Who are we?

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    Feb 28, 2007 8:19 PM GMT
    Do this in remembrance of me.

    We live such splintered lives. Compartmentalized by categories and labels of vocation, lifestyle, interests, origin, background, ethnicity, connections, abilities and lack thereof, we spend our time negotiating ourselves into these common denominators. Sure, these compartments and labels help us to understand each other and smooth communication; girls back off when I talk about my bf. Also, when someone knows I generally fall for guys, as I am gay, they tend to ask me for fashion advice and ideas on how to decorate, which makes perfect sense as that is what it means to love a guy. But this practice doesn’t help us when we want to really explore the terrain of ourselves, what we want, and somehow get a handle on what our happiness is made of. Jesus said of communion, do this in remembrance of me. In other words, do this to put back the members/parts, to re-member, my life. I think that’s a key. Our community puts our parts together into a whole. For me it is the friends who are my family around the world, who know me intimately, that I am a total fuck up and a goof. And rather than judging, or giving advice I will never follow, they simply love and accept me, showing me that I am whole, even when I don’t act like it. They do this in remembrance of me.
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    Feb 28, 2007 11:59 PM GMT
    Let me try this again.

    What I am trying to ask is what do you think makes you you, especially if you have to use a label, like "gay," that really doesn't do you justice. Of course it is a starting point, but we get trapped in it as we trap others in their labels. I'm the gay roommate, the gay brother, the gay friend, the gay etc... But it is such a small part of my soul. These labels are like pieces of the soul, but we have to bring the together to make personal sense.

    Oh fuck it, this is getting too deep.
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    Mar 01, 2007 12:25 AM GMT
    As a gay brother, room mate, son, uncle, friend, tutor, coworker and coach, i realize that before someone even meets me they have some preconcieved notion of what i will be like. Im told then when im brought up in conversation, a hail of questions immediately follows, as is to be expected amongst a group of people who just dont get it. If anything, i encourage questions because it promotes awareness and communication and therefore comfort level.
    But as soon as anyone gets to know me, once they get past the whole gay bit, i make sure to emphasize that im not gay, im a person. Gay is part of me just as much as my being irish is a pert of me, and people catch on pretty quick. The people who dont, well, they dont last very long in my circle.
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    Mar 01, 2007 6:14 PM GMT
    Wow, a topic I did not expect to find on here. But pleasently suprised. I came out about two and a half years ago. About a year ago I got a letter from my mom addressed to me and my two straight brothers. She was up late one night after talking with my Dad and a family friend. She wrote, "One of the topics we discussed was the hetrosexual-homosexual life styles. After a lot of debate and discussion, the quote that stuck with me is that our society thinks of the words homosexual and heterosexual as nouns when indeed they should be adjectives. Heterosexual defines one of the characteristics of my womanhood, not all of me." The letter went on (and I can share, but it is more personal). The letter came at a very interesting time for me and as you can understand, the feelings that went through me on my ride to work were too intense for 7:30. I continue to look at this issue of what it means to have this part of my identity that is "gay". All I am trying to do is understand what it means to be me, a task in itself. I think we need to really explore the self and to value that. One thing that is very difficult for all, but especially for gays and lesbians because we tend to carry around this societal shame. We need to create a "gay identity". To steal a quote from Coming Out of Shame, "With a secure and self-affirming identity as a gay man, we are best prepared to freely encounter other gay men, secure intimacy in our friendships, sustain strong relationships that are loving and erotic, and create new forms of community as an emergent people." Just while typing... the thought running through my head is, "I want that."
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    Mar 02, 2007 9:51 PM GMT
    Nice topic!

    I agree that in life and certainly on line, we are labeled and defined by certain things that are just that; certain things!
    One should NOT define another by one or two single characteristics. It appears that race and age cause people to have a predetermine and narrow view of what that person looks and acts like.... how liitle we know from that.

