Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Complexities Of Identity

As I mentioned in my last post, Disputed Mutability is one of the most amazing bloggers I've ever come across, and her recent series on her struggle to abandon gay identity is a good reason why I admire her. I'm not sure she's even half of the way through yet, but here are the links to what she's done so far: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Clarification, and Part 3.

I link to that series because I know that my own reflections on gay identity -- which I've been wanting to post for a while -- would probably fall short in terms of clarity. I have a hard time saying what I really mean sometimes, and DM and I agree on most things (although it should be noted that the series speaks about her experiences with gay identity, not exactly my own). Plus, she's simply a better writer. :)

But I suppose it couldn't hurt to throw in my own random thoughts about gay identity...I guess I can't make a post without stating some of my opinions. What's the point of a blog if I don't, right? ;)

For starters, I'm pretty sure that "gay identity" is not a common term outside of ex-gay circles. The concept might be (and could go by other names), but even then I think it can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. I have several gay friends whose sexuality is very low on their list of self-descriptive terms. They don't walk in parades or have any part in activism. They just date members of the same sex. Actually, a friend of mine has a saying to reference this: "Sexuality is who you DATE, not who you ARE." So, even though they are involved in what I believe are sinful sexual relationships, I wouldn't call them gay identified.

That's because I view gay identity to be something that is almost all-encompassing. When I think of the term, I think of someone who has "made a career," so to speak, of being gay. I take the term for what it literally should means: a person whose identity is centered around being gay. I don't think I have to describe that type of person. Most of you have probably come across them, but suffice to say not all homosexuals are what I would call gay-identified (and the homosexuals I know can become rather irritated with them, in a similar way that a Christian such as myself can get irritated with fire-and-brimstone preachers and conservative shock jocks).

Now, that's my definition. It's what I think of when I think "gay-identified." It is not, however, what I think of when I hear the word "gay." Gay, to me, is just another word for homosexual, and homosexual is merely anything that relates to people who like people of the same sex -- y'know, in a sexual way. ;) It does not hinge on intent or belief, and not necessarily action either (although for ex-gays who are married, such as DM, then I'll go ahead and say they're straight). Therefore, I think it's completely possible for someone (such as myself) to call themselves "gay" and mean nothing more than "I like dudes."

As you can see, I've rambled on and this has become rather confusing. But that could hardly be helped, since this subject, well, is confusing. Gay means different things to different people. So does "gay-identity." Attraction, action, and identity (the most abstract of the three) all blend together to make the different definitions, and since there is no standard, people get confused and arguments start. Personally, it would be great if people could do away with all labels of all types. But we're humans; we need to make things organized and neat and perfect, no matter how chaotic the situation actually is. Hope everyone understood this; I'll admit it's not my A game writing. But give me a break, it's Sunday and I'm tired. :)

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