The "Romulan" Way (Or: Why label it at all???)

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    Oct 03, 2007 3:08 AM GMT
    Oh, man, after reading the g0ys thread, I had to comment, but knew that I was heading into uncharted waters.

    Recently, I met a man from Spain. I may have mentioned it in another thread or in my profile updates or something. Anyway, his name is Andre, and he's gorgeous. He looks 20-something, but is really 40-something (which is ok, because I'm 50-something, and only look 30-something)

    Anyway, a bunch of us were talking at the bar, specifically regarding my recent coming out and the one and only "experience" I had being a bad one, and Andre walked around the table and kissed me with a kiss so powerful and so passionate that I nearly passed out -- no lie (but that's not what this is about, that's for another discussion). I asked him if he had only ever been with men, and he said that he had been with women. I then made the question-statement, "Oh, then you're bisexual??"

    Andre looked at me and said that in Spain, they don't use labels like we do here. He said that anyone just loves who they love and don't try to label it.

    We've seen this in film and tv and books time and time again. Someone nearly misses an opportunity to love someone because of the label he or she has adopted and assigned to him/herself.

    So here is the rhetorical question: should we be labeling ourselves as gay, g0y, bisexual, straight, pansexual, sadist, masochist, etc, etc? Are we, in fact, limiting (better word - choking) our own ability to love another soul based on what we expect of ourselves through our label?

    Go for it, men, I want to hear your thoughts.
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    Oct 03, 2007 3:55 AM GMT
    Labels are only frightening if you aren't secure about yourself. I personally like them. I really despise this new thought that is pervading culture that goes something like "I am an undefined unique flower!! You can't put me in a box!!"

    In my view, everyone is very simple and quite easily "defined" and "boxed." So if you're gay, g0y, bisexual, whatever, each of those things has a meaning, and you should know if the meaning applies to you, or if you don't, well you can find out.
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    Oct 03, 2007 3:56 AM GMT
    You worry me, Rune.
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    Oct 03, 2007 3:57 AM GMT
    Why's that? icon_smile.gif
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    Oct 03, 2007 4:04 AM GMT
    The notion that sexuality is "simple" is a pretty breathtaking assertion. But then I spend a good bit of time listening to people's sex fantasies and there is nothing very predictable and orderly about them. In fact, I would say one of the functions of sexuality, or its imaginal component, is to draw people into "otherness."
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    Oct 03, 2007 4:06 AM GMT
    What the hell is g0y?
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    Oct 03, 2007 4:23 AM GMT
    Well as far as those labels go it's simple at least. The words have simple definitions. Are you attracted to dudes and girls? You're bi. Are you attracted only to same sex? You're gay. I'm not sure what g0y means but I think it's a subset of gay for people who are attracted to same sex but don't like things like anal sex or femmy stuff (I dunno, I'm just guessing here).

    So yeah sure, people can have complex sexual behaviors, but the whole point of labels is to make broad, sweaping generalizations, so that we can more easily understand stuff without bothering with useless detail. People invented taylor series and binomial expansions for a reason icon_smile.gif Higher order detail generally tells us very little! I'll worry about that level of detail when/if I get to know someone better, but labels work very well to start off icon_smile.gif
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    Oct 03, 2007 4:34 AM GMT
    Actually, no.

    The label "heterosexual" was invented AFTER the label "homosexual," which was invented to pathologize a certain sexual behavior. The labels and their contents then condition behavior.

    So, no, a label is not just a usefully reductive identifier. It is also a means of controlling identity, passing on normative values, etc. -- all against the horizon of a pathological assessment.

    I'm going to bed. My cat needs me.
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    Oct 03, 2007 4:47 AM GMT
    We use all kinds of labels, like "homosexual," "ecosystem," and "species," (to name a few) to help organize ideas. Problems happen when we start confusing our system of labels with reality. The labels are always approximate, at best. Reality simply is.
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    Oct 03, 2007 4:51 AM GMT
    "Reality simply is"

    Tell it to Roland Barthes. I don't have the energy right now for a linguistics debate but not everyone agrees that reality exists independent of its linguiustic description.
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    Oct 03, 2007 4:51 AM GMT
    That's a good point actually OW but I don't really think the label is at fault. Sure, labels can be created and abused in that way I suppose. But a label is merely descriptive in its nature. I guess there is reason to reject a label if it accumulates enough negative connotation like maybe the word faggot. But I don't think it's OK to reject a label because you feel you are "too unique" to be "boxed."
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    Oct 03, 2007 4:59 AM GMT
    A label has a history. When you were six years old and fondling your mother's jewelry and the word "homosexual" popped into your pointed head, it came loaded with all kinds of negative meanings. It is not an innocuous label without a history. Words are more than simple descriptors.

