Speaking to a young person currently engaged in a same-sex relationship recently, we learned that it is her opinion that calling oneself Lesbian or Gay or Queer or anything other than just ‘a person’ is outdated. “Nobody needs to Do That Anymore” is her view. Quite likely, among her friends in Greenpoint & Williamsburg, Brooklyn, there IS no need; perhaps these young folk have grown up in a liberal-minded arena in which they have not had to identify themselves as LGBTQ, nor have they been labeled from the outside as such, for no one they encounter has had a judgement of them. Honestly, we are so happy that this is so. However, we were not glad to be looked upon as archaic because we DO choose to wear a named identity, to identify with LGBTQ Community everywhere.
There are two parts to what we want to speak about on this topic; we will call them: Lest We Forget, and What Do We Want, Really?
1). Lest We Forget. This is where we, perhaps dating ourselves/perhaps not, want to express our feeling that, though there is healing in the fact of an existence of a place/time in which it is not necessary to identify as LGBTQ, there is also a loss. It seems almost inherently dissing, in choosing not to name ones sexual preference/identity, of all those who went before us; What of our history/herstory, what of the Butches and Queens of Stonewall (and of course other uprisings – we use Stonewall as a blanket honoring of all fighters of the fight, for it is an identifiable historic event), the many LGBTQ warriors of heart and spirit, body and mind, who have fought – some fought and died – for us to have the freedoms we do have today?
Identifying as LGBTQ does not make one outdated – it makes one of – or at least honorers of – the warriors who paved the very streets that now allow one Not To Need To Do That Anymore. . . had those who went before NOT spoken up, NOT named themselves (and thus found others like ourselves), NOT marched and written and spoken created community and fought and cried and laughed out loud – OUT loud, there would be no place in our society where one could find oneself free to be LGBTQ without wearing a name for it.
And so it seems to us that this un-naming can only be right so long as the un-namers hold the named with utmost respect and appreciation, and with no disdain for or judgment of those of us who, Proudly Out, call ourselves any of the many names we have created/reclaimed/embraced that define our beautiful and shining sensuality, sexuality, sexual preference, and/or sexual identity.
2). What Do We Want, Really? Here, we want to ask the question (which is not a new question, but becomes relevant once again in the context of this post): Do we really WANT full assimilation into mainstream society? Yes, we want respect for who and what we are, yes, we want equal opportunities of all sorts, yes we want to be welcomed where we go and do what we do; however, do we truly want to give up the wonderful community we, collectively over so many decades, have created for ourselves?
Full integration into mainstream society to the point of Nobody Needs To Do That Anymore removes our identity as LGBTQ people – an identity which has given so many of us so much. . . Not to mention that most of us who DO identify as LGBTQ are HAPPY to do so! We enjoy our identity and would not want to be considered anything but! Kind of like saying “Hey, no need to be colorful, no one cares if you are a color so why not be some shade of gray like everyone else?”
We say “We are most delighted to be RAINBOWS! Especially when everyone else is gray!” Are some of today’s youth missing out on this?
Decidedly, to name ones identity or not is a very personal choice. We don’t dispute anyone’s right to choose gray. We just don’t want our joy in choosing Rainbows to be dissed either.
Finally, we want to point out to the ‘grays’ that though it may be so in small areas of certain places in our world today that one is free to just BE who one is no matter whether gay, straight or otherwise, this is NOT so everywhere. We feel strongly that it is still – and will be for some time to come – an act of power and courage to Come Out; to oneself, to ones family and friends and in the greater world. It is our opinion that until everybody, everywhere, can walk their streets, flying whatever color flag they choose, in safety, love and celebration, Coming Out is an important political and personal act of warriorhood; we look forward to a day when all streets are made of such love, and we hope that Coming Out can always bring the sense of joy and pride it does for so many of us today. Until then and always, peace unto the grays, and courage unto the Rainbows!
We Love You All,