I’m not a fan of being labeled. I don’t like being perceived to act in an expected manner. I believe that labels restrict us and establish a possibly unwarranted expectation for our behavior. One of the reasons that I dropped out of the semi-finals for becoming a Big Brother contestant was because they were clearly trying to herd me into being the “gay one”. Since this was relatively early in the Big Brother history, a man by the name of Bunky had established the gay baseline for behavior on Big Brother (he cried a lot) and that didn’t really appeal to me. I don’t want people to think I’m going to be an emotional wreck just because I’m gay. I’d rather people find out why I’m an emotional wreck without figuring any labels into the equation; that’s when they’ll find that I’m more eccentric than an emotional wreck.
Over the past month or so I have stopped eating meat for the most part. I have had a meatball or a piece of pepperoni here and there but other than that, I have enjoyed a pretty much meat-free diet. I have also stopped drinking milk, instead opting for rice milk with my morning cereal. I have done this before but back then I always called myself a vegetarian. Now I didn’t go running into a steakhouse screaming “murder!” with a look of indignation on my face back when I was labeling myself a vegetarian. I wasn’t militant but when offered a piece of meat I would say, “No thank you, I’m a vegetarian.” I labeled myself. And that made me kind of militant about it not eating meat, even though I didn’t think I was being overly militant. So now, when offered a meat dish of some sort, I simply say, “No thank you.” And that’s that. If pressed for a reason, I would simply say, “it looks delicious, but I’m just not in the mood for (insert offered dish here) today. Thank you, though.” I don’t want to be known as a vegetarian. I don’t feel the need to proclaim being a vegetarian and I don’t want the label applied to my permanent file. It’s bad enough that my penicillin allergy is on that permanent file because that shows the world that I have a weakness and I don’t like that sort of thing.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with calling yourself a vegetarian and if that blows your skirt up in a pleasant way then I am all for blowing your skirt up, but it’s just not my thing. It’s kind of like “gay marriage”. I like it better when it’s called “marriage”. I have been accused of being homophobic about myself because I don’t go running through the mall screaming “I’m gay!” (the neon light of my personality does that for me anyways) but I believe we should respect one another enough to the point of respecting the labels (or lack thereof) that we choose to identify with. Do I identify as a “gay”? Of course I do, but I don’t want to be singled down to being “the gay one”. If you want to get on a really bad side of me, mention my sexual orientation when introducing me to someone. At least one person in attendance is going to be mightily embarrassed and I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that it’s not going to be me. It’s not that I’m not proud, it’s just that I have bigger things to be proud about.
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