    The debate about the "gay label" is endless. On the one hand, it does box people in and that can feel confining. On the other hand, by providing a container, it identifies us as a community, without which we cannot accumulate political power to act on behalf of homos in the box.

    But there are good reasons for questioning labels, whether you find that process annoying or not.

    That is all. icon_biggrin.gif

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    Oct 03, 2007 5:08 AM GMT
    A particular word maybe icon_smile.gif So I'll agree with you that you can reject a particular word with a negative history, say for example the word faggot. However, what I meant, and should have perhaps made it clearer, is that rejecting the concept the word points to in general while citing your uniqueness is senseless. That is the annoying part. Regardless how many different words for homosexual I reject because I can't be "boxed" I'm still going to like dudes, so there is clearly a box there now isn't there? The "I like dudes" box icon_smile.gif And I'm in that box, regardless of how hard I bang my arms or kick my feet in defense of my uniqueness when someone points that out to me.
  • MarvelClimber

    Posts: 511

    Oct 03, 2007 5:39 AM GMT
    In this sense, I've found that guys avoid using labels because they don't want to be associated with the negative stereotypes society imbues upon that collective.

    As Americans we tend to view sexuality in predefined terms, rather than a spectrum. In this sense I think it's understandable not to want to label yourself when you do not fit into one of the predefined extremes. What do you call yourself when you prefer to sleep with men, have relationships with them, yet still find some women sexually attractive? Is the term gay accurate for describing such a person?

    I'm not sure if we can move beyond labels. I think we're more likely to redefine the existing and create more to describe the deviations from the extremes.
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    Oct 03, 2007 5:41 AM GMT
    "not everyone agrees that reality exists independent of its linguiustic description"

    Yes, I have a label for those people too...
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    Oct 03, 2007 5:46 AM GMT
    QUOTE:What do you call yourself when you prefer to sleep with men, have relationships with them, yet still find some women sexually attractive?


    That describes me and I call myself both gay and bi, depending on the context. Both labels apply icon_smile.gif
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    Oct 03, 2007 7:13 AM GMT
    I have no problem with labels... well, except that they tend to be narrow and tend to imply a certain set of characteristics that aren't necessarily accurate.

    For example: Your average person (at least, the ones I've met) hear the word "gay" or "homosexual" and immediately conjure up stereotypical behaviours associated with that term. Many people seem surprised that I'm gay, yet I know a lot about automotive mechanics and actually like working on cars. "But you're gay! You're not supposed to be into that stuff! You'll get all greasy and dirty." Hello? I LIKE greasy and dirty sometimes.

    Then there's the people that assume that "gay" means that I hate women but want to be one, that I dress in drag, wear make-up, know how to decorate a house, love show tunes and have a vapid, bitchy personality. Actually, I like women (just not sexually), I have no desire to change my gender or equipment, I don't do drag or wear make-up, I suck at interior decorating, I'm never vapid and only bitchy when provoked or when deprived of my morning coffee. I also love metal, motorcycles, and show tunes (and alternative, rock, pop, some country, classical, opera, etc)... and I tend to be non-conformist...

    The point is, labels aren't usually accurate when applied to people. The only label I like for myself is my name.

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    Oct 03, 2007 7:19 AM GMT
    BTW... WTF is g0y? icon_confused.gif
  • OptimusMatt

    Posts: 1124

    Oct 03, 2007 8:08 AM GMT
    http://www.heroichomosex.org/alliancenew.html is g0y...*shrugs*

    I call myself gay because it's easy; I don't particularly care to tell people the ins and outs of my sexual attractions. Most of pop culture is satisfied with labels because you're right - it simplifies things. But labelling someone...doesn't define who they are.

    I'm gay; I'm a grease monkey; I like pie. Each of these labels modifies the others, to the point at which the simplicity is lost, and the label becomes meaningless.

    Hence why some people don't like to be labelled; personally, as I've stated above, I don't care what you call me, because ultimately....it's meaningless.