    I certainly know that I have passed over people that were outside of my preset "ideal" but no longet do I do that and wish others would as well. How many times have you heard from someone that didn't know you were gay or know your age tell you when they DID find out something like "oh, you are Not like other gay men" or "you don't act and look like guys that age" They are surprised because they knew the REAL person BEFORE judging on race, being gay or age.
    Something to think about.
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    Mar 03, 2007 5:06 AM GMT
    If what you guys are saying is true -- that these labels are just that (i.e. labels that don't make up the whole person) -- then this gives me the confirmation that there is no real necessity to come out totally to my family or friends. They don't need to see the "gay" side of me. If I don't come out to them, then they don't have to label me as such. They just need to appreciate and understand me as a person, rather than a person with gay identity. Now, is there a contradiction? On one hand, we want people to come out and be comfortable in their own skin/identity (be gay!), yet the labels are equally inconsequential.
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    Mar 03, 2007 6:02 PM GMT
    I've got to agree with Claybud. I am Irish and I am gay. I am also artistic, 5'7", introverted and forty. But gay or straight, everyone has, on some level, to deal with the perceptions and sterotypes issued to them by the dominant culture.

    I was very fortunate when I came out to my family 12 years ago; there wasn't a moment when I doubted their acceptance and love. My boyfriend was not so lucky. I work in a nonprofit theater, and very nearly didn't get this job because a good percentage of the board of directors took issue with my sexuality. (One wonders what they honestly expected from theatre-folk.) Acceptance, rejection, we can't ultimately control how people respond to our particular minority status. But through education and example, we certainly can affect people's understanding.

    I live in a rural oil-drilling town. In fact, I seriously considered not taking this job because of my own prejudicial fear of potential hate crimes. So it was an unspoken but conscious decision with first time my partner and I first kissed in public. Instantly, a series of debates flashed through my mind: How affectionate should we be? Where does a PDA become a flaunting of our sexuality? Are we endangering ourselves merely by revealing who we are? And finally: if we can't be ourselves where we live, we might as well chuck it all and live the lie.

    In the end, it was just a kiss. But it set the tone for our conscious presence in the community. Where we live, I can't help being self-aware about the "messages" I may be sending as, for a truly surprising number of people, a member of the first openly gay couple they've met.

    Like all gay men, I defy certain aspects of the gay stereotype while embracing others. We are each of us unique. Yes, we all get labels, as we will forever. Racial and gender seteroypes were fought, fell out of fashion, were re-embraced and redefined, but very likely will always be a part of human life. GLBT stereotypes will also be with us... But the celebration of human diversity is, I believe, an attainable goal. As long as we celebrate it in ourselves.

    I mean, hey... kiss me, I'm Irish.
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    Mar 04, 2007 2:07 AM GMT
    Let me ask this question. What would you like to see written on your grave stone? It will be in remberance in you, for sure!

    Firstly, you are a human being. I think what counts in all of this is where is your heart and soul in everything you say and do. What is your intent?

    Be yourself and try your best. Some humans enjoy chocolate over vanilla ice cream. Who cares! Same with all the other things like being gay, goofy or whatever. It is part of your make up. What counts here is what kind of a human being are you?

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    Mar 04, 2007 9:09 AM GMT
    I love the thought that Proximus2 proposed, that labels are in a way meaningless and we should ignore them. If only we could. I am doing my dissertation on how we label students and then how that fucks up what we are trying to do with them.

    But the thing is we can't escape labels; this is how we work today.

    So I also love what TallGWMvBaller said about those who he meets personally being surprised in how he does not fit the label.

    I have many religious friends for various reasons. Some feel the need to tell me that I am going to hell or depraved. But they still want to hang out with me. So I am the label and I am not.

    We can't escape labels. But we are also not them, and they change constantly (Homosexual, as a word, is just over 100 years old, gay, less than that).

    What I like is the conversation about our identity. I think this is the most helpful of all for people to hear to build understanding, tolerance, and acceptance.

    I start with this label and build something altogether different. Each of us are.
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    Mar 04, 2007 4:19 PM GMT
    I didn't say anything really insightful. I just stated a situation that I am in -- and often wondered why there was a necessity to come out of the closet fully, even though it is strongly tied to my own identity. At the same time I didn't feel the need to tell others my sexual orientation, like I wouldn't tell them about my height, weight, blood type, etc.

