The topic of labeling came up in several different collaborations, and was one on which I have many opinions.
You Don't Have To Call Me Darlin' *
A Gay Opinion 6/23/00
By R.A. Melos
Labels tend to make life so much easier for many people with little imagination, but they are limiting. I'm tired of limitations in my life. I am so much more than gay or Pagan, and I want the rest of the world to know it as well, and to respect me for my sum total.
Yes, I love to write, and recently most of my writing has taken on homosexual and pagan overtones, which has made some of my friends uncomfortable because these are "personal" or "private" things not to be discussed in polite society. Perhaps it is this attitude alone which has made me more outspoken on metaphysical and homosexual issues, weather they be tarot cards or same-sex marriage.
I'm sure many people would be more comfortable if I talked about the latest book I've read, being a voracious reader, and they usually do want to know about a great new book or article, until I mention authors like Rita Mae Brown, who is one of my favorite authors, best known for her book on coming out called RubyFruit Jungle. Or, I could tell them about this great slash fiction story I read on the net (slash fiction is a type of writing dealing mostly with same-sex situations). Once they hear this, or about a great new book on "The Craft", they tend to change the subject.
I don't mind subject changes, and am very eager to talk about music. I love Jimmy Buffett, Patsy Cline, and Meatloaf. In fact, just about any type of music interests me. I love rap, with the "Slim Shady" song (even if Eminem and I are at opposite ends of the political spectrum), or most Melissa Etheridge songs, some gospel (most gospel music has pagan overtones to it), or jazz, R& B. You name it, I usually like it, even show tunes.
If people aren't in the mood to talk music, we can talk films. I did want to see "Boys Don't Cry", and I'm waiting to see "The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me", and the classics like "Boys In The Band" or "Where The Boys Are" are always good for a rental.
I must admit I'm not much of a horror film buff. I don't need to go to the movies to be frightened. I can stay home and watch the news, with stories of man's ignorance and intolerance of one another, and his inability to allow one another to truly live their lives as they see fit without trying to control each other, if I really want to be frightened. Although "Slumber Party Massacre", written by Rita Mae Brown, is a fun horror romp.
I do love to watch tennis and basketball, and not only because you get to
see guys in shorts. Although, most of my heterosexual friends aren't all that
sports oriented. Their interests lie in making money and the stock market. Since
I work in real estate this conversation is usually the main staple of discussions,
and I am very knowledgeable, but who wants to talk about work all the time?
Yet, with all these other interests, heterosexual society seems to concentrate on my homosexuality. Perhaps, if heterosexual society didn't object to my sexual preferences so much, I wouldn't be so vocal about them.
I think what labeling comes down to is making heterosexual society comfortable in being able to identify me, so I can be pigeon holed as a warning to their young (as if I wasn't the product of straight society) not to accept me or turn out like me. I might be a nice person, but heterosexuals really don't want their children turning out like me.
Once I was outed by my cowardly ex-lover, who then resumed living his heterosexual life of lies, I felt compelled to make sure everyone I met knew my label.
So, whether you call me a Realtor, a writer, a music lover, a film buff, or a Pagan, please make sure you include the word "G-A-Y" somewhere in there, so heterosexual society never forgets its need for labels, and is constantly reminded by my presence. For every out gay male, there are one out of three children born who will also take the "GAY" label at some point in their lifetime, and wear it as a badge of pride, no matter how much heterosexual society would like it to be otherwise.
The next time you feel the urge to pin a label on someone, think first what labels you choose for yourself.
*The title is taken from the David Allan Coe song "You Never Even Called Me By My Name".