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Labels, acronyms, gender pronouns, and symbols

The thing about labels...

We often use labels because they fit and better connect us with others like us. For example, "I'm a gay man", "I'm a bear" or "I'm part of the LGBT community." Others find them rigid and fixed, preferring instead to self-identify as queer, or pansexual, for example, or refuse to be labelled at all. We've also more about labels and types in MEN.

Society is often quick to lump everyone who is not heterosexual under a 'homosexual', 'gay' or 'LGBT' banner. By adhering to society's labels one tends to think of these terms of having to be this or that, one thing or the other, leaving other people out in the cold.

Cut out the labels

The thing about labels is that you cut them out and replace them with your own. What you call yourself is up to you. The important thing is that you choose what feels comfortable for you. There is a growing movement of people who refuse to be labelled and are striking out to define themselves on their own terms. Having said that, society feels safer by putting people in boxes (for all sorts of things) so while you may not want a label it can be a struggle defining yourself to others.

Reduced to one thing

There's also something to be said about being reduced to one thing, and few if any of us like this. Gay men, particularly, are often reduced to sexually transmitted infections, sexual acts, or hedonism when, in fact, we are (of course) so much more. It's one of the reasons why we built this website; being gay is an important part of who we are but it's not all that we are.

People, the media especially, will define us in whatever ways are convenient and easy, often at the expense of accuracy and recognising our individuality. While some of us may be gay, lesbian, bi or trans (or whatever we choose to call ourselves) we are also parents, workers, learners and explorers. At times we feel indignant, other times we shrug and realise that's just the way it is, but there are other times when we're actually quite pissed off!

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