What is this incessant desire for labels?
I am a girl who was raised in New Jersey by a mother from West Belfast, a father from East Belfast and a step-father who is Greek. So what nationality am I?
To put it simply, I am whichever nation’s passport gets me through the airport queue quicker. That’s about the extent of it. What am I however? That’s an entirely different matter.
I am a mother. I am a woman. I am a liberal. I am an activist. I am a believer in equality. I am a student. I am a lover of all things, as Iggy Azalea would say, ‘fancy.’ I am an absolute riot when I choose to be. I am a bit vain. I am bisexual. I could continue a lengthy list of all my attributes (and flaws), but I’ll end with I am bisexual.
Only in the last few years have I started referring to myself as bisexual. Not because I recently discovered that I was, but because it never mattered to me. Nor was my ‘silence’ on the matter due to fear of being discriminated against.
Growing up in the nineties and noughties, I never really experienced any direct discrimination due to my sexual orientation. In fact, people just quietly assumed that my sexuality was a phase, as so many obnoxious and uneducated people still believe. (Even as a young teenager the idea that some middle-aged mom or dad chalked my desires and ‘trysts’ up to experimentation or a phase was (and still is) infuriating.)
So I continued on my way, dating a guy, kissing a girl, never feeling the need to verbally identify myself as bisexual.
As I got a bit older however, I felt a societal pressure to pick one or the other. The whole idea of labels based on sexual preference seemed ludicrous to me, but I had grown a bit tired of my innate need to be non-conventional and a non-conformist.
So, bisexuality it was. It sounded inclusive and the LGBT community is downright awesome so I was quite happy to formally be a part of it. As fate would have it however, as soon as I became comfortable with this label, the label dictionary went and changed on me.
Apparently, by today’s standards, the definition of a bisexual is restricted to mean someone who is attracted to men and women. Full stop. Bloody hell, well that was certainly not the lovely, flowery and inclusive image I had dancing around in my head.
This left me with a question I had not felt the need to ask myself in years:”Who am I?”
Pansexual is the new lingo these days to classify those who don’t see gender as a determining factor – I imagine to include transgender people into the equation (I certainly hadn’t excluded them in the definition I had floating around in my head).
I have heard a lot of younger kids throw around the term pansexual, seeming to think they were the first to be feeling it, that they are the open minded sexual revolutionaries of this generation.
Personally, I have felt that gender was not a contributing factor in my attraction to others for pretty much my entire existence; I never had a name for it and I never wanted or needed a name for it.
Which goes back to my inherent belief that labels are ludicrous.
I am not by any means saying that if people need a label they shouldn’t be allowed to use one. Whatever makes you feel comfortable, whatever you do or do not want to belong to, whatever you do or do not want to be classed as is absolutely fine by me; because basically, it does not affect my life in any way.
That said, does anyone else feel that we are in real danger of running out of words in which to ascribe to in our obsession with placing ourselves into little tiny boxes?
For someone who absolutely detests labels, I do feel a constant need to give myself one. So, why is everyone so damn nosy and where did this sense of entitlement come from?
This evident entitlement of late, that we, as humans have ascribed to is wrong. We have zero right to know the innermost details of someone’s sex life. We have no right to judge people on things that they can (or cannot) change. We have no right to push a particular label onto anyone, nor insist that any individual align themselves to one.
That said, I no longer want to be known as “that bisexual american mother, who is actually an Irish pansexual.”
For future reference, I’m Mary, the girl with two passports who gets to skip the queue in the airport.
Image Credit: MzLoveLee