    I. Am. Me.
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    Oct 03, 2007 9:18 AM GMT
    BioMattyhttp://www.heroichomosex.org/alliancenew.html is g0y...*shrugs*


    Ummm... ok... thanks for the info... *scratches head, shrugs*

    BioMattyHence why some people don't like to be labelled; personally, as I've stated above, I don't care what you call me, because ultimately....it's meaningless.

    I. Am. Me.


    Very well said! I agree completely.

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    Oct 03, 2007 9:45 AM GMT
    I'm late to the party, but you all had your party at friggin 12:30 AM on a worknight.

    Words shape our thoughts. That's the main reason English is such a great language (aside from spelling irregularities). Our vocabulary is rich with words from both germanic and latin languages, and we're not afraid to add new words whenever we feel like it.

    The absence of words to pigeon hole sexual attraction definitely allows greater freedom. Few people say "exclusively gay", but that is the implication when we use "gay". Synonyms like fag, queer, and cocksucker (my personal favorite) all imply exclusively gay. We have no word for mostly gay. Maybe "straight-curious" would do. "Bi-curious" could mean mostly straight, but it has connotations that are all about switching from exclusively straight to exclusively gay.
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    Oct 03, 2007 12:23 PM GMT
    runeA particular word maybe So I'll agree with you that you can reject a particular word with a negative history, say for example the word faggot. However, what I meant, and should have perhaps made it clearer, is that rejecting the concept the word points to in general while citing your uniqueness is senseless. That is the annoying part. Regardless how many different words for homosexual I reject because I can't be "boxed" I'm still going to like dudes, so there is clearly a box there now isn't there? The "I like dudes" box And I'm in that box, regardless of how hard I bang my arms or kick my feet in defense of my uniqueness when someone points that out to me.


    Nope, not that simple, although I think there may be some difference in understanding of what constitutes a "box." Usually a label is fixed and you are saying that you are gay one moment and bi the next -- which makes no sense to me according to the logic of your own argument (and your earlier def of "bi"). What is the difference in someone rejecting a label for a personal reason and your choosing to call yourself gay, even though you are....bi?

    Actually, by the logic of your argument, you would call yourself "straight" when you are being sexual with women, not bi.

    And having sex with a man does not automatically confer a "homosexual" identity, no matter how much YOU might like to put others in that box. Otherwise, as Kinsey noted, a huge percentage of the male population would be "gay."

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    Oct 03, 2007 12:48 PM GMT
    "I am not gay."

    - Larry Craig

    "HAHAHAHAHA!"

    - everyone else
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    Oct 03, 2007 1:39 PM GMT
    QUOTE:Usually a label is fixed and you are saying that you are gay one moment and bi the next -- which makes no sense to me according to the logic of your own argument


    Well, labels aren't exclusive. This is more of a semantics argument anyway which is pointless. If you go by the exact definitions I gave sure, I can't be both, but seeing as I highly prefer same sex over hetero sex with a ratio of something like 15 to 1, gay "approximates" quite well even if it isn't accurate for that last few %, so it is still a useful and highly accurate (to within a few %! ) description of me. Bi just takes into account the remaining few % but who really cares about that level of detail? Maybe Kinsey, but I'm not writing a journal article right now so I don't care about technicalities. On the other hand, the label straight would be off by over 90%, so clearly it's not an accurate enough description.

    As far as what labels apply, we can argue that just having sex with men does not qualify as homo. But again that's just semantics since different people define homosexual differently. Then I can just as well invent another word for the "I had sex with same sex at least once or more" box. And another for the "I like having sex with same sex on a regular basis" box. It's not the word that puts you in the box. The word just let's you know you're there. The problem with inventing words like that is if we make too many labels of that level of detail, the purpose of the generalized description is lost, making it useless. So maybe if I'm writing a journal article I'll worry about that, but if I meet someone who significantly prefers same sex over opposite sex, I'll lump them in "gay" and if they insist on technicalities, maybe I'll stick them in "bi" icon_biggrin.gif
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    Oct 03, 2007 1:48 PM GMT
    "Well, labels aren't exclusive."

    That's absolutely correct.

    I'm caucasian but I'm also african american. See how that works? All you have to do is lay claim to whatever label you need in order to bolster your argument. Last night, I needed to be asian. So, you know what? I was. I was trying to demonstrate how to use chop sticks. Being asian sure came in handy.