Woe Is Me! “I’m Queer, But Don’t Know How to Identify. Do Labels Matter?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“While I’m sure that I am queer, I don’t really know what to identify with. Sometimes I feel like I’m an aroace (aromantic and asexual), then minutes later I feel guilty because what if I’m trying to occupy a space in the community or trying to fit myself into a box where I don’t belong? Are labels important in order to feel valid?”
— Is there a “right” box?
AT: This one speaks to me so hard. Last couple of years I’ve grappled with similar questions. Am I queer? Was I masking my sexuality and my whole personhood my entire life? Am I actually lying to myself to try to find meaning? I thought I was trying to occupy space that was not meant for me but I have finally come to realise that there’s no single way of being. Being queer doesn’t mean you have to “come out” and show it to the world. Sometimes it can happen in silence as well, besides, how we identify and what we identify with keeps changing throughout our life. Identities are not as static as they make it seem so I think it’s really okay if you don’t feel comfortable with labels.
I have accepted I am queer but don’t truly have the courage to deal with having to come out and explain my position to people in the community straight or otherwise and I do so only to the closest of people. It often doesn’t matter so much to them. I think there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to label yourself.
DR: Well, “queer” and “questioning” are valid labels, too, and you could use them; whether they’re important to feel valid, I can’t tell you. What I can assure you, though, is that it’s perfectly alright to feel like you need a label for your queerness to be valid — even though it’svalid, irrespective. Having said that, not being able to zero in on a label that you feel describes you aptly, doesn’t make you any less queer. To each their own, at the end of the day. I have a suggestion for you: if you spend some time on queer subreddits, you’ll come across many others struggling with woes not too different from your own; perhaps, their perspectives will bring you some respite.
AS: As I’m sure you already know, you’re not alone in feeling this way. Whether or not you want to label yourself is completely up to you. If you find that “queer” suffices, then that’s enough. You don’t need to prove your queerness to anyone, nor does your current difficulty in finding the “right” label invalidate your identifying as queer. Point being: the question is not whether labels are important, but whether these labels matter to you? And that’s something only you will be able to answer.
RN: I personally don’t believe that anybody is entitled to validate your identity except for yourself. If you identify as queer, you are — and asexuality, by virtue of not being the normative identity, is queer too. You just don’t have to be loud about it.