On Labels

by Jonas Weaver

This is going to be harsh.

But cisgendered, straight people like to tell LGBTQ people and society that if only we got rid of labels LGBTQ folks would be accepted more readily.

The argument goes as such: “If we didn’t have labels like “gay” then actualy gay folks would be accepted more readily. Like, I don’t have to come out as straight so why should they have to come out as something either? Like, I don’t get it.”

Problem: this works within a cis-heteronormative understanding of reality in which, of course, no labels need to exist. Because everyone is assumed to be cisgender or hetero labels are meaningless. If only those damn queers would use fewer labels then they’d be accepted.

But people don’t realize that saying this erases key differences and the necessity and power of self-definiton. It’s similar conceptually to colorblindness. Colorblindness functions as a seemingly poignant statement but fails by erasing difference. Additionally, by erasure it substitutes difference with a colorblind white washing. Same goes for LGBTQ people. Identities are straight and cis washed.

So, please, stop it.