Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Label with Care

I have recently been accused of ‘flaunting my queeritude, as I so desperately wanted to be seen as gay’.

I have never really thought of myself as gay. I guess living with a guy and our two kids does not exactly paint the typical gay picture. However, I suppose that is what this is all about. Is a typically gay guy someone you’ll find on ecstasy, staggering out of a nightclub at 5 am? Or is he the bank manager that you’ve known all your life? Is a typically gay girl shouting equal rights from a street corner, wearing overalls and a t-shirt with dyke emblazoned on it? Or is she the kindergarten teacher of your child, or your local member of parliament? And while we’re at it, what if you’re bi? Does that mean you’re out having sex with whomever you choose, male or female? Or perhaps you’re in a committed monogamous relationship with someone of the opposite sex?
A friend asked me if I thought I was gay because I liked girls, or because I had sex with girls. It made me wonder why people feel the need to label. Would she introduce me as her gay friend, or her friend? And in return, should I introduce her as my straight friend? ‘Hey everyone, this is Kristy, she has a boyfriend! Can you believe it? A heterosexual!’

I’ve never actually labelled myself. I suppose, looking back, that has made it easier for me to accept and triumph over the things that life has thrown at me.

Being one of the arty kids in school with a small group of friends, I was labelled a loner, a loser, and even for a few months, a witch. I took all of these names and filed them away. Maybe I was a loner? Perhaps I was a loser? Hey, maybe I was even a witch, but I wasn’t quite ready to use those labels on myself. None of them seemed to fit right. They hung over me like a jumper three sizes too big.

When I was thirteen, I had a crush on a girl who was in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Eisteddfod with me. She was in Year 12, with short dark hair, light blue eyes and pale, pale skin. Her name was Kate. Apart from Drew Barrymore, she is the first girl I can remember having feelings for.

A year later people in our Maths class had taken to calling a certain girl a lesbian. There was absolutely no basis for this, but I tagged along, joining in with all the appropriate exclamations of ‘gross’, ‘how disgusting’ and ‘she’s such a freak’. Not once did I connect this girl’s new label to my feelings for Kate or any other girls.

Through high school and my 20’s I had many relationships with boys. It wasn’t until late last year when I met a girl who liked me back. I guess you could label me a fully-fledged lesbian now, although I’m pretty happy with the label of ‘me’

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