Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Labels: not just for pickle bottles?

I know that labels are for food and clothes, not people. I know that very well. So why did I choose three potentially incendiary, rarely combined labels for the title of my blog?

The fact is: we define ourselves all the time. It’s how we figure out who we are. Not everyone wants a label for every aspect of their life, but all of us claim membership of some social groups as major aspects of our identity.

The problems with self-definition arise when the labels I use as a convenient shorthand for parts of my identity are misunderstood by others: when people have an instinctive negative reaction to a certain term, or when people understand a given label differently than I meant it, or when people think something is the only (or the most important) aspect of who I am.

And so I’d like to expand on each of my three chosen labels, and explain a little of what they mean to me.


For a lot of people, being gay means nothing more than who they sleep with, but for me it’s part of a much larger system of beliefs and thought. I am a white, middle-class, able-bodied, cis-gendered woman, so I have a lot of privilege. Being gay – being part of a minority group that is still openly and systemically discriminated against in many parts of the Western world – is the thing that made me start to question my privilege in other areas, and to recognize the systemic bias against minority groups that is still prevalent in our supposedly advanced society.

Arguably, it’s because I’m gay that I’m a feminist, that I try to be attuned to instances of racism and ableism and transphobia and classism and ageism, that I reject the network of ingrained prejudice and systemic oppression known as the kyriarchy.


Christians have rather a reputation for being fans of the kyriarchy. In fact, many Christians have heartily embraced it as God’s will for us. I find this rather odd, because, as I see it, the kyriarchy’s biggest critic is this one guy named Jesus.

Jesus railed against the most powerful people in his society. He spent his time on earth with women, with prostitutes, with lepers, with the poor, with dishonest tax collectors – with every marginalized and oppressed group in first-century Palestine. At every turn in the gospel story, it is the downtrodden that witness the key events and play the key roles.

To me, this is nothing less than a condemnation of our earthly systems. All forms of oppression are profoundly ungodly, because the only one we should be serving is God, and that is a free choice. Choosing to be subservient to anything else is idolatry, but at least it is an exercise of free will; forcing others to be subservient is a denial of their free will and thus their humanity. God doesn’t do that, so why do we?


My gayness and my Christianity work together, and, although the combination is frequently challenged by members of both groups, they strengthen each other. That’s something that cannot be expressed too many times or too many ways, for the sake of both gay people and Christians. But it wouldn’t be a true picture of who I am if I didn’t include my geekiness.

I became a Christian a couple of years ago, and I started coming out a couple of years before that, but I’ve been a geek longer than anything else. As a bookish kid, I had a hard time at prep school, and I love that my geekiness is now something that I can own, and through which I can connect with others. I define geekiness as an especial affinity for the worlds of media, pop culture, and fiction: a passionate devotion to books, music, film, TV, and so on.

Gay Christian geek: the three areas of my life are constantly growing and interacting. There is always more to learn about fighting oppression and about God, and about the relationship between them. Filtering pop culture through these lenses helps me to understand more about this world and my place in it.

Writing about these things is my journey. Where I’m going, I can’t yet say. The only thing I know for sure is that I’ll learn a lot along the way.

1 comment:

  1. Christian and gay in the current society?

    You've got a strong will my friend.