People like labels.  We put them on everything.  They tell us what it is, what it does, what’s in it, when it stops doing what it does, what it could do to you, and what to do if it does.  People really like labels when it comes to other people.  Too busy for the process of actually getting to know someone, we are presented with a list of labels.  Joe is: a carpenter, a diabetic, middle-aged, gay, a bowler, and a fan of both country music and the Chicago Bulls, and refuses to eat chicken.  Wow, that was easy.  I know everything there is to know about Joe!  The problem with this system is that I don’t know Joe at all.  I know a few facts about Joe that allow me to make assumptions, but I have no idea who he is as a person.  Considering how far off the mark assumptions can be, Joe is still a stranger, and it is now slightly off-putting how many specifics I have on Joe.

People don’t just like labels, we like to wear them proudly.  We emblazon shirts, buttons, jewelry, and cars with emblems and logos.  We put up flags and customize credit cards.  We put our labels on everything, and no one ever has to ask us a single question.  They already know who we are.  Right?

This weekend we went to a local Pride festival, and nothing brings out the human label makers like a queer event.  We want to know everything.  Are you straight, gay, lesbian, bi, genderfluid, trans, genderqueer, heteroflexible, homoflexible, pansexual, gender neutral, or a litany of other words we’ve drummed up to further isolate each other.  Not only do we insist on these labels, but we bicker about what each one means and whether or not anyone really qualifies.  Why is there this need to be so exclusive.  Aren’t we marginalized enough without doing it to each other?  This is the only place I use the term “it’s complicated” and mean it.  It is, and I have neither the time nor the energy to make a venn diagram of where I stand in my sexuality and lifestyle today.

So, I’m complicated…like every other human being on this planet.  I am more than a sum of labels.

Here’s another scenario.  There is nowhere more un-labeling than a nude beach.  You can look at someone at know very little about her until you talk to her.  You can forget your own labels and just be yourself for a day.  A whole beach full of unlabelled, unrestricted strangers is beautiful, but for some it can be uncomfortable.  For some it means having to talk to another person without knowing a thing about him.  It means opening up to the possibility that he may not have the same opinions, perspective, or interests.  He might have different experiences or ways of doing things.

This can be daunting for people who live solely in their comfort zones, but I love meeting new people, and I love finding out what they’re made of without  a label.  I don’t consider anyone a friend or confidante until she knows the unlabelled me.  The me that changes every day.  The me that grows and evolves, not subscribes to a label.  The me who loves to peel the label off others and see what’s really inside.

This is one of the reasons I write Pearls and Pentagrams.  I get a lot of questions for as being open and honest as I am, but there would be no reason to do this were I not.  At 28 years old (ahem…almost) I must not only be unlabelled, but also unafraid to show what’s really inside.  Otherwise I’m just another unmarked jar.

Go now…find out what’s really inside…

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