    Anyhow, back to your dissertation topic on labelling students. Teachers often do that to get a 'better' grasp of their competencies -- "non-achieving student", "stupid", "slow", "ED", "dysfunctional", "special ed"... On one hand, their histories may be important, but why not start with what you see and experience, and work from there? Very often, teachers fall into the trap of treating students as a homogenous group, disregarding the individuals that make up its whole. We all come with life experiences and teachers would do well not to treat them as tabula rasa (a clean slate), but work with their diversities.

  • trebor965

    Posts: 200

    Mar 04, 2007 6:39 PM GMT
    i simply define myself by my name, and actions. no worries, no complications. coming out is such a silly thing to say. why should i have to come out, when i am not hiding.
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    Mar 04, 2007 8:00 PM GMT
    Religion is a very unfortunate thing. It creates all of the problems we deal with as Gay individuals; it also is the main cause of all the problems we see in the world.

    We have tried it for over 2000 years and this world we live in is the end result of this very dubious philosophy.

    The reason for the labels is so that we know who to hate easily and quickly without thought, who we are better then, who we can feel superior too. Christianity/Islam is perhaps the most evil philosophies ever unleashed on humanity as it threatens and bribes just like any terrorist and teaches to hate in new ways and then spreads like a rapant infection.

    When people wake up to the fact that they have a philosophy, then they can change it, when they accept the fact that the philosophy they run was not their choice but installed by their parents, society, etc.

    Most are running a program they did not even think about or choose, but it was chosen for them. It is because they fear not fitting in, or not being accepted by the tribe, rejected. This is the struggle we all have as Gay men. It is the same psychology that breeds the expansion of the erroneousness of religion. If you believed anything similar outside of religion, you would be considered insane and in need of psychiatric help, talking fire bushes, snakes and mules etc.

    Most people are religious for the same reason we do not want to be labeled Gay, what’s worse then a Gay? An Atheist. Heaven forbid that you admit that you don’t believe in talking Snakes and Mules, that women came from a rib and that the dead can be brought back to life and man can walk on water, and turn water into wine. Heaven forbid you should think it is a bunch of BS, as if the men 2000 years ago had greater insight into the nature and function of reality then we do to day.

    · Religion creates the need for these labels, as it is all a product of a lazy mind. Once something can be labeled it can be pigeon holed and doesn’t require additional thought or consideration.
    · Once we label Gay, we can say ALL gays are evil and then they require no additional effort or thought. Religion is very attractive to the lazy minded. The questions are all answered and no thinking is required.

    Religion teaches that all the questions are answered and because of the answers no matter who silly (Earth created in seven days and is only about 7000 years old, light separated from darkness etc,) we no longer question. Precisely why we struggle so much as gay men. 80% of America is lost in the erroneousness of religion and chooses anti-reason over thinking. Religion is the killer of thinking and reason. Once Faith and feelings becomes a virtue, no evidence is required. Evidence is not even a consideration as we have feelings as a guide, we have our labels and Gay = Evil without a second thought or evidence required.

    Evidence that you are a Good person and gay does not need to be considered. You have been pigeon holed by the bible. The same book that doesn’t have a problem with Lot’s daughters incestuously fornicating with Lot, their father.

    What gets me the most is the Family values movement in the name of Christianity, as Christ’s family values were to ditch your family and follow him. He had no value for family whatsoever.

    Funny how so many just pick and choose what they like from a book filled with contradiction and amazing imagination to support their hatred or whims. It is definitely the opiate of the masses, making others feel good and superior knowing they are saved and that they have the right religion of the 2000 or so choices out there and that they have picked the right God of the hundreds of choices available.

    They of course do not think or need evidence as they have faith. Hence the need for labels, Thinking is not a virtue in this nation, which is why our science scores are in the toilet. Feelings are the highest value and also the means to know reality, no evidence or thought required. We have the old book to do the thinking for us.

    All I can say is this same book supports slavery and also teaches you how you should treat your slaves, it does not condemn slavery, it teaches that women are property to be owned.

