Drop The Labels: Be Proud and Open Minded

By: Vyky Saiz

I have only seriously been with women. I think the last time I kissed a guy was in eighth grade. Romantically, I am motivated by feeling and not by curiosity, so it never went further than a kissing a boy. I don’t treat people, in the same way, I would treat a new snack or a new activity. Since it was always so clear to me who I was drawn to, it was easy to call myself a lesbian. There were familial tribulations, but I always knew which gender caught my attention. During high school, I carried the gold-star label with pride. As a sixteen-year-old, it felt really important to me because I wanted to minimize the need to defend my Lesbianism. There was no better “proof” that I was gay than to say I hadn’t engaged with men romantically or sexually.

All of this was at a time when the LGBT+ community was going through a sort of renaissance. Millennials in the community believed visibility to the world and demanding our rights were critical. The expansion of the Internet and the rise of social media made it easier for us to be seen. In college, I stopped emphasizing on the “gold-star” and when I graduated I let go of the lesbian label, as well. But it’s not because any of those labels were less true.

I recognized that the more pride I carried the further it pushed me away, even from people within my same community. As a lesbian, I felt like I had real social struggles in comparison to bisexuals who weren’t “really gay.” As a gold-star lesbian, I felt I was a true lesbian because I was self-aware enough that I didn’t need to test the water with men. It took quite some passionate arguments, my sociology classes at university, and a long period of self-reflection for me to see who I became. The community started to create its own internal shifts and it was easy to get lost in the mess. Eventually, it started to stretch beyond the scope of the LGBT+ community.

This unofficial millennial renaissance is still trying to make waves. Its true goal is to help all oppressed people make a name for themselves. I’m concerned that we have started to lose sight on how to succeed in this goal. Creating labels and not being afraid to show them was only a tiny piece to a large puzzle, but not an actual long-term solution. I worry we are at risk of having gone too far and we are forgetting on how exactly we got to where we are now.

I dropped the labels because I recognized that for each new label we create the further apart we become as a society. I am not against building a community because community is essential for survival. Being a part of something is sometimes the only thing that keeps us going through our day-to-day struggles. I’m very proud to be gay, but I’m more proud to say that I’m human. Connecting on that fact that we are human and nothing else forces us to dispel any other possible excuses we have to separate ourselves. Seeing a human is how we don’t voluntarily (or involuntarily) see race/ethnicity, sex/gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or any of the social barriers we create between one another.

Love who you are and don’t be ashamed of the pieces that shape you. But remember who you first are when you come across someone you would prefer to build a wall around. Don’t immediately shut down, but instead, and sometimes with all of your might, learn about that person. Be sure to prioritize what is actually important. The only label I carry is my name, and I would love to know yours.