This post was written anonymously.
Labels are everywhere. We occupy space in a society today where labels permeate every aspect of our existence. Be it about our identity, our lifestyle choices, or even our careers – we label ourselves at times without even realizing that we have. This isn’t always a bad thing, though.
Labels are good, most of the time. They help us recognize who we are and where we stand in society. For a lot of people, labels imply a sense of belonging and a camaraderie of sorts, especially in the queer community. But for some of us, they really don’t do much good.
In fact, they might be doing more harm than good.
Micro labels and the split attraction model have helped countless of people in the queer community understand themselves better. Myself included, to an extent. My journey with understanding who I was from an identity perspective started when I was 16. I thought I was bisexual for a while until I realized I liked women, but I was not inclined to date them.
This led to a couple of years of active repression of my sexuality. It was partly due to some level of internalized homophobia but mostly not being able to understand who I was. One part of me wanted so badly to comprehend if I was bi, gay, or just straight. While another part of me also wished I didn’t have to figure this out at all.
When I was 19, and in college, and still actively in denial about my attraction to women, I came across asexuality and the split attraction model. I realized that I could be biromantic and heterosexual or even biromantic and asexual. Since I had never really dated anyone before that, be it a man or a woman, I figured its the latter.
Now you’d think, “Oh, great. She figured herself out and lives in peace with it now.” But I would like to tell you; you are absolutely wrong! That was the beginning of a tumultuous journey that I am still struggling with to this day. If you ask me today, “What do you identify as?” I still won’t have an answer for you because I really don’t know. And I’m reaching a point in my life where I genuinely think I never will.
Ever since I was 19 and till the present day (I’m 24 now), I have struggled with labeling myself with the likes of bisexual, asexual, heterosexual, etc. I have also struggled with my romantic identity a lot. It really doesn’t end.
Every single day, I’m reminded of one simple fact. That while all of these labels exist, none of them encompasses my experiences and feelings well enough for me to identify with them.
I might feel asexual for some time, but then I experience sexual attraction, and my whole world comes crashing down. I might think my attraction to the same sex is not strong enough for it to qualify as being bisexual. And then I will develop a strong enough crush on a woman for this to be shattered too.
In a nutshell, I can’t be defined. My experiences and feelings are varied and fluctuating constantly. The more I try to label myself and my experiences, the more disillusioned and out of touch with myself, I feel. This is amplified by the fact that every label initially feels like a call home. And then when the initial excitement of being in a community wears off, I’m all alone, yet again.
I recently came across sexual fluidity as a term, and it struck me. It basically comprises of people who queer or not, do not identify with a single label or term. These people don’t wish to label themselves, and labels might even feel constricting to them. This really struck me because I rarely have, if ever, read about being fluid.
I have come across articles about celebrities like Miley Cyrus identifying as sexually fluid and Ezra Miller not wanting to label themself. These do help, but there’s still a huge emphasis on labeling yourself in the media and our society at large.
Funnily enough, I live in a society that would probably never accept me for being queer, questioning, or even sexually fluid. Thus, the anonymity of this piece. But I do think that I’m not the only one out there who doesn’t find themselves fitting into one label.
I have struggled with my sexual identity for time immemorial. I have blamed it on my trauma, my suffering, and upbringing, the likes. But I have also realized that I don’t have to fit into a label to be validated. I just am.
I don’t have to be heterosexual, bisexual, or asexual exclusively. I can just be what I want when I want. I don’t always have to label it, and I definitely don’t have to talk about it if it makes me uncomfortable. My feelings are entirely personal to me, and nobody else’s business whatsoever.
This realization, though difficult, is something I’m still coming to terms with. As pride month comes up every year, I see people engage in discourse within their communities and celebrate. This makes me feel a sense of alienation because I don’t know who to bond with. I don’t know who will understand and relate to me.
Up until last year, I used to decide on a label for pride month and decide to engage in discourses within that community. This year, I have decided not to do any of that because I have realized that I simply don’t have to.
If I struggled for so long with my identity, I’m sure there’s a confused 13 or 20- years-old somewhere struggling with theirs too. If I can accept myself for not fitting in, maybe one day they will too? This thought and hope keep me going.
It’s okay to not find yourself fitting into one label. It’s okay to label but it’s also okay to change your labels if they don’t feel comfortable anymore. It’s okay to just be you. You’re valid, I’m valid, we’re all valid as long as we’re not potentially hurting any lives or questioning anyone’s existence. Especially not our own.