    When we see the program that has been installed for what it is, then we can start to wake up, raise our consciousness and take back control and not listen to irrational threats and bribes, false promises etc that religion professes. People can become thinking individuals, not just another sheep in the herd. Realize you have a philosophy, everyone does it is equivalent to the operating system in your computer and if you it is filled with contradiction and erroneousness don’t be surprised when your life is a big mess. How well does your computer run when it is infected with viruses? Religion is no different, it is simply a mental virus, with the infection being that reality can’t be understood or known and that we don’t even need to
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    Mar 04, 2007 9:38 PM GMT
    HotMuscleFun, I read what you wrote and it has such logic and coherency.

    How nicely, succinctly, and with such good reason did you sum up the whole religion thing.

    Strangely, while in most areas of our life we're taught to use logic, in religion there a complete leap of "faith", that is completely irrational.

    I concur that religion is probably the single most destructive force that we have in modern society.

    Your writing was very refreshing.
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    Mar 05, 2007 4:38 AM GMT
    As far as who I am is concerned, I'd have to go with the "product of my experiences" repsonse. I generally don't fall into any stereotypes I can think of and I'm pretty proud of that. I have to agree with musclefun and chuckystud about religion. It generally very devisive and "very attractive for the lazy mind". However, I think it this not neccesarily a problem with religion itself but a problem with people. People naturally get into groups and find justification to support their beliefs no matter how absured. Thats just human psychology. I know its sort of rediculus, but did anyone see the southpark with the Nintendo Wii. That sort of explains a lot. If we all turn to science and logic, people will still find a way to group up and hate each other based on whos logic is better. What needs to happen in an ideal world is that people need to reconginze these problems we have as a human race. Its nice to dream.
  • phill

    Posts: 117

    Mar 08, 2007 1:05 AM GMT
    good topic. about 4 years ago i wrote this because i didnt really know i was gay i just new there was an imbalance:

    I cant tell what’s real anymore
    Illusions assault my realities
    Breaking them apart
    Forming new truths
    I blame people, places, things
    Anything but myself
    I feel like a pin-up
    An image of an image
    No depth
    I open a trunk and pick out a mask
    Putting on my protection from hurt
    From reality
    Which mask will you have me wear
    To feel connected
    "He feels my pain. It must be valid"
    These emotions are to hard to let go
    Taking them all in
    No release
    No outlet
    A festering schizophrenia
    Leaving me drained
    To New truths
    New realities
    New Never Never Land fantasies
    Enveloping my psyche in comfort
    To help me sleep at night
    Lying telling me that its going to be all right
    Who Councils the councilors, I think
    as I drift off to sleep

    I understand the interesting take on societal pressures but they are felt across the board. Because we are in effect treading a new ground in which homosexuality is in the forefronts of the nation and worlds mind we feel disenfranchised. Our brothers from the past fought to be recognized as fully functional mentally stable adults who were people above and beyond being gay. Over time we have allowed rampant sterotypes in modern media that predate back to silent films to educate then people around us. It is easier to identify with an actor on the screen than with a person in real life. I think we as a community have allowed the societal memes to propagate as a way to backdoor our reality into main stream consciousness. If we are effeminen funny artistic people than we have a place in society. We are not the hidden "epeidemic" that creeps into straight neighborhoods and alters there perceptions potentially turning their children gay.

    I think we each owe it to the world to live proudly and search for equality but not just right but equality of ideologies. we are more than the sums of our parts and we do inhabit archetypes that are worthy of passing along in life. But we get boged down in the minutia of the moment of the excitement of comming out and finding an identity that we forget to continue the search for who we are.
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    Mar 08, 2007 3:08 AM GMT
    What a beautiful expression you wrote, Phillipeb. It reminded me of his poem by Juan Ramon Jimenez:

    Yo no soy yo.
    Soy este
    que va a mi lado sin yo verlo,
    que, a veces, voy a ver,
    y que, a veces olvido.
    El que calla, sereno, cuando hablo,
    el que perdona, dulce, cuando odio,
    el que pasea por donde no estoy,
    el que quedará en pie cuando yo muera.

