The labels can continue. We’ve created labels such as butch, fem, bear and twink, top and bottom. But where do you fit in if none of the labels apply to you?
As someone who is gay but not a ‘label gay’, I know from my own personal experience what it feels like to not fit in. Not only is sexuality still an issue ‘out there’ in the mainstream, it’s also still an issue within our own community.
Sometimes, I’d like to be a gay stereotype.
I think in some ways, it would be easier. I could have a word that I could use to describe myself, that others would automatically understand. It wouldn’t encapsulate all of who I am, but at least it would be a starting point. Plus it’s good to have a short description of yourself on hand when meeting new people. People’s attention spans these days aren’t what they…wait, what was I saying?
Labels also create a sense of belonging. You’re part of a group of like-minded people. There’s a sense of comfort in that. If you live in a major city and you identify as a bear for instance, you’ll find bear social and support groups.
You also get to explore aspects of yourself in a way that is supported. There are other people who are similar to you, so you can leverage off that. You’re not re-inventing the wheel. You can go online and learn more about these communities, and subsequently, piece together your own internal jigsaw puzzle.
Like I mentioned, I’m not a label gay. I’m not a twink, twunk, cub, bear or otter. I don’t fit into any particular gay stereotype or archetype. Most people say they can’t ‘tell’ that I’m gay, but I’m no more masculine (or feminine for that matter) than anyone else. I really am just me. It’s just that I lack one convenient word to identify myself as.
The problem with labels is that if I had to label myself, I’d probably use words like “normal” or “average”. These words have a slightly negative and boring connotation. They belie the fact that exceptionality, creativity and wonder can lie in that which we may call normal or average.
As I approach my mid-30s, I’m seeing less value in labels. I see them as limiting. Both to the person who identifies as an X, as well as to the person receiving the information. Hearing that someone is a twink makes me instantly have an impression of what I expect that person to be, even if I’ve never met them before.
I’m also realising that I survived (and actually thrived) during the confusing and tumultuous decade known as my 20s. I got through it without being an easily identifiable label gay. If I can get through that, surely the road less travelled can only get easier to navigate from here?
Most of the time though, I’m fine with not being a gay stereotype.
I’m happy just to be me.