Labels Belong on the Catwalk

Labels Belong on the Catwalk

I was delighted to reach the final 3 (out of 7000 nominations) in the category of Top Female Role Model at the National Diversity Awards ceremony in Manchester last Friday night.  I did not win but have nothing but admiration for the woman who did, Bekezela Nsingo,  CEO of The African Mothers Foundation doing great work educating the forgotten girls of Zimbabwe.  I was inspired by many of the winners who are all striving to embed a more inclusive society but I left feeling a tad confused and overwhelmed by the number of labels and badges now used to describe individuals within our gay community.  In fact it is no longer even called that, the correct terminology is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender).  I know this is not my world but I have many gay friends both male and female and I wonder if they even acknowledge the vast array of badges now in use and would question how this is helping us appreciate each other– throughout the night further segments of this community were recognised including transsexual people, genderqueer people, androgyne people, crossdressers and intersex people – wow!  Now I am seriously confused.

How does this encourage integration?  What happened to straight or gay?  Have I missed something here?   In my opinion, the more labels, the more confusion and the more alienation.  I do not understand any of these terms and after spending a night celebrating the achievements of a diverse society I am no clearer.  Anyone that knows me will confirm I am NOT homophobic.  I am tolerant and pretty inclusive.  At one point in the evening I was asked by a gay man (I think) whether I worked with LGBT and my reply was  ‘I have no idea, I do not ask individual’s to define their  sexual preference  before I support, coach, mentor or inspire them, it does not matter to me.’    Incidentally, nor do I ask them if they are a virgin, into swinging or partial to a bit of S&M!

I felt like I was walking through a politically correct minefield and it saddened me.  Moreover, I was uncomfortable asking questions or requesting clarification and the word ‘eggshells’ hit me in the face many times!  How can we promote tolerance and respect when we create a secret language and agenda?   I even debated whether I should write this blog for fear of unwittingly upsetting someone but I took a deep breath in the hope we could have an adult conversation, so when ya ready folks……..

5 comments:

  1. Fergus McClelland

    Jane, you always get it right. Why? Because labels are invented by people with agendas. I have some friends who are transexuals who have converted – transexuals who are halfway through the process, straight, gay (M or F) and others whom I nothing about when it comes to their sexual desires. HEY! I have a sister from Nigeria, close friends from Ethiopia, Pakistan, India, Several states of America, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Iran and … pant pant pant. Okay. Let’s slow this down a bit PLEASE!!!!!!! (Sorry about the shouting;) ). There are a lot of people in the world and they have a lot of different ideas. I agree with some, I disagree with others. I do not create labels for any of them. Heck, there are women I fancy (we are talking male-sexual preference here) of many races and just about every body height, weight and style there is! So what does THAT mean? No idea, don’t care, don’t give me a label – unless it is something like “Loves People – except the ones with too many labels and agendas” One thing that helps me is having friends like Jane – because if she can accept me, and if I can find a good friendship with her, I can’t be getting too much wrong.

    Now? I am off to right some wrongs!!!!!

    Reply
    1. janekenyon

      you go Fergus!

      Reply
      1. Fergus McClelland

        Hey, what can I say dear? My mother was a VERY serious asthmatic and had two best friends from her childhood in Yorkshire. One was profoundly deaf from birth and I had to learn to lipread to understand her. The other was a senior civil servant – oh, and my mother had a very close relationship with the minister of defence for india whom I called Uncle Krishna – who Stalin hated. A weird upbringing it was – a stereotyped one, it wasn’t!

        Powerful women are the best – even though they can be hell to be with!! 😛 Jane!!! XXX

        Reply
  2. Karen

    Language, labels if you prefer, is important to those involved. Native Americans prefer that to indians, eskimos are more correctly Inuit. It is important to show respect and if an individual prefers to be termed LGBT rather than gay then they probably have a very good reason for doing so. Since you were at a diversity dinner I’m guessing that all those there, “transsexual people, genderqueer people, androgyne people, crossdressers and intersex people ” chose to define themselves thus for their own reasons. Assigning labels to those who don’t want to be categorised is one thing, removing distinctions that people create for themselves is quite another.
    Let individuals group together under whatever label suits them. All that falls to us is to treat everyone with respect – including respect for their choice of label.

    Reply
    1. janekenyon

      point well made Karen! I am still confused though!

      Reply

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