Due to the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community, there are countless identity labels floating around, some in mainstream use and some only used by one or two people. I used to be a label maniac myself, but over time, I started to question the purpose of having overly specific labels.
Here is how I think labels should be categorized
This is the most prominent label category. It determines which sex/gender one is prone to be attracted to, like hetero, bi, ace, or andro.
This describes the manner in which people experience the attraction. Examples includes gray, demi, fray (opposite of demi), and lith (not requiring, or not wanting, people to reciprocate the attraction) fray.
These labels describe one’s sex life, or attitudes on sex. For example, celibacy is refraining from sexual activity, sex-positive people agree that people should be able to engage (or not engage) in sexual activity freely, and sex-repulsed people are repulsed by sexual activity.
These labels slap two separate identities, or even other concepts not related to orientation, into one label. Labels under this category can be easily described using a combination of other labels, or with regular language. For example, vapubsexual can be written as “genitalia-repulsed asexual”, and apothisexual is simply “sex-repulsed asexual”.
There is nothing wrong with having multiple labels for your identity. Agender gray-romantic sex-neutral celibate asexual is a much better identity than, say, Robinsexual. Some places *coughtumblrcough* are especially prone to creating weird orientation/gender labels and immediately expects everyone to magically know all of the definitions or else be offended. Identities that can be described with other labels create unnecessarily complicated vocabularies that confuse both inside and outside the community, and may cause the mainstream culture to take the queer community less seriously. There is no point in inventing the word “apear” if it can be expressed equally well as “apples and pears”.
Besides, there is simply no end to creating these combi-labels. If we just take the concept of attitudes about sex (sex-positive/neutral/negative), personal feelings about sex (sex-favorable/neutral/repulsed), sexual orientation, and romantic orientation (let’s use the five most common), then there will be 3*3*5*5=225 labels, and that’s not even counting gender or patterns of attraction.
Labels are meant to provide clarity, not to add complexity. Everyone is different. Labels are by nature a simplified version of one’s own insanely complex sexuality and gender, not an attempt to describe every single minuscule aspect of it. If we invent too many specific labels, they lose their function of being a simple and effective way of giving others an overview of one’s identity.
As time goes on, I generally find the labels to be more and more suffocating. I personally believe that this is due to myself becoming more comfortable in my own identity, and secure in the knowledge that matching a label is not the be-all and end-all of my existence. Labels played a vital role in my getting to that stage, it’s true, and so I cannot deny people the feeling of comfort that comes when you realise other people experience life in a similar way to you. Particularly in the ace community, when we’re so small that finding us is quite often reliant on luck.
That said, the amount of labels floating around and sticking themselves to peoples’ foreheads is bemusing. What’s the advantage to reducing yourself to a bunch of attitudes that mask the actual complexities of the human, variable you underneath?
The ace community will still accept you for who you are, your intricacies, your exceptions, and the wider population certainly won’t take you any less seriously because you don’t have a vaguely Latin-sounding word for ‘will have sex in order to have children’. They could probably even accept a lack of flag!
Start asking yourself whether those labels are really going to be necessary in a year or two’s time for you to accept and love your bad self, and if they are, get yourself to a psych. That shit’s fucked up.