Why do I have to be a label?

rainbow-label-gayFor some reason, our sexual orientation has come to define us as a people.  To me sexual orientation is a characteristic that people have.  It is treated as such in certain parts of the country.  When I lived in Long Island and northeastern New Jersey, people just didn’t care about your sexual orientation.  It was accepted and treated like it was just another characteristic of a person.  It was unsettling at first that people were not concerned that I was gay.  How do you accept that after growing up in a repressive community?

In Pittsburgh, I’m the gay computer programmer.  I have only met one other gay programmer in this town.  Why do I have to be a gay programmer?  Why can’t I just be “a programmer” or “a guy”?  People treat me fairly for the most part.  I just don’t like having to be called gay.  Does my lifestyle have to determine everything?  I’m not ashamed of being gay, I’m sick of how our society treats it.

There are several issues here.  The one that I think affects people in the LGBT community most is the sociological problem that I call “default straight.”  Our society revolves around the fact that one’s sexual orientation is assumed to be straight.  This assumption requires us to identify as gay in a straight world.  Labels, as much as I hate them, are required so people don’t ask about my wife, kids, or propensity to screw women.

This leads to LGBT people being defined by their sexual orientation.  It shouldn’t have to be this way.  If we had the level of acceptance of the New York metro area things would be different.  I moved to Pittsburgh after 6 years in the NY metro area.  It felt like I was going back in time.  I was back to the straight world.  I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way.

I love Pittsburgh, but it hasn’t transcended that boundary of “gay is a lifestyle” to “gay is a characteristic.”  I feel that this invisible boundary exists.  What do you think?  Respond on Facebook or here.