Jo Boon opens up about her experience with labels in the LGBTQ+ community. Although none are perfect, some may be better than others.
For a long time I identified as ‘straight’, despite my general dislike for labels. However, I am beginning to question my ‘straightness’, and am increasingly drawn to the idea behind ‘pansexuality.’
The Oxford English Dictionary defines being pansexual as ‘not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.’ This makes sense to me. Whilst I am still imbued with subconscious biases, influenced by the patriarchal culture we all live in, I am slowly moving away from gender and sexual identity assumptions.
The less grounded I feel in being a cis- female and the fewer assumptions I make about another persons gender, the more being ‘straight’ makes less sense to me. The concept only works for people with clear cut gender identities. However, I am not one of those people.
Last summer, I experimented and had many ‘first times.’ In particular, I fell for someone assigned the gender identity of ‘female’ at birth. I think the label ‘gender fluid’ describes them best, although I am not sure they would ever label themselves. I have never been attracted to someone with a ‘female’ body before.
In many (most) ways they were very masculine, but I never thought about gender when I was with them. They saw themselves as a human being, and that is how I saw them. Hence, perhaps pansexual may be appropriate and I like the idea behind what it stands for.
However, it is still a label at the end of the day and I think most, if not all, labels are inaccurate. Broadly speaking, I still find myself attracted to people who are cis male, and I think this person from the summer may be an exception in part. I may not be sexually attracted to women, but I can be attracted to them if they are interesting and intelligent.
I am not sure if labels are a helpful contribution to our ability to communicate and express diversity or damaging in the way they shoehorn identities. Either way, I am much more comfortable with the ideology behind the word ‘pansexual’, than the restrictions around the word ‘straight.’