12 comments on “LABELS ARE FOR SOUP CANS. AND RECORDS. AND DESIGNER JEANS…AND PEOPLE?

  1. I believe you shouldn’t even use any labels. When you fall in love with someone go and explore the relationship you can have with that person. if things get that serious just introduce them to your parents and say “this is my girlfriend/boyfriend” and not have a further conversation about it. The thing here is-everyone’s expecting to find someone and usually even though we may be straight, people do not approve for some reasons. People sometimes set unrealistic (& stupid) expectations for the kid to follow. It’s up to the kid to decide if it’s worth it.
    🙂

    You said that you cannot be sure if you’re a lesbian or bisexual-don’t worry and don’t label yourself. Let your heart speak 🙂

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment! Not using labels at all is such a liberating thought, isn’t it? Culture puts on us the obligation to use labels and then gives us a language which is insufficient to describe how we feel…and this is frustrating. Many times I have considered your idea of simply introducing family to the new girlfriend/boyfriend without having a conversation about how I got there, and this is an appealing thought, although I think they will guess something is different before I get to that point if they pay any attention to my life! LOL. Labels are society’s way of policing our sexuality. They make the heteronormative crowd comfortable but cause identity issues for a lot of individuals!

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      • Unfortunately you really cannot avoid the conversation at all but you can certainly reduce it. This heteronormativity (not even sure it’s a word) needs to stop. 🙂
        I guess they may notice something but people always do that, don’t you think? It’s not only in terms of sexuality-it’s also in terms of school, friendships, jobs… It’s probably in our nature to be nosy more or less.

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      • Haha! Yes it is…and my parents are extremely nosy! My mom considers me something of a BFF, which is nice usually but it means she wants to know exactly where I am and what I am doing all the time. I have a feeling I’ll have to make up a fictional book club if I want to join any sort of LGBT group. Things will get easier when I move out in a few months. Are your parents nosy like this? LOL.

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      • They’re more of the controlling type, although they may appear as “caring”. Well, this applies for my mom and her boyfriend-dad’s out of the picture.

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  2. I totally emphasise with what you say about labels. People want us to use them, demand them, interpret any we use in their own way which disagrees with our own interpretation, and then
    /or want to argue about if we’re a “real” lesbian, or whatever; and, if we don’t exactly fit into that typical box, tell us we’re abnormal, and, in my experience, it’s because we’re mentally ill, (particularly distressing to grapple with if we actually have any psychological issues. I had some). Why not just refuse to use a label to avoid those traps, because they just open a can of negativie emotions ranging from embarrassment to self doubt to, feeling manipulated and alone. Because we shouldn’t have to justify how we feel and what we want with words. Maybe say I feel I need a devoted female companion so in a way I have a lesbian side? And if they say but is it about sex, just say that feels too personal to discuss, all I will say is I feel I need to be with a woman devotedly. And don’t stir from that – because we should now have to have our inner selves exposed for inspection, even by our parents, and especially in an atmosphere of not love.

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    • Yes, exactly! to all of this. I think it’s the inspection that bothers me the most – being very early in the stages of coming out, the thought of having to clarify my orientation to anyone I happen to meet when it comes up (Dentist: “So, do you have a boyfriend?” etc.) feel daunting. Invasive. Annoying. As you say, we are not always in a loving atmosphere when these exchanges take place. And yet to keep it inside and not come out, the way I did with the guy at the bar the other night, also feels like a slap in the face to our identity. A large part of me doesn’t WANT to pass for a straight girl. But then the lack of proper labels make it 100% more confusing. The whole #notareallesbian thing has become viral…we are judged by the world of heteronormativity when we come out, and then we turn around to get judged by our own community, who should be supportive! (The negative assessment by straight people when they decide to be the authority on who qualifies as gay is also noteworthy, and baffling.) And all those emotions, embarrassment, self-doubt…yes. I can’t tell you how many times I wake up in panic and have to check to make sure I’m still into women (I was going to say, “and make sure I’m still gay,” but that would be using a label, and I guess I don’t yet feel privileged to use it yet. WTF.). It’s as if I’m worried I made this whole thing up and I’m going to snap out of it at any moment and realize I’ve been craving men all along. I don’t WANT that to happen, because in the last few months that I’ve allowed myself to be truthful and honest with my feelings, I’ve come to like the person I am for the first time ever. And labels, well…they don’t even scratch the surface of our inner lives. 🙂

