2018-06-11 – Roy G. Biv is a mnemonic for the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Not all languages have words for these exact colors. We are told that there are three primary colors, but we don’t all agree on what they are. There are additive primary colors—red, green, and blue—which, when added together produce a secondary set of colors: cyan, magenta, and yellow. And these secondary colors end up being called subtractive primary colors. Other folks try to narrow it down to 7, 11, or 12 color names.
Some folks don’t even try to narrow down the color names. They go the completely opposite way. Crayola has its 64. Paint companies like to do this to the extreme. Take, for example, the Behr Company’s 20 trend colors for 20i8, which include: soul search, unplugged, quiet time, and spirit warrior. I’m sure you can all visualize those colors just from the names. Wikipedia offers a noncommercial selection of color names—here are color names A-F.
The same thing seems to be happening with gender identities.
When I was a kid, I knew about two gender identities: male and female. Then I learned about gay, then lesbian, then bisexual. Of course, the latter three are subsets of the first two, as are straights. Then I learned that there were people who were not in those subsets and those were transgender and intersex. And there were queer and intersex and asexuals. Whoa! There were so many. Did I belong to any of these? Maybe I was questioning?
I get it, but I don’t. I get that, when society attacks you, you circle the wagons. You have pride in your identity. And I support that.
But to me, these identities seem like boxes. LGBTQUIA+ is never going to be able to contain all the variations of human behavior—because human traits are not discrete. Take height. There’s no 5’4″ human who’s different from a 5’5″ human who’s different from a 5’6″ human who’s different from a 5’7″ human, etc. And think about all the humans who fall in between. It’s a continuum. Skin color is not limited to black, brown, yellow, red, and white. It’s a spectrum of colors. And if you look at the socially constructed racial categories, they only slightly correspond to these colors; exceptions exceed the number that neatly fit.
So why would sexual behavior be different, as a trait? It looks to me like a spectrum. ROYGBIV.
Actually, it looks to me like more than one spectrum. There’s a spectrum of how you like to be touched. There’s a spectrum of who you like to socialize with. There’s a spectrum related to your interest in child-rearing. There’s a spectrum of intensity. And so on.
Add to this all the socially created gender stereotypes. How interested in sports are you? How interested in theater? How business oriented are you? How service oriented? How easily do you cry? Do you like the color blue or pink? The list goes on and on.
So when we define identities, it seems to me like socially-created boxes. So, take me for example. I’m a straight male, but not typical of my box. I’m not into sports. I’m more service oriented than business oriented. I loved having kids and can’t wait for grandkids (and this was a surprise to me because I never suspected it when I was younger). My wife usually drives the car and fixes it. She’s the handy-man of the family. I do the laundry and wash the dishes—endlessly. I used to cook more, but that fell off. I cry easily. I like musical theater.
Of course, no one is discriminating against me for my sexual orientation (now, not true when I was a kid), so I don’t have to defend it with a label. But many of my non-straight friends don’t really fit the stereotype of their labels. Do we create new labels for them? Or throw up our hands and admit the truth: everyone has their own version of the human experience.
The way out of the confusion is to respect everyone and mind your own business. That’s how I try to live my life. Sadly, not everyone agrees with that.
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