Tag Archives: labels

The Post-Label World

Coming out and identifying as a specific sexual orientation has always been important to most LGBTQ people.

There is, without a doubt, a certain level of comfort knowing there are more people out there who, just like me, identify as lesbians. Lately, we have seen a shift in the way society sees labels and even on how some people choose not to label themselves. Is modern society starting to view labels as something outdated and unnecessary?

To label or not to label

In previous decades, there was almost an urgency to find a suitable label for our own sexual orientation. A way to tell the world who we are and who we love, proudly. And coming out was the last step of this whole process. This identity seeking journey was (and unfortunately in some places still is) often dangerous as LGBTQ people were seen as abnormal or unnatural.

 As generations grow older and so do views on sexual orientation, we are now experiencing an openness and acceptance like never before. It’s ok if you are gay, it’s ok if you are a lesbian, it’s ok if you are asexual. So why keep carrying the weight of a label on our shoulders?

I am not saying that 50 years from now no one will identify themselves with a specific label, I am however saying that there won’t be a necessity for that. Nor will there be the necessity to come out.

And why should we label ourselves? I can’t deny I have had crushes on men, but I still identify as a lesbian. Should I identify as bisexual or pansexual even though I no longer feel attracted to men? Am I less of a lesbian because of it? No! And I am sure there are a lot more people who have the same questions I do, and who decide not to label themselves.

Do you think we will ever live in a label-free world or are labels here to stay? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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10 Things To Keep In Mind If You’re Questioning Your Sexuality And/Or Gender

LGBTQ+ voices, communities and public dialogue, often focus on issues that concern specific identities (the more widely accepted and talked about the identity, the better).

This is absolutely necessary, but what we need to remember sometimes is that not all the people who have reached that point of sharing their experiences with others, giving useful advice about coming out, relationships, advocacy and support, had their identities, preferences and desires figured from the very beginning. In fact, most LGBTQ+ youth go through a questioning process.

That happens not only because it is absolutely normal for people to reevaluate their choices as they go through different things or to experience situations in their lives fluidly, but also because we live in a hetero-cis/normative society that sets heterosexual, cisgender existences as the default, so that everyone else might first have to go through a process of doubting, shaming and dismissing themselves and their feelings as if they’re something that “can’t be”, that doesn’t make sense, something that’s just in their minds, or something they can’t easily validate just yet. But that’s alright.

Think of that: have you often heard people around you worrying whether they might be straight, or questioning their sexuality because it occurred to them that heterosexuality may be a possibility? I don’t think so.

Society’s standards for us to initially be heterosexual (and sexual, for that matter), make it evident that people are most likely to question this given sexuality when they feel it doesn’t explain their feelings and experiences. A paper published in the Journal of Sex Research shows that in a survey answered by women who identified as heterosexual, most of them were deliberate in their answers and had come to a conscious conclusion about their heterosexuality “after contemplating alternative possibilities”.

Such effects are even more visible in questioning our gender. Our society is strongly gendered, aligning bodies with preferences with behaviors, and limiting us within a binary system of only male and female that we are assigned at birth without even having a concept of what gender might be. We grow up all our lives being taught that we should do X things, behave a Y way and make Z choices based on our genitals and these lines can truly be drawn very strictly around us.

That makes it even harder for us to question whether the gender we have been assigned at birth does not feel entirely right for us, since questioning even gender norms, let alone gender identities, is not something that society encourages.

For non-binary questioning people things get a lot more complicated, since genders that fall outside the gender binary are outright invalidated by public discourse.

So what should a young person expect when they’re questioning? What should you keep in mind when you’re unsure, or experimenting about your sexuality and/or gender identity?

What should you ideally be demanding other people around you to do in order to make you feel more comfortable and at home during this process – that might either lead to concrete results, or may never end up doing so?

1. Define in your own words.

I can hardly remember questioning my sexuality though I’m sure it kind of happened – the thing is that it did happen but I accepted the change too quickly, so my questioning period wasn’t that long. I identified as straight until, during my adolescence, I started getting strong crushes on female celebrities. The explanation was pretty simple: having grown up in a homophobic and biphobic environment, I was homophobic myself… until I wasn’t.

