Wednesday, 30 March 2011

My labels and identity

I've had a few people poke me for and about my personal label choices, what I accept and reject

It kind of irritates me because I'm never fond of being pushed as to who and what I identify with (people who know me will testify I get ratty if people foist too many stereotypes on me). The long battle of accepting my identity, clarifying it, setting it down and establishing what it means to me and being both happy and proud of that was a long, difficult and very painful battle for me that has left scars that last to this day (hence the nice man paid to listen to me grumble). I dislike having to fight that battle again, revisit that battle or relive it. But I am dragged over it far too often – I don't like it I don't and usually just give very curt answers – this is my identity, these are the words I use, accept and be done with it, you don't need to know why.

But that answer is rarely accepted, especially by people trying to change or push my word choice. So I'm going to put my identity down in text so at least I have a link there – this is me, it does not change and then I don't have to revisit the battle so.

I identify as a gay man. I am sexually and emotionally attracted to other men. I am not now, never have been and never will be attracted to a woman. I am not romantically compatible with women.

I am a man. I am not less male because I am gay, I don't have a female spirit or a feminised brain or super female not-man-ness whatever else people want to say to deny the maleness of gay men (or the femaleness of lesbians for that matter).

Being gay is what I am – not what I do. I was gay long before I had sex, long before I touched a penis that was not my own, long before I ever had an orgasm. It's an inherent part of my being. It's as much a part of me as my arms or legs or eye colour. It's natural, innate and immutable – not something I chose nor something I can (or would) change. And it's a major part of me, not a minor, dismissable element of my being – it's a fundamental part of my identity.

In terms of word use:

I use the word “gay.” It's my go-to word.

I don't like the word “homosexual” it's clinical, it's impersonal. I'm not fond of it – but it doesn't upset me or annoy me or offend me. But I prefer gay.

I do not like the word “queer” at all. I've had it used as a slur against me far too often to ever be comfortable to me. It is a word that has strong violence triggers for me and is closely related to too many of my more unpleasant scars. I do not identify as it and I strongly dislike people calling me it. It's a word I endure, not welcome.

I use the word to refer to people who claim it out of respect for their own labelling, I do not think my own problems with the word would justify me ignoring someone else's preferred reference. I added “Q” to my tag “LGBTQ issues” because people contacted me saying they felt hurt and excluded by it's absence, so again, I stamp down my problems with the word for that sake (though, it has to be said, they seem more than happy to use it as a generic for all LGBTQ people without a thought for the exclusion of people like me, so it seems their comments to me called for respect but stopped short of offering it).

Overt and largely incontrovertible and unreclaimed slurs (fag, cocksucker, batty-boy and the many many more) I have no time or patience for and will not tolerate them. I don't want to see them in any context and you will have an extremely hard time convincing me a useage is harmless or ok

If they are self-reference then I won't judge people on their use or choice of identification. But that remains the only time that the words won't be greeted by anything but disgust from me.

Most of the time slurs are dis-emvowlled here (though not for this post for clarity's sake) not because I think it robs them of their pain but I think starring vowels in a slur makes it clear that you recognise how wrong they are and how uncomfortable writing them makes you. I don't demand dis-emvowelling though, just conscious knowledge of the word's impact to many.

I loathe the term “sexual preference”. I think it's demeaning. I think it reduces sexuality to a vague inclination or taste rather than being an integral part of my being.

I hate the term “lifestyle.” Because it, again, reduces sexuality to a hobby or experiment. I also dislike the way it implies all of us live the same kind of lives – that there is one “gay” way to live.

I dislike any reference to my sexuality to be couched in terms like “who you sleep with” or “who you have sex with” or “what goes on in your bedroom.” No, my sexuality is more than just my sex life. I am not just a gay man when shagging. My love life and relationship are not all about the hawt sex. I find it demeaning to have my love and being reduced that way.

I'm a married man. I know legally this isn't so and that annoys me a great deal. Personally and religiously I am married, denial of that tends to annoy me.

You do not know what music I like, clothes I wear, celebs I like, shows I follow etc etc etc based on my sexuality. No, no you do not. Making such assumptions about me will annoy me.

Ok I think it covers it. Perhaps I am spared re-visiting this battle in the future. Though it's inevitable I have forgot something