hundreds of geese flying as sun sets
Geese coming in for the night. October 2012. © Wanda Quinn

Note: Originally written July 13, 2012.

I was listening to CBC Radio’s “Living Out Loud” show this afternoon while driving into Ottawa. Today’s show was about being gay; a mother interviewing her son and chatting about when he first knew; a father coming out to his teenage daughter; and following a woman’s journey as she becomes a man.

What stood out most for me, while listening to the struggles each of these people faced – not just the person “coming out” but their family members too – is “labels”. I was struck by how we, as a society, label people, places, situations, and things. Listening to a mother ask her son if he likes “regular” guys too, I could empathize with her, attempting to understand what being gay was all about.

I recalled an episode on the Oprah Winfrey show where other types of sexual orientations were discussed and suddenly the world was educated on the variety of sexual orientations. The look of confusion on Oprah’s face (which, I’m sure, was also on many viewers faces as well) trying to figure it all out in her mind: so, if you are born a woman, but have always felt like a man then have a sex change operation and become a man, are you attracted to men or women? Are you now considered straight or are you gay? It’s confusing when it’s not part of your world and this mother (on the CBC Radio show) was trying to be supportive and learn about her son’s world.

Accept you as you are

I found it interesting that this young man is also an aboriginal and upon being asked if being a gay and an aboriginal was more of a struggle for him he explained how the aboriginal culture is to accept the individual as they are.

This brings me back to labels: As a society, it appears that it is important for us to put a label on things so we can judge and compartmentalize things to appease ourselves.

Why does it matter if someone is gay? Why does it matter if someone is rich? Do we have to say: he’s fat; she’s thin; he’s rich; she’s poor. Can we not just be who we are? Do we really need so many labels in society to lump us into good and bad?

I want to know people for who they truly are

I would like to live in a society where I am known for my essence, my spirit, not my weigh, height, looks or my label but for who I truly am inside. I want to know people for who they truly are, not whom they believe society wants them to be.




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