I rarely think about the labels that describe me.
That isn’t because of privilege (I spent many years painfully aware of them), but because my friends are incredibly supportive and we’ve been able to cultivate an environment where I’m not constantly reminded of why I don’t “belong”. (It took many grueling years to achieve that, and I’m still reminded of my weirdness if I leave home for any appreciable length of time. Fortunately, I’m a bit of a homebody.)
The majority of people don’t think about their labels either, but for privileged reasons, until a minority calls it to their attention. Then you get almost-comical indignant hot takes of the “don’t call me cis, that’s a slur!” variety.
At least, they would be comical if they weren’t so stupid and dangerous.
Identity is a funny thing. I actually find rather insulting the proposition that you can take the vast diversity of the lived experiences of billions of people and compress it into one bit of information.
“Are you a YES or a NO?” “Are you X or Y?” “Are you good or evil?”
Labels are a lossy compression algorithm. They’re meant to simplify and convey ideas so they’re more broadly accessible and easily understood. In practice, people are overly reliant on them, and they become a crutch.
Sure, you can think of me as an androsexual, demisexual, cisgender male with a dhole fursona, but do most of us even know what that means?
Pride is a protest against unjust systems. Pride started with a riot in response to police violence and discrimination. You probably didn’t learn about Pride in great detail in history class (if at all).
Pride parades in recent years have been co-opted by what some call “rainbow capitalism”.
And this obviously feels really gross, but at the same time, it’s often somehow forgivable that companies use Pride Month (June) to show active support for their LGBTQIA+ employees. (If nothing else, it assures us that we won’t suddenly become unemployed if someone accuses us of falling in love with a person with the “wrong” phenotype, etc.)
There are currently a lot of hard conversations taking place about a different target of police violence and discrimination.
I hope that the protests happening today will result in the change our world needs, so that everyone can live equally without fear or shame for who they are.
This will almost certainly require dismantling racist systems and rebuilding them without the tainted legacy they originated from.
That being said, I’ve never really been fond of the emotion, pride. It feels inherently reckless to me. At the same time, I acknowledge it’s a great foil for the emotions that bigots want us to feel (fear, shame, despair, self-loathing, etc.). If that works for you, I’m happy. Keep on keeping on.
Rather than pride, I’ve always sought contentment and joy in my life.
Authenticity means a lot to me, and being fearlessly and shamelessly me is something I shouldn’t have to work for or feel proud about; nor should anyone else.
Contentment and joy… there used to be another word folks used to encapsulate that genre of emotion: Gay.
It always comes full-circle, doesn’t it?
A Dream To Seek
Society has numerous institutions and systems that are designed and implemented to ensure discrimination and injustice against people who are different than their architects.
As long as bigoted institutions and systems exist, society will always need movements like Pride and Black Lives Matter to resist atrocity and inspire loud authenticity, in equal measure.
So it might sound odd to say without the above context, but as a strong proponent of human rights and equality, I dream of the day when these movements no longer need to exist; for the day when their job is done and we have moved past the specter of hate that continues to haunt each generation that survives its direct violent influence. I say this knowing that this day will probably never come (at least in my lifetime).
Until bigotry is abolished, and bigotry’s apologists recognize that they’re little more than asymptomatic carriers of that vile psychic pathogen, I will continue to strive to enable everyone I can reach to enjoy the same peace that my friends and I have built at home.
No matter your sex. No matter your gender. No matter the gender(s) you’re attracted to (if any). No matter your race or ethnicity.
The labels people use to describe us shouldn’t condemn anyone to a life of misery and injustice.
The day we cultivate a society that is absent of, and resistant to, the kind of hate and discrimination we’ve seen for centuries will be a day worthy of pride.
And the only way to get there is to acknowledge a simple truth: Black Lives have to Matter in order for the superset (“All Lives”) to Matter.
What Do Your Labels Mean?
This will probably be my only Pride Month post on this blog, so I suppose it makes sense to explain them.
I’m a guy, who’s attracted to guys (thus, androsexual)… but I don’t exactly have a “type”. I have to genuinely like a person to find them attractive. That’s the demisexual part.
Most people understand being gay, conceptually. Asexuality might also click readily without a lot of exposition.
Being demi is weird: You spend a lot of time wondering if you’re asexual or not, until you actually develop feelings for someone else for the first time.
Cisgender just means “not transgender”; that is to say, I identify as the same gender I was assigned at birth.
If that’s helpful to know, cool. But you don’t have to think of me in those terms. I’m just Soatok.