Straight, lesbian, pangender, genderfluid, these are just a few of hundreds of identity labels that are out there. I guess these labels are used to give ourselves a sense of identity, belonging & to help others understand who we are & who we love. For many LGBT+ individuals, it’s the sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people is why these labels are used daily.
I want to address something & with that I have to show the flip side of the coin. If you’ve read my blogs before, you’ll already know my views on identity labels. But for you newbies & the purpose of the blog I want to show both sides. So at the end, you can form an opinion on whether we actually do need identity labels.
Why do I hate identity labels so much!?
My annoyance stems from the very start of the whole coming out process. The fact I have to disclose who I fancy to the whole world with a label that will place me into a certain category just doesn’t sit right with me. So, when I came out as bisexual, it was questioned due to my relationship status with a girl. I then had to justify my bisexuality as people just presumed I was a lesbian.
To this day I still have to remind or justify my sexuality, 3 years down the line. All because of my relationship. But I’m nothing special, as sad as it is I’m not the only person who will have to try to justify their sexuality due to their relationship, clothing or even a haircut.
So, is labelling yourself worth all the extra baggage?
However you identify, attached to your label will be false assumptions & stereotypes. More than likely you will have to defend how you identify and try to make others understand. For me, I just want to love who I want in peace, a label really doesn’t bother me & I don’t feel the need to use labels anymore. I’m with a girl, but so what. I don’t need a label to justify my relationship to the world.
The same concept goes to gender, although I’m a cisgender woman. So, I can’t relate to the journey of understanding your gender. But what I can relate to is trying to figure out which label suits you best & in my honest opinion, just like sexuality, as long as you’re happy and doing you. Does it really matter how you identify?
I see many of us struggling & fighting with ourselves to figure out who & what we are. No one tells us that it’s okay for us not to know, it’s completely normal for us to have these internal battles to understand who we are. But, at the same time, it’s okay to not want to attach a label to who we are. If you don’t want to, then you don’t have to.
I see labels as a way of limiting ourselves to the possibilities. Gender & sexuality is so fluid, so over time, it may develop into something else. But because of our previous labelling, it’s seen as a phase & we have to argue why we never were in a phase.
Does the rest of the LGBT+ community agree with you?
So, I know sometimes my views are not shared by the majority of the community. What I feel may just be me, so it’s important in order to understand identity labels, to get a full overview from the LGBT+ community. So, as ever we reached out to the community & asked their thoughts and feelings towards identity labels and honestly, it was very eye-opening. So, if you’re interested in what the whole of the community thinks, stick around!
Would you prefer if there were no labels and we could just be whoever and love whoever?
- Yes 65%
- No 10%
- Mixed Feelings 25%
As you can see, the community is torn between how they feel. I want to look into some of the answers given to why they chose their answer, because all have solid arguments to why they feel this way.
I would definitely prefer there not to be labels! It would be so much simpler for people not to assume heterosexuality and would make me feel more confident and accepted if they asked ‘are you in a relationship?’ instead of ‘do you have a boyfriend?’.
Well labels are comforting for some people, so, no. We need labels.
This question is very debatable. To me, the idea of just being yourself without labels sounds peaceful and accepting. But we don’t live in that kind of world. The world we live in always tells us labels will divide us instead of understanding how it can unite us in so many ways. I really do enjoy being able to have the vocabulary and have the words to finally describe me.
To me, it’s amazing that one single word can be tied to an entire community that can be so loving because we all have that one word in common. In all honesty, the people who have told me that I don’t need labels and shouldn’t use them are my straight family members. I feel like they think this way because they cannot understand this feeling because they are the “default”.
Do you like using identity labels?
- Yes 48%
- No 31%
- Mixed Feelings 21%
& I think this is where it gets interesting (for me anyway). We showed in the last question that people would prefer not to use labels, but here we see that individuals like to use labels. Now, by reading all of the submissions I’ve gathered an in-depth understanding to why people like to use their labels. But with over 150+ submissions, sadly I can’t show them all or this post will be the length of the great wall of China.
So, before we go any futher. I want to show you again why people voted the way they did.
I do. I like using labels because I feel like it defines me? If that makes sense. I know my sexuality doesn’t define what kind of a person I am, but I like having a label.
Labels create a divide among people and I think we need to stop labelling and start living.
I think we live in a heteronormative society where people assume you are straight and that you are one of two genders. Labels help other people see how oppressive this is and how many different types of people there are. Whether that be gender, sexuality or both. Ideally, it would be nice to live in a world that doesn’t need labels but it’s part of the human condition.
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to live in a society where we have to label ourselves. But, the truth is we live in a society where we feel complied to give ourselves a label to “fit in”. After reading why many people voted yes, they like using identity labels. I understood that it wasn’t because they enjoyed calling themselves LGBT+, it was to ensure they fit in with the society around them.
As human beings, we have strong urges to belong to something. For some, without a label the sense of not belonging and being alone is overpowering & they need to find something they can identify & attach to. For others, we look past this and we’re okay with just being a human being, with no labels attached.
But sadly, we live in a world where being just human isn’t enough. We can’t just be who we are, we have to be divided whether by race, sexuality, gender, religion & so on. This is having a direct impact on us all and without even realising we’re being divided into a category that labels us a certain way.
My true feelings are, even if we hate our labels & we defy them, there is always going to be something else that will categorise us. If you enjoy using your labels, then paint the town red & do you. Don’t care about what anyone says & live your god damn life. If you don’t want to use labels, then don’t. It’s really that simple.
We. Are. Human.
Writer / Founder of Unite UK
As an active member in the LGBT+ community, i’m aware of how labels are use to discriminate the community. However after this post, my eyes have been open to why the LGBT+ community feel safe using their labels. It’s made me question, should I be proud of my own identity or stick to just being human? Who knows!