Reading gay fanfiction about my favorite characters was what actually helped me stop being a bigot, and that was the solid and concrete turning point where I woke up and realized that my crushes on women were actually crushes, and not simply fangirling on celebrities I admired. I came to accept that I might, after all, have experienced a crush or two for girls in real life as well, and boom! There was even a pre-existing word for it: I was bisexual.

Soon, after I heard about non-binary identities and met non-binary people, I shifted more towards identifying as pansexual, as I realized that there weren’t only two genders and that people’s gender was not a determining factor for me to feel attracted to them.

It was not that simple, however, when I recently started questioning my gender, and I will say more about it later. When this started taking shape in my mind, the first thing that helped me was to try and put into words whatever messy raw material I possessed at that moment; the very fresh, blurry feelings that you might not yet be able to distinguish, but you can say a thing or two about them.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know exactly how to describe everything that you’re feeling, or if you’ve never heard of people with similar experiences to yours before, or even if you have – but the experiences you’ve heard of are slightly different than your own, or were dealt with differently. No one else can tell you how to feel, or experience things, simply because no one else feels and experiences things for you, without you. Only you know what’s valid for you, and even if you don’t know for sure what works and what doesn’t.

Do this for you: take your time to define yourself and not let anyone tell you that “you’re not gay enough, trans enough, – something – enough”, that “it’s all in your mind” or that “it doesn’t work this way”.

2. Put a label on it – or don’t.

Honestly, in this whole questioning process this is the only rule: do shit your way. I’m all for labels and yet I feel like things are still too fresh for me to grasp everything around the term “trans”, even though I might not be as cis as I always thought, even though trans is an umbrella term used to describe everyone whose gender and the way they experience it doesn’t entirely match what they were assigned at birth. When something is new for you, you might need time to feel like you’re in clothes that fit without it all being too disorientating.

Labels are really important if, by naming your identity helps in reminding you that it’s valid, that it exists, and that you can be included in communities. Labels, however, can also feel limiting if you see them as definitions that don’t quite define you. You don’t have to use them if they tend to limit you even more, or if they end up turning this into a competition of constantly having to prove yourself and people around you that you are what you are.

And if you use them, remember that they’re not books that you borrow from a library or DVDs that you have to return to the video club in excellent condition and pay for them. They’re not a checklist, or something that you have the privilege – or the gained right – to appropriate, and need to treat cautiously. Instead they’re something that you need to own, rephrase, adapt and transform in the way that feels right for you.

The main point of labels (and what makes them very useful) is not to make you feel like a mass-produced tin of soup, but to help and empower you, to give you the sense of community and solidarity with other people with similar experiences.

Don’t try to meet up to other people’s standards for your identity. Don’t follow behaviors that don’t fit your personality, or habits you don’t feel comfortable with, just to prove something that cannot be proven with a super market receipt or a college degree. The purpose of labels is not to dictate what you should or shouldn’t do or conform with to identify the way you do, so try not to think in terms of “I can’t be X because I don’t fit Y requirement”.

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not trans enough if you don’t experience dysphoria, if you don’t try to pass, if you don’t fully transition or if you decide to not transition at all – whether it be socially, legally or medically. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not asexual because you’ve had sex in the past. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not a lesbian or bisexual because you haven’t had sexual relations with girls yet.

You are something if you say you are. You may feel like one concrete thing or many things at once.

4. Be open.

Accept all possibilities. It’s not always that easy, especially when you’ve learnt that you’re something you whole life and then suddenly something starts feeling off – or, hell, if it’s been feeling off all along but this shit is not the easiest to deal with. If something has always been different but you haven’t yet figured it out, it’s okay. If something changes oh so suddenly, it’s not the end of the world. Both your gender and your sexuality may be fluidly changing during your life (and at this point remember to distinguish bisexuality from sexual fluidity, or questioning processes phases from sexual fluidity). Just because you identify as one – or ten – things now, it doesn’t mean that you’ll continue to feel that way for the rest of your life.

People (even from within the LGBT community) may try to invalidate the way you identify because, to them, it’s just a way of transitioning to another identity. For example, many people dismiss bisexual identities or experiences because they think it’s just a process of you accepting that you’re truly gay, or they may dismiss non-binary genders because they may assume that it’s just a phase, before coming to terms with being a binary trans person.

You’re not going through a phase: you’re going through a process. Everything that has to do with self-discovery is changeable, and everything is a process. Being bisexual, asexual and/or genderfluid, agender or whatever else is not a phase, but your true identity as long as you feel like it describes you.

