Let's talk about labels. Words like heterosexual, straight, bi-sexual, gay, homosexual and queer are labels that society uses to define and identify us by our sexuality. We then use them to identify and define each other.
The problem is that the labels define us too narrowly and are often based on stereotypes and inaccurate assumptions. The truth is that our lives, our realities, our sexualities, our behaviours, our thoughts and feelings and even our politics can be, and often are, fluid and variable and are not easily defined by a single, simple label.
If, however, we define our sexualities as more than an act of sex, and include our physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual selves in relationship with others, we begin to see that the limited labels don't work.
The greatest problem with sexual labels is that they limit our understanding, acceptance and ability to relate to others with different labels. The labels, and their assumptions, separate and isolate us from each other. But more than that, the labels are used to engender fear and hatred of those whose labels are different to our own.
The prime example is homophobia - the fear and hatred of gay men. The fear and hatred are not based on reality but on the power, myths and stereotypes of the labels. The fear and hatred can be so powerful that even gay and bisexual men can be homophobic.
This area of the site (labelled Gay and Bisexual Men) can provide an opportunity for all men to discuss the limits of their labels. It can provide a forum to expand our definitions of sexuality, to overcome our fear and hatred, and to end our separation and isolation. It is a chance for all of us, regardless of our sexual label, to begin to understand each other.
Norman Dean Radican is a gay man, a single father and a political and social activist in both the gay community and in the men's movement. Norman maintains a counselling practice for men who have issues around sexuality or masculinity and also works as a men's health educator. He enjoys walking on the beach and spending time with friends, male and female, gay, bi and straight.
Becoming a Man
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