July 2018
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the use of labels / what is your sexual/relational self-label and what does it mean to you?


When I first 'came out,' I self-labeled as queer for two reasons. (the larger reason is something I'll discuss in another post, 'cause it's loooooong) The smaller reason was that 'bisexual' seemed too limiting, seemed to lend itself to assumptions that would be untrue. My feelings about labels have changed since then.

Labels are useful. I never understood hating them -- they're just adjectives, they don't actually define you. They're great as a jumping-off point for understanding, which is their purpose. They only become a problem when people stop there -- when people don't go further, ask more questions and discover what that label means to the specific person using it. Because labels have no real meaning until explained. To one person, lesbian means "have only ever been attracted to women, only ever slept with women, and only will ever sleep with women." To another, it simply means "woman who only wants to sleep with women from here on out" and to yet another, it means "more attracted to women than men." I knew a woman who was married to a man, had never had sex with women and intended to only have sex with her husband for the rest of her life, but she identified as lesbian. If I knew nothing of her life and heard that she identified as lesbian, I might make assumptions that would be quite wrong -- which is why one should always ask more questions after hearing someone's self-label.

So that is why I have decided to identify as 'bisexual' -- yes, people may make assumptions, but that is their failing, not mine. I want to label myself as bisexual because that seems the most honest category for me, and because I want to help change the erroneous view many have of bisexuals. I am also queer, but to me that is a broader category meaning "not straight," and it simply doesn't say enough for me to be satisfied.

I would love if you'd please respond to this post with your sexual/relational self-label and what it means to you. Comments are screened but will be unscreened unless you ask for them to stay screened.

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Comments
Page 1 of 2[1][2]
growing_wise ══╣╠══
I was lucky enough to know a "true bisexual" way back in college, when I was first coming out. And I hope you know what I mean by a "true bisexual" ... I would say that you are one, too. I mean a person who really, truly is attracted to both sexes and at any particular time can be attracted to and/or in a relationship with either sex/gender. Knowing her, and understanding her life, gave me a deep appreciation for bisexuality as a true sexuality. Many people believe bisexuality is a "bridge" or some other not-so-nice term, and I believe that for some people, it is. I identified as bisexual for a VERY short time (less than a year) before I was ready to make the "leap to lesbianism" as I call it, and I know of others who did the same thing. However, and very unfortunately, I know of some people who use the label of bisexuality to manipulate, control, and/or hurt people. Not to say that this kind of behavior is not seen by other sexualities and/or labels; this is just to say that I've seen all types.

Myself? I identify as lesbian or dyke. I have never slept with a man and I never intend to sleep with a man (gender re-assignment of a significant other not included). But I do not use this definition for others. In my mind, a lesbian is any woman who is primarily attracted to women, and for whom a majority (if not all) of intimate relationships are with women. I will be honest and say that it does confuse me to hear about women who identify as "lesbian" having sexual relationships with men. In fact one of my good friends identifies as "dyke" and "queer" but regularly has sex with male friends and gives sexual favors to men. Perhaps I'm just not enlightened but this really confuddles me.

(You're welcome to unscreen this if you choose.)
garrulous
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
However, and very unfortunately, I know of some people who use the label of bisexuality to manipulate, control, and/or hurt people.

really? how could a person do that? by pretending to crush on someone or something? *confused*

I will be honest and say that it does confuse me to hear about women who identify as "lesbian" having sexual relationships with men.

I agree. It used to annoy me but then I just decided that labels have no meaning without explanation and now I'm okay with it, heh.

as for the term 'dyke' -- I personally see that as a more broad term meaning any female person who is open to romantic&sexual relationships with women. But because most people do define it as exclusively lesbian, I don't use it as a self-identifier, publicly. :-\ which makes me a little sad, because I love the connotations of strong, outspoken girl-who-likes-girls. In my own head and with certain friends I do use it to refer to myself, though.
lesbian / the beds of lesbos
bluebl00d ══╣lesbian / the beds of lesbos╠══
I never identified myself as straight. Ever. I knew from an early age I wasn't like all the other little girls. I was different. When I was old enough to know about sex, I identified as bisexual (to myself) because at the time that's what I was, I was sexually attracted to both men and women. As time passed by my attraction to men rapidly faded into a distant memory. I would say around 18 yrs old I knew deep down I was a lesbian but for some reason I'm not quite sure why I kept identifying as Bisexual. It's only until a few years ago I openly identified as lesbian.