And even if you stop identifying as bisexual and start feeling attraction only towards women, or if you decide that a binary gender identity suits you best, it doesn’t mean that the ways in which you used to identify were just phases. Imagine being in university until you become twenty four, and then getting a job as a lawyer.

Just because you’re a lawyer now and you’re not a student anymore, it doesn’t mean that you were never actually a student, or that this period of your life was any less real or valid than your lawyer period. You were a toddler once. Just because you’re an adult now, it doesn’t mean that your toddler period never existed. Your identity at a specific period of time is valid and it affects you and it is what matters, whether it’s going to change in the future or never change at all.

As Adrian Ballou writes about social transition in their article I think I might be trans: “You have the right to change [your name, pronouns, and/or gender expression] […] as often as you want or need.”

4. Ask, talk, read, research, participate…

Thankfully, even if our societies may sometimes not even acknowledge, let alone represent, sufficiently research, or talk about our identities, LGBTQ+ individuals and communities have started developing huge pools where you can fish knowledge and resources, available either online, in LGBTQ+ media, or in local communities.

Tumblr was a great space for me to start and meet people like me even before joining the LGBTQ+ group in my area. That being said, the latter was the best thing I ever did to myself. Reach for people with similar experiences to yours. Ask them how it was for them. You’re gonna discover that, even those who seem so sure about their identities now and you imagine them being born that way, did go through a questioning period when everything felt confusing as fuck.

The Internet is your friend. Search for online support groups. Tumblr is a space where you can find people willing to share their experiences with you and help you find what you’re looking for without having to come out to your surroundings just yet. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network is the widest online asexual community and can tremendously help you.

Here you can read why it’s important to value trans or trans-questioning identities that come without experiences of dysphoria and in this article that I quoted before you can find an amazing guide with resources useful if you think you might not be cis. This is a guide to non-binary identities, which are usually so hard to see represented and sufficiently talked about and this is an article (all of this writer’s articles, actually), that helped me tremendously when I recently started considering being non-binary and had absolutely no idea of where to start.

Also, gradually more books, articles and movies about LGBTQ+ issues are being brought to the public eye. Here is a book list as well as a movie list to read and watch if you’re questioning your sexuality, and you can find numerous TV series and websites – such as, of course, Kitschmix and Everyday Feminism – that represent you and share advice and experiences that you may relate to.

5. …but even if you do so, don’t expect others’ experiences to echo yours.

It’s most likely that someone, somewhere, has experienced things the exact same way that you do, and they can make you heave in relief when they affirm “I can relate!”

If you meet people with similar experiences, then that’s grand! But if you don’t, it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you, or that your identity is not valid. There are countless ways to be gay, bi or trans (there are limitless ways to be a binary trans person, and limitless ways to be a non-binary trans person).

There’s no wrong or right way to be who you are – unless that something is hurting others and, in the case of your gender and/or sexuality, it shouldn’t be hurting anybody, given that they don’t hold homophobic, biphobic or transphobic views.

Also, don’t listen to people who clearly don’t understand. Demand from others to respect your feelings. When I first decided to share my concerns about the fixity of my gender with some of my childhood friends.

Since I wasn’t yet ready to discuss it with people of my LGBTQ+ community (for reasons I’ll share below) they insisted on discussing the whole issue as solely a gender expression issue (eg. it’s okay to want to dress with all kinds of clothes or to have sexual fantasies like that, you never had a “typically female” behavior and that doesn’t mean you’re not a women) which is all absolutely right, but the point was that I wanted to discuss things I felt were happening with my gender identity, and not things that had to do with my dressing style (which most of the time is, by the way, pretty femme), or my (un-)ladylike attitude.

I was heavily disappointed and that led me to avoid discussing this again for a while. When I shared my thoughts with a friend who doesn’t identify with a binary gender though, the response was much more helpful and made things look much simpler and easier to deal with.

And that brings us to:

6. Coming out

Coming out is great, but you are not obliged to do it if you’re not ready. No one is waiting behind a desk, staring at their watch and tapping their foot impatiently for you to declare Name, Surname, ID number, Pronouns, a fixed gender and sexuality all at once.