    My poor translation:

    I am not I
    I am this one
    who goes beside me without me seeing
    who, sometimes, I do see
    and who, sometimes, I forget
    The one who stays, quiet (serene), when I speak,
    the one who forgives, sweetly, when I hate,
    the one who walks on where I cannot (do not),
    the one who will remain standing when I die.

    I had no idea this conversation would yield such substance. The religious, scared, or hateful are not the only ones boxing us in. I think we do it many times to ourselves. Its conversations like this, working out sometimes the obvious, that causes the real us to be glimpsed outside the labels. We do not stop at our skin, nor are we fixed and static. We are connected and are in constant, wonderful, dynamic flux.
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    Jul 24, 2007 11:31 PM GMT
    I am black and gay. (The two descriptors that seem to always come to my mind first, especially in self-identification.)

    I was an athlete and mostly recently, coach. :)

    I am an educator as well as professional/perpetual student.

    I am a son, brother, nephew, cousin, and friend.

    I thought I could call myself a nerd but would have that disputed in another thread (haha)!

    I am a (Solid Gold) dancer. I write, read, procrastinate...
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    Jul 24, 2007 11:35 PM GMT
    Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of (debatable) wealth and (not debatable) taste.
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    Jul 25, 2007 1:20 AM GMT
    I am Chuck. I am gay. I am who I am.
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    Jul 25, 2007 2:36 AM GMT
    Someone recently asked me:

    "What are you?"

    He apparently had wanted to know my ethnicity. At the time it just didn't occur to me to classify myself that way.

    Who you are is how you define yourself, your unpremeditated answer to that question. I had replied with my name; nothing else describes me as well.
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    Jul 25, 2007 3:11 AM GMT
    I missed the leap where the original post turned into a deconstruction of religion. Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think the original topic intended to bring organized religion into the picture per se, so much as quote a historic figure for the sake of using it as a vehicle for introspection.

    Big aside: I don't associate with any religion. And while I agree that organized religion is directly responsible for a vast majority of wars, death, destruction, and various types of physical and psychological damage in the world, I don't necessarily agree with a reflexive, defensive, and equally fundamentalist deconstruction that doesn't acknowledge that religion has -- whether we agree with any faction of it or not -- also played a role in organizing societies and establishing a large part of the socioeconomic foundation of modern civilization. This is a much broader topic that has been debated since the beginning of history (PhDs and college professors spend lifetimes exploring this stuff), and I don't think it was madapollo's intention to turn this into a religion debate. Back to the topic that I *think* was intended...

    No, I don't think it's never too deep. :) Granted some topics are better discussed at midnight in a cafe, or standing near the top of a mountain at sunset.

    I'm the self-labeled freak even among my very eclectic inner circle of friends, because I was fully conscious, and actively exploring what it meant to be myself, from before I actually acquired language skills. I also had my hands deep in my own clay -- something that is just as big a part of making me the present quirky amalgamation as were any hormones or chemical processes at various stages of my development. I'm 32 now, but I can still say that for the majority of my life, I have been concerned with far more important things than my sexual orientation. I still am. I’m gay. So what? Who cares?

    The terms that we seem to be referring to collectively as "labels" are used by other people, as part of an attempt to categorize experiences. "The gay guy" need not have any more significance in such activities than "the red flower" or "the sharp knife". Communication between any two people is limited by the tools that must necessarily be employed: words, sounds, gestures, etc. Issues occur when people have different sets of assumptions, opinions, or emotional reactions associated with particular labels.

    I wouldn't consider the labels "pieces of the soul" so much as specific attempts to "capture" data points -- like a multi-dimensional equivalent of plotting coordinates on a graph. Even that graph itself is an abstraction, a crude attempt to translate a naturally occurring phenomenon into some tangible concept.

    What makes ME me is a far more complex combination of traits and tendencies than I'm capable of expressing in words (or using labels). I’m constantly misunderstood and misinterpreted. I don't really try to explain who I am to other people outside of the basics that are necessary, because I always find myself limited by my ability to compress an abstraction into transmittable bits of information. The people who matter eventually understand well enough.