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May 24

What’s in a Label?

 

Often times, people make assumptions about others that place them in a particular category of the mind and augments how interactions take place between them.  Labels are ascribed, male or female, gay or straight, married or single, etc.  While these are not the only choices, they are some of the cruder, more dichotomous choices that we make about others in deciding how we are to interact with them. In assigning those labels, that is the only conversation that is had.  People often times don’t seek beyond that label to find out more about the person.

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A close friend once said,

“Labels should be the door to conversation, not the conversation itself” -E.C.

That, my dear, is very true.

 

See, what happens when that label is assigned, nothing more is said.  That person is grouped in the category with which certain social and societal norms are placed and it groups how we as a people have come to accept them and how we in turn treat them.  Therefore, when we meet people that don’t neatly fit in previously defined categories, i.e. transgendered, bisexuals, long-term cohabitations; it tends to disrupt how we have preset ourselves to understand interactions.  How many times have you been puzzled while walking down the street trying to figure out if someone was a male or female? It may not have caused a severe disruption to your day or even morning, but it did give you pause because you were not sure how you should speak or even form basic pronouns to describe that person.  The brain was at a loss for words.

 

When we come across people who identify, or even choose not to identify as a preset category, that should not be the end of the conversation that we have in our minds about how to treat or accept that person.  For heteroflexible male, it means that he doesn’t have to fit our preconceived connotations of masculinity in a male dominated, heterosexual world.  For a woman who identifies as homosexual, it means that she has the freedom and flexibility to be more than a label more than a title.  For the gender queer, pansexual, transsexual, it means sexuality and gender comes in many forms, shapes, and sizes.  Not just three discreet categories. There is a continuum from heterosexuality to homosexuality just as there is a continuum between femininity and masculinity with no right or wrong points to be at.  We each define our own sexuality, and if anything that gay pride has taught us is that its okay to be you. No matter how you define that label, because it’s the one label that will never change.

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