When it comes to the matter of sexuality, many people are still content to see the world in black and white. For some, labels are a comfort. It is part of the human condition to want to fit in and the best way to do that is to identify with a particular group of people and to assign labels to others in order to correctly interact with them.
It is true that the world is becoming more progressive in its views day by day and we still have a long way to go before we can fully comprehend the complex phenomenon of the human sexuality spectrum. But what is clear is that to give each and every one of us a label is an drastic oversimplification. Us humans are a little more complicated than that.
The truth is that labels are redundant because we change all the time. The first lady of New York, Chirlane McCray, has openly spoken out about the fact that she previously identified as a lesbian. She is now happily married to Mayor Bill de Blasio, but she still refuses to label herself as heterosexual or even bisexual.
“I am more than just a label. Why are people so driven to labelling where we fall on the sexual spectrum? Labels put people in boxes, and those boxes are shaped like coffins. … As my friend Vanessa says, “It’s not whom you love; it’s that you love.” (Essence)
Actress Kristen Stewart recently has been dating girls after her high profile relationship with Robert Pattinson, but she still refuses to label herself as a lesbian:
“In three or four years, there are going to be a whole lot more people who don’t think it’s necessary to figure out if you’re gay or straight.”
Last year there was a study conducted which indicted that only 48% of 13-20 year-olds identify as “exclusively heterosexual” compared to 65 percent 21 to 34 year olds. One third of the younger age group placed themselves somewhere on the bisexual spectrum compared with only 24% of 21 to 34 year olds.
The trend is clear. Every generation is becoming more and more open to the idea of sexuality as a spectrum.
An even more recent survey carried out by Ditch the Label, a UK based anti-bullying charity, found that 93% of young people see sexual exploration in a positive light and that less than half of young people identify as straight. 47% of subjects said that they did not use labels because terms like “gay”, “straight” or “bisexual” are too limiting.
The founder of Ditch the Label, Liam Hackett, suggested that the media has a large role to play in bringing about this change:
‘I think giving visibility to people who were once suppressed by society has sent a very positive and clear message: that sexuality is not something that is “dirty” or should be hidden away.’
In a recent interview with TeenVogue, Troye Sivan, revealed that the media played a big part in his coming out story:
“I don’t know what I would have done had I not found the Internet. I found a community of people who I really liked and who I felt got me. I remember the first time I ever watched footage of the Pride parade, or the first time I started discovering music. It formed who I am as a person. I always felt different in a lot of ways and didn’t really know how to express that.”
The prolificness of the internet has opened up the world to a new wave of gender fluid pop stars, authors and actors who are unapologetic about their refusal to fit into boxes and define others. Songs like Halsey‘s ‘New Americana’ and Troye Sivan‘s ‘Heaven’ celebrate the gay agenda in the context of a world where it is seen as unnatural.
“Without losing a piece of me, how do I get to heaven? Without changing a part of me, how do I get to heaven?”
This reflection of gender fluidity in pop culture has clearly had an effect on the mindset of the current generation of teenagers. People are starting to open their eyes to the idea of ditching labels which is a great thing if we want to form an accepting and inclusive society.
And it won’t stop here. There come a day when we as a race are ready to do away with the legacy of labels. That time will certainly not come in the next few years, but it’s an undeniable truth which is on the horizon and gives us something to strive towards.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)