A woman, not a label

Growing up in Twin Falls, Idaho, I had no words for people who loved differently from the model we considered “normal”. Not that all the families around us led Leave-It-to-Beaver lives. My own nuclear family consisted of a single mother, an absent father, a resident brother, and four half siblings who didn’t live close enough to feel like family.

Still, I would have been embarrassed and shocked to learn that our circle of friends and relatives included those whose sexual identity was different from the assumed pattern. That two men who shared a house or two women who were best friends and constant companions might be something more than pals never crossed my mind.

I’m grateful I no longer live in such a narrow world. Sexual orientation is a fundamental part of our identity. Having to keep it hidden is like being required to wear a mask in public.

Fortunately, I’ve found a circle of friends who consider other things more important—like trust, honesty, shared interests, and good times. Sexual orientation isn’t on the list. So this poem really hit me. It reminds me that even those of us who believe we see beyond labels can be unintentionally cruel. Language is important, and it can hurt.

As the poet says:
          I’m not ashamed by any means,
          But I have dreams
          Of being seen as anything
          Other than just “the lesbian”.

You’re right, Michelle. Thanks for the reminder.

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5 comments for “A woman, not a label

  1. Tess
    December 29, 2010 at 11:43 am

    you speak for / and to so many more Michelle; and that is important and thank you Cathryn for sharing the gems of wisdom you find

  2. Tess
    December 29, 2010 at 11:45 am

    ps: I love the contradiction of how the thing that is the most important and central is also the least and most irrelevant in the very same moment…

  3. December 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Beautifully said, Tess. You’ve captured the heart of Michelle’s poem.

  4. peggy
    December 31, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    in each family there is always one member that their lifestyle is
    different by standards of so many other people when you look into the
    eyes of a child their specialness is already a part of the soul, all we need to do is love, spoil, revere that child and by god be nice…
    because someday that child in your family just might be the one that will choose your very own last place of residence, and we can not go back and expect too many more favors than you probably already have had. love from the get-go life is better always

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