurring comments given in my previous journal was "Why do we need to label ourselves at all?", or words to that effect. There are many of you who believe NO-ONE needs a label.

I both agree and disagree.

I agree, because I think you're right that we don't need to define to ourselves what we are by putting a label on it. I shouldn't say to myself "I'm gay. Therefore, I only am attracted to women."  I think that if, in your head, you have a defined, labelled view of what you are, you start conforming yourself around that label. I'm sure many of you have heard stories of men and women who came out, then later admitted to feeling pressured into staying gay because they'd defined themselves as such to so many people. Conforming yourself around a social definition like that cannot be healthy.

But at the same time, I disagree against the idea that we don't need labels in this world at all. We do need them... we just don't need to place extensive meaning in them. They should be used as a face-value, descriptive term only.

Without labels, I could tell you the following about me:
"Hi, I'm Kelly. I'm a person of a certain age from the United Kingdom. I'm in a relationship with another person from the United Kingdom. I have hobbies."

With labels, however, you get a much better, base view of who I am:
"Hi, I'm Kelly. I'm an over-21 white British female. I'm in a same-sex relationship with another white British female. I'm also a cosplayer."

What I wrote in the second example is not there to set a definition for me, or rope me to any particular social standing or group. It exists purely to help others get a better initial view of who and what I am. We give ourselves labels not to put ourselves into the same area as people with matching labels, but to help others with their initial comprehensions of who we are. A wise person would look at those labels, take them in, but also understand that there is more to who you are than the words you place upon yourself.

I use the term "lesbian" not as a rule, but as a base, descriptive term. It helps people get an initial understanding of a facet of my being: I'm not interested in men. Adding the 'in a relationship' term then furthers that to explain another facet of who I am: I'm with someone, and I'm not interested in anyone else.

It's a very base description, and it's flawed, but it gives the bare-bones outline of my love-life and sexuality, for those I wish to know that information. I could, of course, go into more accurate detail of "I'm in a same-sex relationship, but I don't view myself strictly as a lesbian, as I only have attraction to a single person, and honestly believe that if I'd met that same person in a male body, I'd still be attracted to them."

... If someone introduced themselves to me that way, even after having known them for a short while, I'd be rather... flummoxed! Sometimes, it's easier to simplify. If you then want to clarify further, or if someone wants to get to know you better than just on basic labels, then that option is there, and that tends to be the route where friendships are forged as people get to know the true person behind the public labels.

So no, we do not need labels to define who or what we are.
But we do have a use for labels, in helping to create that initial view of what we may be.

Without labels, you'd all be glass-skinned, genderless, cultureless, emotionless blobs to me! I'm happy to know that those who follow me are male, female, trans, gay, straight, bi, pan, old, young, black, white, religious, atheist... even if those labels aren't entirely accurate to who you really are.

</end more ramblings of an ill person>

If any quotes, thoughts, or words in the responses to this or my previous journal grab my interest, I'll add them here :)

- 'Love is my sexuality'
- "I've tossed around my sexuality for many years and could only come up with one true answer; Homoflexible."
-  "I identify as a straight male, but then I fell for one of my guy friends. ... So if people can't handle that I'm a straight guy in a gay relationship then fuck them"
- " 'Onesexual' is an interesting concept. When I was with my last ex, whom was with me five years, I was genuinely onesexual for her. I found no other women attractive. It's been six months since I was dumped and I'm still having a very hard time finding anyone attractive. So in that vein, becoming onesexual can be a bit of a curse, meh... but at the same time, I've heard that being able to feel that way about someone is a rare gift, so even if I lost her, I'm happy to know I have the capability."
- "Love doesn't need a label. All that really matters is that you're happy."
- "In the eyes of others, I'm a lesbian, or maybe a bisexual, but in my eyes, I'm Alexandrasexual~"

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katieandbecci Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I have thought about it and have finally thought of a label to suit me... Nonsexual. I'm not going to give my self a proper label until I know for sure, I just think that why label yourself one way when it could easily change in the future or maybe not! I told my friends and now they suddenly think I'm bisexual and what have you but I'm not - not necessarily. I'm in a opposite sex relationship of nearly 2 years and have only dated boys but like I've said that's not to say it won't all change as I get older. So as I have said I'm not gonna label myself as Gay, Straight or Bisexual because I don't know if I'll be that way forever so I am sticking with this one- Nonsexual.
HoshisamaValmor Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011
this is a subject I am interested in, but when applied to me... I quite honestly do not know what 'label' or 'category' to put myself in. I used to like to think of myself as bisexual female, since I have absolutely nothing against hetero and/or homosexual relationships, or any other sexual relationship. I do consider people should love whomever they want, and that others have nothing to do with it. And I get quite frustrated around people who are extremely close minded regarding that.