Keep in mind that people around you may also react in problematic ways that may affect you if you come out. First of all you need to protect yourself and do what feels right and necessary.

Ask yourself: is it important for you that the people around you know everything about you? What do you need them to know and what do you prefer to keep for yourself? Are you going to have problems with your family or colleagues if you come out? Are you going to have problems with yourself if you don’t come out?

Put your priorities straight (no pun intended) and don’t feel pressured by anyone to do anything. Questioning is hard enough without the possible homophobia, biphobia, acephobia and transphobia that you may encounter and have your process halted by. In the end, the people who care are those who will make an effort to understand, even if they’ve never been in your shoes before.

7. Don’t shame yourself.

I’m a guilty person by nature. You might find me apologizing for global warming, for the arrival of your period cramps, and for other things I shouldn’t normally feel guilty about. That usually comes with the feeling that I’m taking up too much space. I’m also a talkative person by nature, and an overly dramatic person by nature, so all that clashes a bit destructively: when something happens I’ll feel like it’s the end of the world, I’ll tell everyone and take all the time whining about it, and then I’ll feel too bad for whining too much and making a big fuss about myself.

Sometimes when I advocate bi/pan-sexual issues, or when I demand that my identity be respected, I might momentarily feel like I’m taking too much space from gay and bi people who are currently facing discrimination because they are in a relationship with a person of the same gender, while I’m in a so-called straight-passing privileged relationship. That’s all total bullshit, but it does feel like that when I’m in the mood of shaming myself.

This was all much more intense when I started questioning my gender. According to Natalie Reed:

Internalized cisnormativity leads us to assume that we need to prove that we’re trans to ourselves, but that being cis is simply taken as a given.”

Having spent my whole life thinking I was cis, I immediately tried to shut my feelings down because “they must be fake and un-true since they haven’t been here all along/since I haven’t been experiencing dysphoria the way I’ve heard other people describe”, “it must all be in my mind”, “I might be doing it for attention”, “maybe I’m  appropriating lives that are not mine and issues I don’t share with other people”.

And, most importantly: “maybe I’m gonna take up too much space that I don’t deserve since for some people their gender and its connotations affects and shapes their lives to a great extent, while for me the way I’ll be gendered on the street might not make that much of a difference”.

Then I talked more, with people who’ve gone through the same things and it was incredibly helpful. I found out that these are thoughts some of them have had in the past, or continue to have now that their identity makes more sense. Or I found out that their identity never ended up making perfect sense but hey, it doesn’t always have to.

They told me to stop shaming myself for what I was feeling and to give value to the way that my needs present themselves to me.  This made a huge difference to other advice such as “don’t give it much thought, you get easily influenced anyway”, which made me feel like a fake gender-copycat lil’ piece of shit. Spoiler alert: no one benefited from that thought. Neither me, nor my trans loved-ones the space of whom I was scared I’d steal.

Experimenting can be tricky since, following the previous point you might feel like you’re appropriating something that belongs to other people. But here’s the thing: gender and sexuality don’t solely belong to other people, and just because you do something that other people do doesn’t mean that you share all parts of their identities.

If you want to sleep with boys to check whether you’re bisexual, do it. You might end up loving sex with boys as much as you love sex with girls. You might end up in a relationship with a boy. You might find out that you’re still only attracted to girls and that you identify as a lesbian. If you want to put makeup on, pack your bra, bind or tuck, do it. Ask yourself what pronouns would make you feel comfortable. Play it all in your head over and over again.

Create an online roleplay account or dress up or shave off your entire head if that makes you feel comfortable. Some things you’ll end up sticking with, some you’ll realize that they’re making you feel uncomfortable.

It’s normal if it all feels overwhelming in the beginning. You don’t have to do everything or anything at all to figure out your identity, but teasing your limits can always help consider things and cross out others. After all your identity is not about a single term, but about choosing who you want to be perceived as, how you wish to express yourself, what practices you want to follow in your everyday life, and how to speak about what you’re feeling.

9. Take your time.

It’s only normal that, when you start questioning something it might be overwhelming and make you anxious with the need to figure all out at once. But it’s amazing how clear things may become if you take some time to let it all unravel.

