SEXUALITY & GENDER
By Alice Chesworth
(From Minus18’s OMG I’m Queer)
All people have their own sexuality. Whether that’s straight, gay, queer, bisexual, or something completely different; each person’s own sexuality applies only to them.
Now you’ve probably heard the old saying: “labels are for cans of soup.” Basically, that sexuality can’t really be defined, and that for some people words can’t REALLY describe what you’re feeling. For example, if you’re a guy who likes girls. But you like the look of other guys in the change room, what would you call yourself? Straight? Bi? Bi‐curious? All those labels come with these predefined meanings – and sometimes they can just be pretty confusing.
We use labels to describe absolutely everything in our lives; it’s basic English. So it shouldn’t be a big shock when we try to put labels on our sexuality as well.
When I filled in my About Me on Facebook I said I’m: A girl, 19, a little bit punk and a little bit goth, a student, blonde (for now), feminist, bisexual and atheist. But the list could have gone on for ever.
When you label your sexuality though, people have certain expectations about what that means. If you’re a gay guy then some people automatically assume you should be flamboyant, into fashion and gossip, know all about Gossip Girl and be all like OMG‐THAT‐SWEATER‐IS‐SO‐HOT!
Well, that might be the case. But that’s not because of being gay. Labels don’t dictate who you are; you use them to describe yourself.
I use the term bisexual to describe my own sexuality. Basically, I like dudes and dudettes, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Some bisexuals are more attracted to one gender than the other, some don’t care about gender at all.
Others, like me, find their sexuality is fluid, and changes over time: sometimes liking guys more, sometimes liking girls more. Looking at sexuality as something that’s fluid and always changing is pretty cool. So many people see it as being black and white – you’re either gay or straight. But it’s not always as simple as that, and each person has their own individual sexuality.
Sex and gender are two other characteristics we tend to label. Sex is your physical aspect (i.e. your wibbly wobbly bits) and gender if how you feel in your mind in terms of masculine and feminine. Sometimes, physical sex and gender don’t match up, so you could be born with lady bits, but feel quite masculine.
Obviously gender isn’t always that strict, we all know girls who wear pants and spit on sidewalks, and boys who spend hours doing their hair every morning. Your gender is a way of expressing yourself.
Some people identify with aspects of both traditional genders and feel they are ‘genderqueer’, ‘gender neutral’, ‘inter gender’ or feeling like are another gender altogether. For genderqueer people, what they call themselves is very personal and entirely up to them.
Other people feel connected to the gender that doesn’t ‘match’ their physical sex. This is called being transgendered. Some people have a ‘fluid’ gender – it changes over time. My friend has warned me not to be surprised if one day she rocks up with a shaved head and asks to be called Bruce. But you know what? That’s completely up to her.
What you label yourself is up to you. It’s the word that YOU feel suits you best. One of the words I love is ‘queer’. Using it to describe your sexuality or gender means that you know that you’re a little bit different, and what the hell is wrong with that? Embrace it!