However, I believe that was an optimistical view of myself. In reality, I can find a person from both genders attractive, but I simply do not feel sexual interested in any of them. I've never been into a relationship, so I don't even know. I do believe that, if I had to find a realistical label for myself, that would be asexual.

Thanks for bringing up this type of subjects and brainstorming, I think it's important for some people.
eregelu Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Is it sad that I'm tearing up over all of this? As one of those comments you picked out said, being 'onesexual' can definitely be a curse.
I am a bigender teenager who fell in love with his(today, at least, I'm male) FtM best friend. I'm usually male around him, but I don't really consider that 'gay', because when I'm around him I'm not thinking 'oh, he's male', nor do I look at anyone else when he's around. I've had two girlfriends before, and was mostly female around them. I think it's just me trying to match their intellect and emotional perceptions with my own, not that I am innately homosexual; it is easier to identify on an emotional level with someone of the same gender. But back to the best friend; he's in love with our other friend, who loves him back. They're together now, and he keeps urging me to fall in love with someone else, but that's difficult when you're 'onesexual', when you can only look at one person. He cares enough about me that he says he'll break it off with her if it's hurting me too much, but that just raises the problem of him not being as happy as he could be, which is what I want. Now, then, you have the problem of situational conduct, which in my mind is also very fluid, because there are always a million options that go along with any one thing, and it's hard to successfully label them all, but you need to to make sense of anything. He and I play 'fact' games, where we list everything we can about our situation; 'I love him', 'He loves her', 'She blames herself for all this hurting, so do I, so does he'. Labeling is our way of coping, lately. Labeling situations, but not ourselves. She refuses labels, I embrace them only for confusion's sake (being bigender can be a little confusing without labeling yourself as male or female) but label only gender to keep myself happy, he tends to reject all labels, except that he is male and he wants everyone to understand this. So perhaps the best situation is a mix of fluid and labels?
GABLE-CAT Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011
its refreshing to hear all of this, from some-one older, wiser and more mature than me, but still going through a similar situation. Thank-you
nightshadowfall Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011
The quotes are lovely
Beansproutte Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011
I have a quick question. Do you mind if I use content from these last two journals at a Gay Straight Alliance meeting at my school? I know that a lot of people there would really appreciate it and I was really inspired by what you had to say on the subject of labels and sexuality.
KellyJane Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Sure! Go right on ahead :)
Beansproutte Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2011
Thanks! :)
KN101 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Dear Kelly,
Hi, my name is Kristina and I am a 16 year old female, and yea, I am Bisexual. I am very confident in that, as I have been since I was 13. I really love the fact that you decided to write about Sexuality. It is a subject that so many people shy away from and I think it needs to get more out in the open. Just yesterday one of my guy friends told me that he might be gay. And while I was excited, because seriously, who doesn't want a gay friend? I thought about how hard it must have been to tell me, and I remembered my experience when I told my friends and family that I was Bi. I agonized over it for weeks and when I finally did end up telling my parents, my mom was cool with it, but only because she's Bi too, and my dad was like, whatever. My friends...well that was harder. I gathered them all together at once and told them, a few of them left and I haven't spoken to them since, and you know what? If they don't care for me, ALL of me, then why was I friends with the in the first place? Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to you because it is really hard to talk about sexuality, especially with all of the controversy about it.
TearaSuzuki Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2011
I remember being in school (an all female college, mind you) and telling my very openly gay friend (who had just finished telling the table when she figured out she was gay) that I'm straight, but that I found women attractive in an artistic way. Being female, I very much enjoy knowing my body as well as the female body in general, how it looks and how it feels. My friend's reply to this was "so did I!" This shocked me and sent me into a possibly frightened state of confusion, not because I thought that I might be gay, but because of the possibility that maybe I didn't actually know my sexual orientation. I had always figured I was straight and being hit with someone telling me that maybe I wasn't was very confusing. I spent the next few years of my life ironing this out. I haven't thought of a specific label yet, but I'm straight, I find men very sexually attractive, although I know my appreciation for the female well enough that if I ever found a woman that was drop dead gorgeous and that reached me, I could easily love one. Men just take priority. ^^
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