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  3. I can only send you my wholehearted empathy – I’m probably around the same age as your parents, but the xeitgeist is only at the start of acknowledging that labels don’t describe complicated blueprints everyone fits into – it’s quite eerie in a way how little the social climate both gay and straight seems to have changed in the last 20 to 10 years, and throughout different parts of the Anglosphere and beyond. My mother, whom I was outed to by someone I trusted, and her sister, said they accept “real lesbians” are women who are tomboys from their earliest days, and end up in adulthood acting like and presenting themselves like men – they said they accept those people are naturally that way – but women who are feminine, such as myself, cannot be lesbian, must just have psychological issues and can get beyond them with help such as counselling and go on to exclusively like men – that was their take on things – I guess heteronormativity attitudes cover that, (I must read more on that word); on the lesbian and mixed lgbtqa social scenes, there’s a lot of that too, that “real lesbians” are a certain type which starts with looking and acting on no way femme, (I don’t know if you are femme), and goes on to only desiring women and only having a certain life narrative of only ever desiring women and there being only one way to desire them and so on – with all other women who want girlfriends being psychologically ill, confused, abnormal, unacceptable – so we find ourselves accepted there either – which is not good because life is dangerous and highly stressful when someone is always facing it alone. One thing I did learn is that the Goth scene tends to be much more relaxed about people having whatever love encounters n relationships they need/want without having to fit into certain labels like lesbian, without biphobia, femmephobia, intolerance towards poly n open relationships – a good fit for me in some ways as I do have a strong Gothic side and adore Victorianesque lacey and corsetted Goth clothes/fashions. I don’t know the answer to persistent men on the straight bar scenes, they sure are a pain. I tend to be secretive with superficial social people like the dentist and that works for me. I get the impression there is a typical type lesbian majority, but there also are many not normal “lesbians” and lesbians, and the world must get used to us existing as we have every right to be here, unaltering ourselves, whatever we call ourselves, and many if not most of us do know what we need and want and our needs and wants are valid.

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  4. How strange society is. It is interesting that you mention your mom’s and aunt’s almost-acceptance of more masculine lesbians. I think the climate is slowly changing toward more and more acceptance for all types of gay people, both within our community and by straight people, but it’s definitely taking its time. It’s strange to pick on style. There are many femme lesbians…it’s even a stylistic subtype, if you’re going to categorize (and make generalizations, but yeah). Did you always like women, or was it more of a process of discovery for you? Personally, I think my parents are going to have a hard time with it mostly because I didn’t realize all of this until I was 24, because I dated men my whole life till now. They show more acceptance for people who have never considered themselves anything but gay. And yeah, the few friends I’ve come out to were indeed shocked because I was quite femme for most of my life as well. I didn’t “look gay.” Incidentally, I find myself now gravitating more toward a sort of androgynous look, but mostly because I want to make a visible change, and because new clothes are fun. Part of me will always love pearls, and it isn’t up to the sexuality police to decide what I can call myself if I wear them. It is very interesting and cool that you have found a more accepting outlook in the Goth style. Are there many Goth lesbians, or is it just that sexual orientation is merely incidental to the scene? Clearly there needs to be a Goth gay bar somewhere. 🙂

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  5. I always liked women/girls from age 12, but in a romantic way only. I had never heard the word lesbian when I first told my mum at age 12 about my crushes on girls, (this was about 1980), and she said my feelings were sick and wrong – that’s all she said – and then a year or two later, she elaborated to say when I mentioned another girl crush that it was impossible to have a crush on another girl without it being something called lesbian, which was a sexual thing, and, when I protested it wasn’t sexual for me, she said, “Well, okay, but no one will ever believe that if you tell them, so it”s just as bad”. About that time I got interested in psychology, and read Freud, who said all love feelings are based on sex even if people are not aware of it, so that backed up what my mother had said. I was always very feminine, and feminine only – a ruffles and lace and pretty dresses addict. I never had any boyfriends in my teens, but that was just seen as ideal behaviour for me by my parents as we were religious, and so were our friends, and, additionally in those days and in Britain, I don’t think it was considered acceptable by most parents for teenagers of opposite sexes to spend couply time together at least before they were sixth form age – ie, 16 or 17 – so, if I had seen a boy, like most teens of the time ie some of my friends, I wouldn’t have told my parents about it anyway and, nor would they have expected that, (sometimes, at the time, parents tolerated a pre-sixth-form genuine puppy love romance, if one was discovered, but generally dating wasn’t considered wise before 16 or 17). I did find men attractive at times, in my late teens, but I had serious health problems then and no social opportunities as part of that, and, by my early 20s I just felt I was too ill to nurse a man – for I was only ever attracted to ill men – in fact, I needed a nurse myself, (one I envisaged as femmininely female).

    I think parents who object to daughters being lesbian often just grasp onto anything they can think of to say you can’t be one, the idea being, that they can change your mind about it, and then you’ll be straight. With you, they propose that because you’ve had boyfriends until your mid 20s, it cannot be true; with me, it was because I was too feminine, so it couldn’t be true; with someone who’s never had boyfriends and was butch always perhaps they’d say that daughter had a bad relationship with her brothers growing up and that’s turned her against men – or, anything else they could think up – though actually at least here where I live I think parents often do accept the sexuality of their children who grow up gender variant; such offspring often don’t have to come out as their parents have already guessed or suspected long ago, due to them fitting the stereotypes.

    I didn’t find lesbian was used more as a label in Goth land. Labels were used a lot less often and when they were, taken as more flexible, taken more intelligently. They were and still seem to be a lot of bisexuals, pansexual, asexuals, open relationships, polyamory and gender variance in the Goth scenes. I have only socialised at home over the last few years so am no longer very familiar with it.

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    • It’s sad, your mother insisting your romantic crushes on girls were invariably sexual. And the words “sick and wrong.” Yikes. I feel in some ways that all men need to be nursed, whether they are ill or not, lol. Especially the ones who rely on their mothers growing up and then expect the girlfriend/wife to fill his mommy’s role! And you’re right about parents thinking they can change you by telling you it’s not possible for you to be a lesbian… That’s the whole mind-game of it.

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