I identify as lesbian/dyke. I'm only sexually attracted to women, I'm not interested in men, the thought of being with a man doesn't appeal to me which doesn't mean I can't find a man attractive.

I'm talking in circles lol
artless
belenen ══╣artless╠══
thanks for sharing your story ;-)
mourningdoveava ══╣╠══
My personal label, beyond queer, is pansexual - largely because pansexual most fits what I consider to be my quite fluid sexual/relational identity - it sorts of transcends the idea of gender to me (which has never motivated my relationships or attractions) and allows me to explore what I want to freely. :)
giggling
belenen ══╣giggling╠══
yeah, that one appeals to me for that reason, but it reminds me so much of the mythical Pan that I can't think of it seriously, heh. I'm not faun-sexual *giggles*
lesbian / the beds of lesbos
bluebl00d ══╣lesbian / the beds of lesbos╠══
I forgot to express my opinion about this statement, now from only what was provided to me thus what you wrote about her:

"knew a woman who was married to a man, had never had sex with women and intended to only have sex with her husband for the rest of her life, but she identified as lesbian"

I personally don't agree with that. I totally get if a woman is only sexually attracted to other women and desires to be with a woman has every right to identify as a lesbian even though she hasn't slept with another woman. It's my own personal opinion that in order to label yourself a lesbian, the sexual intimacy with a man should be removed from the equation. Granted I don't know her whole story, maybe she's in a relationship she feels she can not get out of. But yet again I based my opinion on what you said ;)
queer
belenen ══╣queer╠══
I agree with that -- I understand the term 'lesbian' to mean 'woman who likes women exclusively.' (and she's just one of several self-identified 'lesbians' I know of who sleep with men!) It used to annoy me but then I just decided that labels have no meaning without explanation and now I'm okay with it, heh. For others anyway, I would feel dishonest to claim that for myself.
brighid0704 ══╣╠══
I identify as lesbian. For me, that means that I am attracted only to women. I have no desire to be with a man.
garrulous
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
cool, thanks for sharing!
(Anonymous) ══╣╠══
bisexuality
belenen ══╣bisexuality╠══
my own personal definition of bisexual is: "person who is open to having a sexual/romantic relationship with a person of either sex." In my opinion, attraction is something that fluctuates a lot, and therefore isn't something that makes a good definition. Many bisexuals go through periods where they are only drawn to one sex, but they identify as bisexual because they don't rule out the other sex, they're just less attracted at the time.

But these are just my definitions: what is important is how YOU define it. ;-)
(Anonymous) ══╣╠══
garrulous
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
that's very interesting! and a little sad, kinda -- but with a happy ending, now that you've found the perfect person for you. Thanks for sharing!
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
I love you so dearly!

First, I'd like to say that I agree with you about labels. I understand when and how they can become a problem, like in environments prone to quick judgements and cliques. But I have never found anything wrong with identifying oneself as one title or another... people who go through medical school are proud for the title of Doctor, for example. It is true there is a difference in that something like bisexuality isn't a profession that someone strives for. It's in many ways natural. Yet I do think of finding a way to identify oneself as a journey, a time to explore and to grow, in order to find what one stands for or relates to. It is okay to identify as one thing or another as long as it isn't to put others down, to gain superficial hierarchical esteem, or to limit/cut off ones worldview from being open-minded. It can instead be a way to declare pride in who I am, what I am, where I am, why I am what I am, etc. To make a statement that I am composed of many different traits, and have a good understanding or a willingness to understand the complex situations and circumstances that can show where I stand and what I stand for.

People can't be REDUCED to any particular title or trait, which is a problem I think sometimes occurs, so sometimes we avoid it. It's understandable why this would occur. And there *are* some things in life that are fluid, and we don't necessarily need a label for everything. It's common and okay to be unsure and ambiguous, too. Open-mindedness = a good thing! Yet to completely avoid names or ways to distinguish oneself is not going to liberate us... instead, I think it keeps us and others in the dark, ignorant and afraid of diversity and individuality.

Because I am me, I know I will probably take up character limitation eventually...so I'm going to post this and write a separate comment answering your questions :)
bisexuality
belenen ══╣bisexuality╠══
Yet to completely avoid names or ways to distinguish oneself is not going to liberate us... instead, I think it keeps us and others in the dark, ignorant and afraid of diversity and individuality.

