It seems like in an age where sex, gender and sexuality are constantly being shoved down the throats of adolescents, there is no escape from the inevitable questioning of one’s personal identity. Lurking around every new acquaintance, unseen pressures from both parties seem to boil until someone pops the sexuality question. Even if the question is never asked, people will always assume based on stereotypes, mannerisms and actions. Of the numerous times that the question has been brought to my attention, I have still failed to grasp an answer that I can fully stand behind. While labeling sexuality can have important implications in terms of personal identity, ultimately the negative consequences of being so strictly defined by the parameters of “gay,” “straight” or “lesbian” outweigh the human desire to categorize and belong.
While recognizing sexual and romantic attraction toward a specific gender is a monumental step in personal development, rushing to label and address those attractions to others leaves plenty of room for later confusion both internally and externally throughout friends and family. While it is generally a good idea, at least for the then and now, to inform your immediate family of your feelings, abstractly claiming a queer identity is far better than coming out as one specific thing. Why? The complexity of human attraction is not fully understood. Going with the flow of attraction seems to be the most stable method of identifying oneself. To conceptualize this, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community should move toward adopting the queer identity as an umbrella term for all sexualities. In fact, “queer” should not be the final step in this transition but rather a step toward just being yourself.
The catch to this proposition is human nature itself. Bound by observation, we categorize everything into groups in order to determine what we personally do and do not enjoy. And here is the problem: I might choose to identify one way, but say I meet someone whom I really like but doesn’t fit my predefined mold. Does that person know about me from friends or acquaintances? Has that person heard about my declared sexuality and become curious as to why I am making advances? With common culture dictating the innate presence of sexuality from birth, suddenly coming out again as different from the original declaration might seem strange and even hypocritical to the outsider. That is why it might be better to let whatever happens happen and not worry about conforming to a specific label.
Instead of focusing on the difference between individuals, the labeling of one’s sexuality or the mechanism of attraction between two individuals, you can make communication clear and abundant by promoting yourself and letting what lies within you become reality. The future of decision, the future of attraction and the future of defining individuals by mundane characteristics depends on this transition from obsession to a statement of “whatever happens, happens.” Of course, this means reinventing the individual and our notions about sexuality, which is no small step for a large group of people, but with enough support, it would be an easy transition within an entire community.
Signing off on another column of Queerview, I’m Vaughn Shirey — I’m a human and I like other humans, and that’s all you need to know.