Why Every Flag Matters

So you're gay?

That's what I hear every so often once someone knows I married a woman. To simplify things sometimes my wife will say yes to people who generalize this way. Sometimes, she'll even do it herself. Me on the other hand, I can't. With the array of gender, sexuality, and other identifiers out there to help us understand and properly perform our sexualities, I can't generalize for convenience. Maybe you're someone who doesn't like labels, who considers them another type of conformity and limiting on the mind having to fit inside of a description. Kudos to you! That is a bold, and valid stance, but today let's explore the effects of generalization.

Generalization of all sexualities as gay or lesbian is a problem. Not only does it misrepresent sexualities by grouping bisexual, pansexual, and more types of women as lesbian and men as gay, it also omits validation. When all women who are into women and men (bisexual), or date women but don't regard gender (pansexual), are considered lesbian, the term lesbian isn't a woman with strictly same-sex attraction anymore. Some lesbians are ok with a vague, blurry lined meaning let's consider them "fluid lesbians" but there are those who aren't, the "stable lesbians". So, why wouldn’t stable lesbians want blurred lines? And why shouldn’t we?

There is no simple answer, but there are a few scenario examples. If lines are blurred and all sexualities are lumped into the term gay/lesbian, when women say they're lesbian, men could still think they'll find them sexually attractive when that's inaccurate. Some women may claim to be lesbian while dating men when that's inaccurate to the strictly same-sex attraction definition. The solution to this is awareness of other sexualities, and there are many more than the few listed here. Someone who is heterofluid would date men and women because they move between attractions with preference to opposite sex. Bisexuals date men and women because they’re attracted to multiple genders. Pansexuals date both men and women being attracted the person regardless of their sex or gender.

If all else fails and you don't care to find a label to define your sexuality for yourself and others, ‘queer' is here. It’s the umbrella that covers all identities. Don't let yourself be generalized as gay if that's not how you identify. If people tell you you need these labels and you don't believe it, don't let yourself be restricted by words! Generalization can be an easy way out of an explanation. It can be easier on the mind, like wearing oversized clothes because you never found jeans that fit just right. Despite how easy it may be, generalizing carelessly is damaging to the different sexualities by potentially misrepresenting them, and potentially damaging to the person who doesn't know she can call herself something besides gay.