I so agree! The thing is, heterosexuality is assumed, and so by remaining label-less I am defaulted to hetero (by most people). And according to Kinsey at least, most people are bisexual, but this is completely disbelieved. Part of the reason I take on a label is to make us less invisible, since I believe that is important.
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
Sooo. While I'm not opposed to finding a self-label that fits, and seek to do exactly that, I am currently unsure on what that label will be. Sexuality is a very confusing thing to me, as well as relational issues, and I'm still working out a lot of the kinks my self-perception has acquired after dealing with/observing mixed messages and abuse over the years.

I know that I'm most inclined lately to go with Bisexual. But I'm still figuring some things out.

Actually, I just typed this huuuge long thing about my story on this topic. But I decided I should wait until I post my own post about it, as I want to do so. Thank you for getting me thinking, though. I also have some questions for you about your further thoughts on this... which I'll ask when I have more energy :)
pouting
belenen ══╣pouting╠══
awww POO I have to wait? *huge melodramatic sigh*
Candy Apples
jendaby ══╣Candy Apples╠══
I identify as bisexual and polyamorous. I am equally attracted to men and women - but to clarify, since some people assume otherwise, I am not attracted to ALL men and women. I have specific things that attract me, have certain things that I like, have a "type" for each. Yes, I have been with both men and women. I have dated both in relationships that never progressed to sex. I have had crushes on both, and unreturned affections from both. I am currently with both, and they are together as well - forms a perfect circle of love and affection between three people. Many people assume that someone who is bisexual and/or polyamorous is a sex fiend and wants to do it all the time. I find this so weird, because I am so involved with the romantic/friendship/love angle of everything that I do not understand how anyone can see it as purely sexual just because I am with a woman (like when strangers ask if they can watch us do it after they see us hold hands). I love two people. I am devoted to them. I have no intention of straying from them. I feel happy and fulfilled where I am, whether we are cooking dinner together or watching a movie or being more intimate. It's so about the love for me.
beautiful
belenen ══╣beautiful╠══
It's so about the love for me.

oh, I love what you wrote here, thanks so much for sharing ♥
(Anonymous) ══╣╠══
garrulous
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
Re: Pls to keep this screened.
thanks for sharing!
Space Dragon
devjannz ══╣Space Dragon╠══
If I were to label myself, I guess I would have to say straight, but with glances toward bisexuality.

I had a couple of experiences with the same sex when I was younger and first discovering my sexuality.

Over the years, I have found myself to be mainly attracted to women and have only had relationships with women, but there have been a small(I can count them on one hand) number of men that I have found attractive but not enough to actually act on it. The possibility is there but I am not sure that anything would ever happen.
garrulous
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
thanks for sharing!
(Anonymous) ══╣╠══
ewwwww
belenen ══╣ewwwww╠══
yeah it is really annoying when people try to put their own labels on you *grr*
mister_smartass ══╣╠══
I'm straight, and by straight I mean I've never given men much thought. *shrug*

I'm single. single meaning I'm too old to get shot down without looking sad. :-p
teasing
belenen ══╣teasing╠══
single meaning you don't ask people out anymore? :-o
kschap ══╣╠══
I don't entirely know. I'd say bisexual, because I'm sexually attracted to both males and females... but then I wonder if that's inaccurate because I've never experienced so much as a non-platonic kiss with a female. It fluctuates, also: sometimes I feel more into males, and sometimes more into females. And of course I also have an interest in people who are transgender or otherwise androgynous, so it gets fuzzy.

So. Let's see. Pansexual-in-theory? :)
bisexuality
belenen ══╣bisexuality╠══
my own personal definition of bisexual is: "person who is open to having a sexual/romantic relationship with a person of either sex." In my opinion, attraction is something that fluctuates a lot, and therefore isn't something that makes a good definition. Many bisexuals go through periods where they are only drawn to one sex, but they identify as bisexual because they don't rule out the other sex, they're just less attracted at the time. (I'm getting that info from bi_people, very cool comm btw)

but of course, that's just my definition. ;-) And for me, bisexual includes transgender/intergender/genderqueers but perhaps for some bisexuals it doesn't? I'm unclear on that.
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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.