There are so many people (i.e., celebrities, cause I mean, who else matters?) that are refusing to adhere to labels. They’re “whatever”, meaning they are essentially sexually fluid. Maria Bello, Miley Cyrus, Kristen Stewart, and I’m sure with each celebrity there are hundreds of people in the “real world” that now feel like they’re able to better enunciate what their sexual identity means to them, because someone they know is speaking up about theirs. Sometimes it’s super confusing, especially to young people that haven’t accumulated enough baggage to figure themselves out enough to the satisfaction of those around them. They get to see these famous people and say “oh wow, actually, that’s how I feel! I’m not alone! I don’t have to have a single thing that defines me, because that single thing doesn’t exist for the famous people either!”
Those kids get to heave a big sigh of relief. Because up until now, they’ve been asked ad nauseum “but what KIND of queer are you?” What people want to know is “what box can I put you into so that I can better understand you?” We are humans. We LOVE labels. We find a new species of animal, what’s the first thing we do? Label it. “Oh well it’s kind of a lizard, so it goes here, but it has these kinds of teeth, so that means it is part of this family-genus-species.” We don’t feel complete until we can figure out how exactly something or someone fits into this world. So we make these labels, and we assign to them characteristics that we decide are representative of the archetype for that label.
But I think we really need to be careful about how we do this. To others in the LGBTQIA community, in particular. Because what are we doing when we are asking Kristen Stewart “ok, but ARE YOU A LESBIAN OR NOT?!?” We are asking her to tell us exactly what kind of people she could ever have sex with. “Would you sleep with a woman? A man? What’s your ratio? Are you more emotionally drawn to men or women? How about in bed? Who gives you more orgasms? Are you pansexual? Would you sleep with a transgender male? How about a transgender female? If so are you a lesbian still?” Aren’t these the exact questions we get so annoyed at when straight people ask us the same thing?
I do get why labels exist. I completely understand why it is so necessary to have solidarity in a movement that has continuously worked so hard to get me to the point where I can walk with my wife down the street, holding hands, kiss her goodbye, like any other couple, without getting accosted in my neighborhood. A big part of that fight has been to stand together with a lot of other people and say “we are lesbians and we matter.” I am standing on your shoulders, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart parts. Yes, I do recognize so many places in the U.S. (and rest of the world) still can’t do any of the things I described, and I am so sorry about that. There is still so much work to be done!
But I also think we need to be able to celebrate the progress that has been won from this struggle. And part of that is moving towards a time when people don’t feel like they need to label what they are, because it honestly doesn’t matter who they sleep with. That is my dream for tomorrow: a world where people couldn’t care less the gender/sexuality of another person. I love seeing snippets of that world, and I do very much hope I see more of it. That doesn’t mean it disregards the past struggles; we only exist because of those. It just means the struggle is WORKING.
So I ask you, is there a defined finish line that exists where we can all stand together and decide “ok, now this is how we will proceed as a community of not-100%-heterosexual humans”? If so, who decides where/when that finish line is? If we can’t define this finish line, can we give younger generations a hard time when they don’t conform to the labels we have made for them, because we decided they haven’t paid the dues required to define themselves? I eagerly await the time when such a definition doesn’t matter to the rest of the population, and that includes us gays.