I am going to label myself. I am a gay atheist. Yes, it is a label. I like having this label. And I do not mind if others have labels. I actually want to see those labels. What would happen if we didn't have them? And yet many refuse to accept them or want them.

I want to know if people are of the same ilk as myself. Personally, I don't want to be groping around in a dark room, full of people without labels, in fear that I would grab something that I did not want to grab or grope. There really is nothing wrong with having a label.

I would much rather be warned ahead of time, of someone's label to better prepare myself for the meeting, or whatever it is that we might be doing to have such an encounter. Would you rather know nothing about someone that you might not like or know a little about them, with their label so you know what to expect.

Yes, I suppose you can pre-judge with these labels, but I still believe they are necessary. Just think of all the places you use labels. Are you M or F ? A label. Gay or Strait? A label? Religious or Atheist? Labels. 

I want to know if my future mate is compatible with me and that means he needs to be labeled as well. Without getting too graphic, I can only imagine being set up on a blind date..without that label on the date and knowing nothing about them. 

I am a Gay Atheist. I like my label.

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Comment by Ed on July 22, 2014 at 8:32am

I would not consider being male or female as a label, it's a gender.

Comment by Erock68la on July 22, 2014 at 10:42am

Does it matter whether you label yourself or someone else does it? 

The problem with labels, as I see it, is they can be limiting.  There is a tendency for others to think that’s all there is to you.  They don’t look beyond the label to see the wonderful, complex, unique individual you are.

It is perfectly natural to want to belong to a group.  According to Maslow, it satisfies the human need for love and belonging.  Same with church, a motorcycle gang, marriage, the democratic party, or chess club. 

Comment by Quincy Maxwell on July 22, 2014 at 10:43am

Good point, thank you for that. But I have had conversations that feel like being male or female is a label. Especially when it comes to employment issues. I think it could be construed as a type of label.

Comment by Strega on July 22, 2014 at 11:38am
I think labels dehumanise individuality, but if you want short cuts to people, they serve a purpose of sorts. An analogy might be that you pick up a book to see if you want to read it, and you check the story summary first. You might even read the chapter headings. But in the end, the only way you can find out if you like the book, is to start reading it.

Reg the Fronkey Farmer made me laugh when he narrated a story of going into a Christian bookshop and asking if they had a non-fiction section. However, it's relevant if you are making judgements based on labels. To Reg, the religious books were all fiction. To a religious person, those same books would be considered Truth - certainly not fiction.

Most people here know I have a wife, not a husband. The label that would apply here is that I am a Lesbian. I don't think that label suits me simply because it implies I like relationships with women, which is untrue - I like my relationship with one woman.

The label "bisexual" for example, implies that the person likes sex with both male and female partners, but actually it means the person likes sex with either male OR female partners. Small difference in vocabulary, huge difference in interpretation.

Do you really think you want to be labelled based on the way you choose your sexual partners? I find that concept weird. If I had to select a label that others would read to know about me, I'd prefer the label "kind" as it is what I try to be.
Comment by Quincy Maxwell on July 22, 2014 at 12:00pm

Thanks for your comment and I really do appreciate it. I just really do not have any problems with labeling myself. I am fine with it. I am ok with having this label I know most people are not I accept that. However, I am not sure when this labeling issue became such a problem for many. They have turned it into something negative, and in my opinion, having a label can be a positive aspect and trait of who we are. I am proud of who I am and what I am. I do not wish to hide these facts.

I have a label, yes, but what is under that label is just as important as the label itself. Everyone has their own definitions of what labels mean. For instance, you spoke of someone going into a Christian bookstore and asking for non-fiction material. Why did you mention it was a Christian book store? Is that not a type of label ?  Yet that story would not have been the same had you not mentioned that it was a Christian bookstore. The label was needed, wasn't it? 

And you mentioned you have a husband an not a wife. And you mentioned that you are a lesbian. I think that is wonderful. But those are all labels. Why not just say, you are a person with a spouse? You wanted me to know who you are and what you are about. So you used a label to describe part of who you are.  Being male an female are genders. They are not labels.

I really appreciate your comments about my blog and I hope this discussion and sharing of ideas will continue with others. I wish you the best of everything and great happiness.

Comment by Belle Rose on July 22, 2014 at 1:56pm
Labels unconsciously invoke stereotypes, and can perpetuate them when fallen upon ignorant ears. I am many things, and it would be impossible to describe myself with a label. I do not fit neatly into any sort of mental classification. Any one label I might try to impose upon myself could be easily torn away from another aspect of myself. I'm not against the idea of people labeling themselves the way you describe as a way to proclaim pride in who you are, but simply knowing you're a gay atheist is so limiting! What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies? Your profession? Those aspects of your "self" are important too, and much more important than your lack of belief in any gods or your sexual orientation. Those are the things that labels cover up, and yet those are the things that are most important for your friends and family to know and cherish about you.
Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on July 22, 2014 at 2:47pm

I think there is some merit in using terms like “gay” or “atheist” if they are used as descriptors rather than labels. I use the word “Atheist” about myself but only when asked. I suppose “Anti-theist” would be more accurate but I only use that word when talking to Atheists because I don’t have to explain it. However I say “Atheist” as I want us to take ownership of the word. It is often used as a term of abuse by Christians or even in the media it can be used to denigrate a person in a debate…”Oh he is Atheist…how could he be moral”. Too many people have no idea what the word means. Seldom does it mean “I do not believe in the existence of the God you believe in”.

I will never let an abusive or dumbass remark go unchallenged. I don’t care who says it or where it is said. I will seldom be aggressive but I will be outspoken. I have no problem telling a Christian that says I am going to burn in Hell forever or that they are going to Heaven that I think they are suffering from a delusion and need to give some serious thought to how they got to believing that everyone is immortal. I hate the belief but not the believer ;-). If they get angry I ask for forgiveness.

I suppose the word “gay” is used sometimes still used pejoratively.  When I hear homophobic remarks or comments about homosexuality being a “lifestyle choice” I ask them this question.

Using “labels” as descriptors can give a lot of information quickly but we must be prepared to engage with the other person(s) in further explaining what the terms mean to us. It is about taking ownership of the word(s) by educating people as to what they mean. It will help to remove fear and ignorance which in the longer term will mean less discrimination and lead to a more secular and equal society.

PS –Strega –It's unlikely but if you are ever in a bookshop in the religion section and find a copy of “God is not Great”…I was there earlier :-)


Comment by Belle Rose on July 22, 2014 at 5:06pm
I love those videos Reg, that was great :)
Comment by Doug Reardon on July 22, 2014 at 5:51pm

I am death; the destroyer of worlds.

Comment by Quincy Maxwell on July 22, 2014 at 7:26pm

Thanks, Reg, for you your continuing this discussion. I am enjoying learning more about different ideas from different people. This site has been great, so far and is so much better than the other ones I checked out. Only had one jerk on here at this point, but I can deal with them.

One of the points I was trying to make, was, and I should have been more eloquent about it, is that when did this ant-labeling of people start and what was the original beef about it?  I just do not have a problem with labels or being labeled. Maybe I am old school in this matter. I am learning about this issue and am enlightened by the different ideas on here.


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