What's in a label?
Labels sometimes have their purpose. Harmful if swallowed. May cause drowsiness. Do not drink alcohol while using this medication. Right? But, labels should (almost) never be used for a person. Still, we like to label folks for various reasons. I think we have a natural proclivity toward sorting things, putting them into neat little classes so we can understand them. And again, to some extent this habit of classifying things may be helpful; it lets us make sense of the world and relate to it in the best way we can.
But, labels can be destructive because it is easy for negative connotations to become attached to them. We relate to the world based on linguistic constructs (nuances of language). When labels become attached to an otherwise innocuous word, then you are not only transmitting the word when you speak the label, but you are also transmitting the meaning and feelings that go along with it. In other words, if you say "homosexual" like it is a bad thing, then others receive this negativity and incorporate it into their own understanding. That is how hatred gets spread.
Why am I telling you this?
Today, October 19th, is Spirit Day (see the links at the bottom of this journal if you're not sure what I'm talking about). This is a time when we honor and embrace one another, and especially a time when we appreciate and respect the diversity of sexuality that we are so fortunate to have on dA. It is a time when we make it known that it is not okay to preach love and peace and then turn around and spread hatred toward people who may have different traits than we do. It's not okay to have to be ashamed of our faith, which is a rock upon which we build our lives, because other human beings are preaching intolerance in our names. It is simply not okay.
In my opinion, love is love. It doesn't matter whether you're homosexual or heterosexual, or even if you don't dichotomize sexuality, instead experiencing it along a continuum. Regardless of who you love or how you love them, my deep-seated belief is that life is about loving someone, about sharing your heart and soul.
is a fantastic resource for learning more about bullying among our youth. Being a member of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, or queer) community puts our children at higher risk of being bullied. These kids are thus at a increased risk for suicide and other maladaptive behaviors. And, did you know that kids who are bullied are more likely to bully others? It's a vicious cycle.
Let's put an end to it by making a pledge to be mindful of our own actions.
I'm not asking you to go out and testify from the stage in the school auditorium or tell all your friends and coworkers that bullying is wrong. I'm asking each of us-- adult as well as adolescent-- to take a close, honest look at our own behaviors and actions, and even our own deepest held beliefs (the kind that are dark and dirty in the back of your mind where no one can find them). How might you be contributing to the problem? What labels are you using? I challenge you to find a bit of loving-kindness for people at whom you might otherwise have turned up your nose a bit.
The funny thing about humans is that we are "plastic." That's a psychobiology term that describes the fact that we can change, no matter how old we are or how we are set in our ways. And the other great thing about us is, we are highly susceptible to social contagion. So, if you are treating people in the LGBTQ community with respect and love, others are more likely to do the same.
Love is contagious, and this is one virus worth spreading.
supports Spirit Day