AfterEllen.com Debate Team: The importance of labels

On May 5, publicist Howard Bragman will be helping a celebrity come out to the world. (I wonder if he can be hired for private parties.)  Many websites have been speculating who the closeted celebrity could be and I’m just hoping it’s a woman. And with the layered rainbow of LGBTQ community the celebrity might identify as gay like Ricky Martin, as a lesbian like Wanda Sykes or as bisexual like Anna Paquin.

I am a lesbian and it’s very important for me to identify and refer to myself as a lesbian, but others prefer to keep their sexuality unlabeled.

In January, Biggest Loser’s biggest hottie, Jillian Michaels told Ladies Home Journal, “If I fall in love with a woman, that’s awesome. If I fall in love with a man, that’s awesome. As long as you fall in love … It’s like organic food. I only eat healthy food, and I only want healthy love!” 

Awesome, she’s bisexual! Wait… she didn’t officially say she was bisexual, but doesn’t her statement mean that she’s bisexual? 

We recently asked Lilith Fair creator Sarah McLachlan how she would label herself (gay, straight or bisexual) and she told us, "I’m not big on labels. I don’t think about people as gay or straight; I think about them as human beings. Sexual orientation doesn’t matter. It’s about love, feeling love and giving love."

Does it matter what she calls herself?  Is it any of my (or anyone else’s) business if she chooses to label herself or not?

I preach the power of being out since most countries do not allow gay marriage, equal civil rights and many queer people are still get targeted for hate crimes. I believe we have strength in numbers and I think it’s very beneficial to let your family, friends and coworkers know that you’re queer because most people find it difficult to discriminate people they know. If two percent of the population claims to be lesbian, how much would that number increase if people were required to labeled themselves?

AfterEllen.com’s tagline is “Visibility Matters,” but many don’t feel the need to label themselves. Do you?

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