Labels of Convenience
Why, hello there. I’m Belle, and I am one of the new writers for Queereka. Will should be along at some point to announce the others and introduce us, but I’m not patient enough to wait to post, the reason being this topic has been on my mind for a while now, and I feel I should share.
I’ve been open about my sexuality since high school. I grew up in a gem of a midwestern town that was surprisingly accepting of LGB people—not so much the T part—but I found it difficult to explain my sexuality. Most people, even those in the LGBT community, are neither versed or even exposed to queer theory and ideas. Explaining androsexuality—androsexuality is the sexual attraction to masculine gender presentations—was difficult to impossible. In fact, I wasn’t versed in queer theory at the time either. I identified as bisexual for a bit, but it didn’t accurately describe my sexuality. I’m not sexually attracted to femininity or female gender representations; I’m sexually attracted to masculinity and male gender representations. So, I started to identify as gay. I was using it as a Label of Convenience.
I became exposed to queer ideas during my senior year of high school. I found a term that more accurately expressed my sexuality: androsexual. I found it difficult to explain this to my close friends. The response was, unanimously, “So, you’re bi then?” In response to the confusion, I continued to identify as gay, and called female people that caught my attention “exceptions.”
I’ve continued to use the Label of Convenience, but there’s a problem that I’ve slowly started to recognize. I still feel closeted because I still am closeted. Those “exceptions” aren’t exceptions! They fall well within the bounds of my sexuality. By continuing to use a Label of Convenience I am being a bad skeptic, and not being completely out about my sexuality. As a skeptic, I should patiently take the time to explain my and other sexualities and gender identities. I think that’s one of the primary goals of being a skeptic: educating the public.
I know that I’m not alone in using Labels of Convenience. I have friends who have and continue to do so. I know it’s not my place to tell anyone how to publicly identify, but I would urge any of you using a Label of Convenience, as skeptics, to more fully come out—iff (if and only if) you feel safe in doing so. It’s important to educate the public to promote understanding and acceptance, but also to give a word to some kid who is confused about their sexuality or gender identity. While science/skeptic/queer proselytizers do good work, the real fight to educate the public is done by us taking the time to expose and explain things to our friends and family.
Be Queer, and be proud of it!