10. Remember that it’s okay to be confused.

Confusion is not something to have your feelings invalidated over. People usually say you are confused to make you feel like what you’re going through isn’t real, but you can be confused without that meaning that what you’re experiencing is not actually life-changing, significant, or very truly real. Being confused is the most normal thing you should expect. Hell, we are confused over what’s our favorite movie and about the mixed feelings that salt and vinegar chips or too many gummy bears give us. Gender and sexuality are things just as complex (or more complex, depending on how you see it), as picking between The Smiths or The Magnetic Fields, or digestive reactions and neurons reacting to pineapple flavor supplements.

Questioning things around – and inside – us has been part of the human condition since (almost) forever. The point is to learn how to give these questioning processes the value and attention they need, instead of dismissing them just because they may be transitional periods, or periods of confusion.

My Identity Is Not Up for Debate

During the portion of my life that I’ve been out of the closet, I’ve heard a lot of different things. I’ve had women I was interested in who decided – from information they’d inferred on their own – that I wasn’t as gay as I should be.

I’ve had other crushes who decided – again, based on assumptions – that I was too gay for them. It’s almost funny, when I think about the irony, but from my perspective, I am exactly gay enough. I might not fall into your narrow definitions, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not who I say I am.

Realistically, though, the most important thing is to identify in a way that feels comfortable to you – even if that means choosing not to identify.

In many ways, I choose to opt-out of identities, but that doesn’t mean that the ones I do opt into are any less real, just because I’m not 100% “in.”

You have your experiences, and I have mine.

Someone once told me that the only people who will ever really know what happened are the people who were involved. That might just be the most insightful thing I’ve ever heard (especially from the mouth of someone who eats hot dogs in yogurt… gross). Even in situations where the person defining your experience was there, though, it’s important to realize that no two people are going to react to the same experience in the same way. Our experiences are a complicated mix of physical, emotional, and inferred events – and just because someone infers something about your situation doesn’t mean that what they say is law. You are free to experience things in your own way, as am I.

Your identity is very personal.

When we think of the major identities, there are certain blanket definitions that are generally agreed to. For example, you can usually pick a stud out of a crowd – but what if she’s really just a tomboy (and straight)? The definitions we usually go by aren’t universal, and most people just pick the one that’s “closest” to the way they feel about themselves. If there was really a different term for every individual identity, we’d literally all go by our full names, all the time. (And, even then, statistically speaking there’s probably someone else with the same name who is nothing like you.)

Most people hold multiple identities.

For example, I am a writer, a sister, a daughter, a partner, an anxiety-manager, a survivor, a meditator, a pet owner, a lesbian… I am so many things, but most of these don’t come up in daily conversation. We pick a few pieces of our identity that we feel best represent us – “I am a lesbian writer”. Does that mean I only write about lesbians? Absolutely not! Most of my work falls into drastically different subjects (I’m writing about jewelry after I finish here today, and tomorrow I’ll be working on a fantasy novel). I get to decide which of my identities are important, and I get to decide which ones are public knowledge. You don’t get to apply a label to me without my consent.

Identities are complicated (and optional).

Since none of these identities is automatically more important than others, I get to define which ones I opt into. I don’t consider myself non-binary, even though I fall outside the traditional gender binary. I don’t consider myself a blogger, even though the large majority of my writing appears on the internet. I never considered myself a raver, even though I spent several years of my life going to a party every weekend. Only you get to decide which identities you “opt-into.”

We don’t always hang onto our identities, but that doesn’t mean it was “just a phase.”

People are constantly growing, changing, and developing. In fact, if we were ever to stop any of that, we’d die. Literally. Personally, I am proud of every change I have ever gone through, because they helped me become the person I am today – and, all minor insecurities aside, I like the person I am. I’ve learned, I’ve adapted, and I’ve gone through experiences that have changed me. But those experiences don’t define me. I define me.

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Sam Fox Opens Up About Her Sexuality: “I Would Say I Prefer To Be With Women”

Sam Fox has admitted she has been frightened to label her sexuality.

The former glamour model turned singer and reality star, come-out publicly back in 2003, when she declared she was in love with her then partner, Myra Stratton.

The couple were together over a decade, but sadly Stratton passed away in 2015 of cancer, leaving Fox devastated.


Speaking on British TV show Loose Women, she revealed that her perception of her sexuality has shifted, as she has entered another relationship with a woman.

I was a bit scared. People in Britain do know about it, and on Big Brother I talked about it. It was a good chance to speak about it in my own words.

