This article explores the relative merits of identification--as an empowering tool, and as a divisive rhetoric.
What does it mean to be on the LGBTQ+ spectrum? According to some, this means to be apart from others; separated by the brain chemistry that leads to orientation. According to others, everyone is in it. Inclusive to the extreme, it subsumes its divisions into one banner of blending colours and orientations. But if, like a rainbow, this spectrum consists of distinct orientations that mix effortlessly into their similarly distinct neighbors, is there then a point to identifying at all?
No: on one hand, identification is in its most basic terms isolation. To identify is to pull apart from others, to select and bring forward and separate from the embrace of counterparts previously not parted at all. Labels, as we know, can be corrosive as easily as empowering. If I am straight sexually, does that mean I cannot have bi-romantic feelings? How much does sex, and sexual appetite, really play a part in love? After all, there are many orientations of love—sexual, romantic, platonic, to name a broad few.
All of these questions are predicated on notions of identifying as a ‘something’ on a spectrum as opposed to a ‘something else’ within its same purview. Humans are not binary creatures by in large, thus to be ‘a’ rather than ‘b,’ ‘c,’ or ‘d,’ is to restrict, rather than simply allow fluidity.
Yes: on the other hand, it is vital to see that people are not uniform creatures—we are different, and to acknowledge these differences allows for them to be discussed, celebrated, to bring together and to honour in being apart. The point of a spectrum is to resist simple defined categorization. Fluidity is and does exist, and to identify is to make known, rather than to make separate.
No, there is no ‘better’ way of being, identifying, being attracted to, or loving. There are different ways, however, and while none are better or worse, to paint them all the same is to whitewash their different beauties. Similarity, uniformity, these things are not equality. Equality exists in making known but not stating to be better, in allowing fluidity while acknowledging differences as states of being rather than qualitative traits.
Both positions present valid arguments. But, perhaps that is the point. The objective of a spectrum is to allow movement between. In that, there is also movement between two positions. To identify is to acknowledge one’s self, and to allow others the chance to do the same. It does not give more rights, because that is not to make equal, but it does give more empowerment to being one’s self. Furthermore, there are gradations of colour, or being, or acknowledgement, or identification that change depending on the situation and the persons involved. Be comfortable in how you are, see it, and if you are comfortable allow others to do the same. Life is not a performance; life is an experience. We all experience differently, and we all experience similarly, all at different times. Simply allow for yourself and others to exist, move, and to be as they are. The true key thing, in my opinion, is to simply be open.