May 11, 2015

True Colors: The Danger of Homogenizing our Identity.

Photo: W H via Flickr

“I see your true colors thought they appear to be different
You should never be afraid because your difference is the difference
We live in a world where to be yourself is hard
And the way you really feel can leave you emotional scar
But stay strong, stay firm, and never back down
Being yourself is the only way to act that
(Like a rainbow)
Trust me I’m a fighter and a lover
But the only time I fight is to reveal my true colors”

~ Artists Against Bullying, song: Like a Rainbow

 

Recently, a colleague of mine at Elephant Journal, Alex Myles, wrote the article Miley Cyrus and the Gender (Head) F*ck, a brilliantly thoughtful message about the effects of labeling and what Ms. Cyrus is doing about it.

Here are a few poignant quotes from that post:

“Miley has spoken of her feelings in a recent interview, ‘I didn’t want to be a boy,’ she explained to Out Magazine, ‘I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.’

So, when someone announces they want to be free from labels and want to be ‘nothing,’ all the stories jump straight on the bandwagon of labelling her as something that fits into a tidy box! Stories are now going viral running with headlines such as ‘Miley Cyrus Genderqueer? Singer Reveals Her Gender Identity And Sexuality’ and ‘Miley Cyrus May Have Come Out As Genderqueer And Bisexual.’

The whole point in Miley stating that she doesn’t want a label is so that others who are not yet accepted can one day find the same freedom. 

I applaud the stand that this young artist is making. Alex is right, putting a label on someone who does not wish to be labelled is utter madness. I think that journalists everywhere could learn a thing or two from the way Alex presents important headlines; with sensitivity to the subject at hand.” 

But this is the world we live in, where brave and unselfish acts are taken out of context and sensationalized as something they’re not.

Why do I care?

Aside from my own aversion to what the printed word can do to destroy someone’s happiness, confidence and life, I have fought a long, hard battle (a lot of it internal) to be able to stand proudly as an openly bi-sexual woman.

Now, it’s true that normally what I do in my own bedroom is my own business. But, since I have a personal stake in what labeling and judging of lifestyle does to one’s reputation, I choose to make my preference public and stand proud in my truth.

And so I come to the point of my article: the danger of homogenizing our identities.

Ms. Cyrus wishes to escape the box that genders are categorized into, the limiting labels, the insinuations that one type of behavior or one gender or one color or one school of thought is better than another.

And we can hardly blame her, considering our social climate.

My hope and determination is that while we fight for equal rights and acceptance of all differences, we do not become a homogenized mass of one-ness that does away with our unique-ness.

As the song says, “your difference is the difference.”

To become nothing erases the beauty of the everything we are.

When I say that I am female, or a bi-sexual woman, or an erotica writing, planet loving, organic gardening, possum loving individual, I am not saying anything that needs explaining or defending. Neither does it limit me, because those labels apply, and I don’t see them as limiting in any way, I see them as empowering.

I’m not in a box that needs fighting out of, I’m claiming my strengths.

The labels I choose for myself are what define me and give context and meaning to my existence. They identify me as wholly me and no-one else.

The labels others use for me or their understanding of my labels are none of my business. I just don’t give a f*ck what others see me as. It’s what I see myself as that gets me up in the morning.

When we de-label ourselves to avoid conflict, we are feeding the fires of that conflict. It makes us invisible. And change will never happen if we aren’t living our true colors.

For myself, I choose to be different. I choose to stand firm in who I am. I am all those things I wrote, and more.

Having said all that, I have come through the difficulties of serious bullying at school, the scrutiny of people I once had as friends when I was of a religious state of mind, and the non-approval of others when I came out as a free-thinking, woman /man loving, status quo disturber.

I am no longer young and vulnerable. But others still are, and I understand the drive to fit in, to be free of the pain of ridicule.

When artists and journalists stand up for the misunderstood, I am hopeful that it will save some anguish and even more so, lives. But let us not be bullied out of our beautifully diverse identities.

I am only one. I can only do what one can do.

And that is to say, with all the courage I possess, vive la difference!

 

Author: Monika Carless

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Flickr

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