I did sit on the fence a little bit. I said I don’t believe in labels. For a long time I was a bit scared, because I did feel maybe – I’ve got of male fans and female fans too – and I was scared I would lose that fanbase.”


Asked if she finds it hard to say ‘I am gay’, she added:

A little bit, because it is a label isn’t it. I always believe in love, you can’t help who you fall in love with, but I can’t really see myself ever marrying a guy.”

She was also asked if she was worried it would be bad for business, she said: “Yes.”

The fact I was with Myra for 16 years and now I am in love again with another woman. It’s just I would say I prefer to be with women. It’s lovely being in love, don’t ever forget that. Be true to yourself.”

Cate Blanchett Confirms Her Past Relationships With Women

Blink and you’ll miss it – but Cate Blanchett just confirmed she has enjoyed past relationships with women.

In new piece with Variety, the six-time Oscar nominee talks about playing the lead in Carol, a new lesbian romance based on Patricia Highsmith‘s novel The Price of Salt. In the article, Blanchett also mentions that she has had relationships with women “many times” before – wow!

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From the article…

When asked if this is her first turn as a lesbian, Blanchett curls her lips into a smile. “On film — or in real life?” she asks coyly. Pressed for details about whether she’s had past relationships with women, she responds: “Yes. Many times,” but doesn’t elaborate. Like Carol, who never “comes out” as a lesbian, Blanchett doesn’t necessarily rely on labels for sexual orientation. “I never thought about it,” she says of how she envisioned the character. “I don’t think Carol thought about it.” The actress studied the era by picking up banned erotic novels. “I read a lot of girl-on-girl books from the period,” she says.

This is the first time she’s spoken about having been with women. However, the actress is currently is married to Australian writer/director Andrew Upton, so any further outings with women will be pretty limited.

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Carol is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 50s lesbian pulp novel The Price of Salt. While lesbian pulp novels usually ended in tragedy (it would have been blasphemous to end them in blissful romance) Highsmith broke barriers by doing the opposite. In The Price of Salt the lead falls for a young woman – a department store clerk and artist – and spoiler alert (!) it ends in a way that lets us imagine that the two women end up happy together.


On the film, director Todd Haynes says

In some ways, the event of a gay love story is less surprising every day. But I think love stories are hard to pull off, period. They require external forces that keep the lovers apart.”


Cate is now one of several public women who have spoken about having relationships with women, while also not labelling themselves, much like Miley Cyrus.

Watch | Raven Symoné Supports Miley Cyrus on Not Wanting to be Labeled Bisexual

While serving as a guest host on “The View,” Raven-Symoné said she supports Miley Cyrus‘ desire not to be labeled for her sexuality, but added: “Miley, I agree with you and, girl, I said it first.”

Symoné was filling in for Whoopi Goldberg, who was dealing with a family issue, when Cyrus’ recent interview, in which she said she has relationships with both men and women, but does not want to be labeled “gay” or “straight” came up.

Also read: Miley Cyrus: “I’m Not Hiding My Sexuality”

“I think I heard that somewhere,” Symoné said. She then played a clip from a 2014 interview she did with Oprah Winfrey.

I don’t want to be labeled gay. I want to be labeled a human who loves humans. I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American. I’m an American.”

Speak on the view, Symone said of the backlash she received after the interview

They thought I said I wasn’t black and I didn’t want to be labeled. Miley, I agree, we should not be labeled because it creates tension between people and you feel like you can look down, like that’s this type of person and this is how I should feel about you.”

Also read: TV World Gets Another Diverse Lesbian Character as Raven-Symone Guest Stars in ‘Black-ish’

Co-host Rosie Perez added

I think it’s a generational thing because I think that there was a time where labels were necessary because we were disenfranchised. We were ostracized from the conversation. So to put ourselves into the conversation, to take our seat at the table, there was a need to say, ‘Wait a minute, I am this. I’m not ashamed of it and I’m going to speak out'”

Maria Bello Questions the Labels We Give Ourselves

In November 2013, Bello wrote a column for the “Modern Love” section of The New York Times called “Coming Out as a Modern Family” about her family. For Bello, her “modern family” consists of her beloved son, a close friendship with her ex-husband and a romantic pairing with her long-time friend Claire Munn, whom Maria only realised she was in love with when she was 45 years old.

