This is a general statement but, we as human love labels. Literally, every new person we come across is labeled by our own perceptions of who they are within a span of 10 seconds of interacting with them. Subconsciously, we think we have people figured out from head to toe. I have no scientific fact to back up this statement but I can go out on a limb and say that human beings are the most complexed forms of life known to man, yet we are so profoundly flawed in the ways we have been designed to think by our patriarchies.
Why do we label everything and everyone?
Placing labels on people is a cognitive mechanism allows us to predict people’s behaviors and tendencies just by paying attention to certain cues that are given off by the subject. We were taught this the first few years of our life. As toddlers, we were told by our mothers and fathers that a boy acts one way and a girl needs to act the exact opposite. For eons, that way of thinking has been past down as a social standard. God forbid we actually let our son’s play with Bratz dolls instead of tossing around a football all day.
Nonetheless, labeling sets up an expectation that is so fascinating that we sometimes are unable to see things for who and what they are. Expectations often give off a false sense of clarity especially toward things that are fickle and unforeseen.
Honestly, it’s easy to label things. It makes life a whole lot easier because it allows us to categorize people by their jobs, race, looks, and religion. However, life is much deeper than a label. As complex as we are, we often become too lazy or uncomfortable to challenge our own expectations and beliefs. We’re afraid to reach beyond our surface level thinking and realize that people are actually ten times more than the labels that are prescribed to them.
Labels Within The LGBTQ+ Community
It isn’t a secret, our own community labels each other. To think such a socially oppressed group of individuals would ever think to place themselves into a gay box. Yes, it’s true, the LGBTQ+ community, a community that is highly diverse in terms of identity and gender expression will somehow find a way to cram all of the different archetypes into one small gay aesthetic. This kind of cultural group- thinking is the ultimate destroyer of the LGBTQ+ community. ( See “The Struggles Of Community Building” )
As a black gay man myself, I have also have posted pre-conceived labels on other gay men without even knowing anything about them – IT’S SICKENING!
Commonly used phrases/words that are used to define gay men:
- Feminine, Girl,
- Jock, Otter, Daddy, Bear, Twink
- F*g, Sissy, Homo, C*nt
- Drug abuser, Meth head
- Diseased, Dirty
- Drama Queen, Butch Queen
- Drag Queen
- Bottom, Top
I realize that some of these terms may be more offensive than others, and some might even be more liberating and affirming, however, we must understand that these words DO NOT define who we are as queer-identifying individuals, and most importantly as people.
Unfortunately, there are many occasions where people in and out of our community expect us to proclaim to phrases like “butch queen” and “sissy” as if there’s a collar around our necks that imprint such labels. After being told constantly that you are perceived as a “girl” or ” c*nt”, people will begin to subscribe and embody the behaviors that are associated with these labels and forget who they really are.
You Are More Than
I want you to grasp this concept and understand it fully. You are more than the labels that are tagged along with your sexual identity. Your sexual identity makes up only a small percentage of who you really are. The labels that are assigned to us should never be the cover of your existence. Whether you are a gay, pansexual, or even heterosexual, you are a living entity of this world with so many different aspects to life.
You are employed, you are college educated, you are independent, you are a role model, you are a teacher, you are a brother, sister, or maybe even a mother. You are all of your experiences that make up you. Humans are complex– we aren’t designed to fit into a “one size fits all box”.