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Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Gay > Artikels | Features

Towards a label-free society

Cobus Fourie - 2009-10-01

We have a rather clumsy and long acronym for our beleaguered community: LGBTIQ. I propose that henceforth we refer to ourselves as the Pink Community. The acronym perpetuates division through the use of language and if you read some of the works of Foucault you will see how linguistics is an existential tool used to construct reality – I am, of course, a huge follower of the poststructuralists.

During the weekend of 15 and 16 August 2009 a rather strident war of words was exchanged on Facebook. The issue: some transgender persons regard themselves as superior to other transgender persons and the basis for this: sexual orientation. To make it very clear (and there has been much research done on this issue), sexual orientation vastly quantitatively differs from gender identity.

Some charlatan psychiatrists came up with a term which would divide the transgender community into two groups: the so-called "true transgenders" who are heterosexual, and then the so-called "depraved ones", who are gay, lesbian or bisexual/pansexual.

This division is a simple ploy to cause divisions in our community, and the rightwing knows very well that when we do not stand together as one we are a far lesser force to be reckoned with.

It saddens me greatly if members of the LGBTIQ/Pink community fight amongst one another. We should stand together as one. Otherwise we gay males will have the upper hand because statistically we present the vast majority of the pink community. Now imagine we run a gaystapo type of regime and renounce the rest of the pink community because numbers-wise "we don't need them". I have more humanity and compassion to ever allow that, and promote the rights of the entire community. I once took on a popular 5fm DJ after he'd cracked a few horrid and distasteful jokes at the expense of the transgender community. Some might ask why I did that. I will answer I'm bound by my conscience. I don't do it for glory or money and I don't want a medal.

The classification as debated does nothing but promote division and reminds me of that website where the so-called straight transgender people declared their superiority and went about with much strident triteness about how lesbian or gay transgender people are an abomination. It is absolutely no different from racism and Nazi eugenics.

What if I was half-transgender like bisexual people are neither exclusively straight nor gay? Enough with these evil heteronormative dichotomies that have been imposed on us by the patriarchy! Why on earth do we entertain their taxonomies and elaborate on them? This infighting is exactly what the patriarchy wants. United we stand, divided we fall.

Enough with these pigeonholes – should I be content with being labelled cisgender and gay? I am most definitively not. I am who I am and I may decide what that is and reserve the right to alter it at any time. I am not my body, I am not my sexual orientation and neither my heritage. I am henceforth just pink. No more divisions. Who will join me in renouncing these labels; it is in any case a heteronormative notion.

Even my first-year psychology textbook displayed the notion very cleverly by using a graph (and it is a widely shared school of thought) that sexual orientation is not a black/white dichotomous issue but exists in a continuum ranging from exclusively heterosexual on one side to exclusively homosexual on the other side and several degrees of bisexuality in between. Wikipedia's definition:

[S]exual orientation is usually discussed in terms of three categories: heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual. These orientations exist along a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexual to exclusive homosexual, including various forms of bisexuality in-between. The continuum between heterosexual and homosexual does not suit everyone, however, as some people identify as asexual.

Jim Burroway from the venerable Box Turtle Bulletin wrote this on 13 August 2009:

The eleventh annual Reykjavik Gay Pride parade ... attracted about 80,000 people to the middle of Reykjavik on Saturday. Involving roughly a quarter of Iceland’s entire population, the sheer size of the party is tribute to Iceland’s leading equal rights legislation and the citizens’ inclusive nature.

Iceland does not have a gay village. It does not even have many gay bars and clubs at all. But that has nothing to do with Iceland being a strict, conservative society … quite the opposite in fact.

Peek into a Reykjavik gay bar on a Saturday night and you will see a clientele anything but exclusively gay. And if you think all the dozens of other bars in town are straight-only, think again. People in Reykjavik go partying in places dictated by their taste in music, their taste in décor or simply by their bossy friends. They do not need to choose a venue based only on their sexuality.

Hopefully one day this counterproductive infighting in the Pink Community will stop and the supremacists and their ideology die off. The Reykjavik article makes for a prime example of how a society could transcend social divisions and I would like to use it as an example for South Africans to strive for.

If you take Iceland into account, their Prime Minister (de facto president) is an out lesbian woman and the country has no gripe with that. Looking at the extract above by Jim Burroway. One day we, too, will transcend labels and categories and be seen simply as people.