Our culture loves categories, but what happens when you don’t fit into any of them?
Labels scare the bejesus out of me: “masculine,” “feminine,” “queer,” “flamer.” The rhetoric some people are so used to saying out loud makes my skin crawl. For others labels can be gratifying or encouraging, but for me it seems to limit my potential.
I’m not masculine, I’m not feminine, I’m not a flamer or a party boy. I seem to float in the middle of the spectrum with no direction where I’m “supposed” to fit in. In a world that relies heavily on labels, I find myself struggling to meet their criteria.
The word “fluid” has come up many times with me. My friends tell my I’m undetectable or non-conforming; while I’m sure they mean well I can’t help but think they are adding to the issue.
Gay guys don’t come in one precise package, but as humans we enjoy structure. That’s part of the reason why we’ve survived for so long. The relationship between intuitive and intellectual logic has created a system, originally meant to ensure survival, but now segregates us.
The digital age has invented tools for us to ensure separation, too. Grindr has tribes, which allows users to select the type of body type they enjoy. We also have taken it upon ourselves to nitpick our men shopping bag: “No Asians,” “No Blacks,” “Masc only,” “No Fems,” “Married only.”
We’ve turned ourselves into products, and what do all products need? A category. We can’t help but look at each other and make a judgment, but a judgment nowadays isn’t how it used to be. It’s no longer about wondering if he/she is a nice or safe or good person—now we judge each other based on a cultural system.
There is tremendous pressure to live inside a box. Everyone else on the planet is, so why not I? The truth of the matter is when you live inside a box all you see are walls. You’re never going to see what’s really out there, hell, you’re not even going to see what you’re truly made of.
He’s feminine, that means he’s a bottom or that he’s promoting a “bad gay stereotype.” He’s super masculine, which must mean he’s a top and probably has internalized homophobic tendencies. He’s this, he’s that, we make calls based on what we’re trained to believe—but by whom?
As someone who doesn’t fit into any of these labels, life can be insecure at times. But why do I need to describe myself in such a way? Since when has life been stagnant? Everywhere I turn gay guys are becoming comfortable with maintaining a self-prescribed category.
Life is about discovery. We are never the same person we were five years ago. That’s the beauty of our journey.
Who creates the labels? Who decides the framework we all use to judge each other? Where does it come from? It comes from us.
We can either choose to be a piece on a game board or decide to make our own rules: either option decides our fate. As someone who likes to decide my own fate, it’s really hard for me to call myself anything but David.
I refuse to think there’s a spectrum of “type” that may inhibit your perception of me. Instead, I choose to make my own path. Call me nuts, but it seems to be working thus far. Damn me to hell if I let you decide who I should be.