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The column received thousands of comments, which prompted her to write a book called Whatever…Love is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves.

The book allows Bello to explore various aspects of her life. For example, each chapter starts with a question like “Am I a Catholic?” and “Am I LGBT or W?” – The “W” stands for “whatever”. It’s also a book about loving yourself and honouring the real relationships in your life, whether or not they fit the model of what family, friends or lovers are “supposed” to look like. Rejecting that nasty compulsory white-cis-heterosexism that tries to trap women – just find a man, and you’ll be OK.

I raised questions about the meaning of partnership, modern family, and the labels we all carry. I wrote about the people standing by my bedside when I was sick at the time.

They were all my partners in some way, whether I slept in the same bed with them, did homework with them or had a child with them. When I told my son that I had fallen in love with a woman [Clare Munn] who was like a godmother to him, he simply said to me, ‘Whatever, Mom…Love is love’. That statement opened up a door to a larger conversation about how many of the labels we use today are outdated.”

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In a recent interview with on GLAAD: All Access, hosted Claire Pires, actress Maria Bello opened up about her new book. Watch the interview here:


Raven-Symoné, the Issues of Race and Labels

Race is a contentious issue at the best of times. We still live in a deeply racist society, despite the claims of the 21st century being ‘post-racial’, and people have strong opinions when it comes to their racial identities.

Raven-Symoné learnt this herself some weeks ago when she denounced the label ‘African American’ in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, explaining that she is “tired of being labelled”.

Understandably, arguments were raised on both sides, for and against Symoné’s anti-labelling stance. Not all of the criticism was debate-worthy or even constructive, though and she has now taken to Facebook to defend herself.

In a post, the actress states

“I don’t take offense to those that are mad at my personal opinion of myself. Like before, I’m glad there are conversations happening. Our generation tends to stay comfortable, at times, with issues and topics that need to be addressed.”


She then goes on to say that,

“What does irritate me is the bulling [sic] tone towards myself and other opinions in the blog. Keep your disrespectful, mean, hurtful, words in a diary for yourself. Personal attacking is not needed, and no matter what race, nationality, culture, or womb you came out of; strive for respect. Strive to be virtuous, so the conversation can lead to great things, other things.

Our ancestors of all races had the courage to stand up for what they believed in no matter what the fight. Back then I hope the motto wasn’t…”the more haters the better”


In many cases she is right – whether you disagree with what she said or not, verbally attacking her is unnecessary and doesn’t aid positive discussion. However, the suggestion that everyone critiquing her opinions are “haters” is somewhat troubling.

It’s unclear if we’ll hear her speak up about her beliefs again as the backlash was harsh enough that she backtracked on her ‘colourless’ expression a few days after she made it, confirming to thegrio that yes, she is still black.

But without Symoné, the conversation about race and labels rages on anyway, let’s just hope it can continue without the personal attacks on her in future.

Raven Symoné; A Woman With a Clear Sense of Who She Is and Isn’t

Raven Symoné is woman who has a very clear sense of who she is and isn’t. Watch this clip from the Oprah Show, and Raven Symoné discuss sexuality and race.


Raven has been relatively quiet about her personal life, but when pressed by Oprah, she gives a careful answer.

“That was my way of saying I’m proud of the country. But, I will say that I’m in an amazing, happy relationship with my partner. A woman. People in my family, they’ve taught me to keep my personal life to myself as much as possible. So, I try my best to hold the fence where I can. But I am proud to be who I am and what I am. But I am proud to be who I am and what I am.” Raven Symoné

The actress says she has known who she is before she was even a teenager.

“In that topic of dating… I knew when I was, like, 12. I was looking at everything. I don’t want to be labeled ‘gay,’. I want to be labeled ‘a human who loves humans.’ I’m tired of being labeled,” she says. “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American.” Raven Symoné

The remark seems to catch Oprah off guard. “Oh, girl. Don’t set up the Twitter on fire… Oh, my lord. What did you just say?” Raven explains…

“I mean, I don’t know where my roots go to. I don’t know how far back they go… I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from, but I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American. And that’s a colorless person. I don’t label myself. I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian, I connect with Asian, I connect with Black, I connect with Indian, I connect with each culture.” Raven Symoné


P.S – Raven Symoné New Look – Loving it

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