We've all had the conversation before but I just don't think I'll ever be ok with the fact that labels rule our society with such a dominating force. They are what give us the ability to sort through things, create order, establish a foundation for all prejudgment, and break it all down at the same time. It's as if our lives would slowly disintegrate if we didn’t have ways to label the places, things, and especially the people around us.

Sure, they serve a purpose when you are looking for a specific service: police officer, sex worker, baker, child molester. They all point you in the right direction whether you're pursuing their goods or their presence. But then it gets technical. How many labels are we allowed to have? Where do we put the limit- racial identity? Favorite sports team? Sexual preference? Bad habits? Hey I'm Jamie the Japanese, Yankees fanatic, bisexual nail-biter? What about the fact that Jamie actually has a black father, secretly watches the Red Sox, has never been with a woman but just likes to look at them, and only bites nails when stressed? Sure you call yourself white, but what does that mean? I can promise you it doesn't mean the same thing it means to me when I say it. Yeah you can call yourself a lesbian. But I can promise it doesn't mean the same thing if I were to call you that. So why do I have to call you that? You've never in your life had feelings for a man? Even really strong platonic ones? Who's to say your definition of platonic is someone else's definition of true love?

Then there's my favorite word- normal. Where do you even begin to understand the true semantics behind that word? Like honestly, my brain hurts just trying to get a good grasp on it. How do I begin to give the word context? Does it depend on where I am at that moment? Who is saying the word? Where that person grew up? What that person's general political stances are? What that person had for lunch? What the general conception of society's modern definition of the word is? It's insane. Yet so many people have used various strategies to make me understand the word. "No. It's not imposing a set of standards on anyone. It's just the way it is. Society is one way and there's no way around it". Or "You're just being stubborn.

Obviously there is something that is accepted as 'normal' and something else that is 'abnormal'. Doesn't mean one is right and one is wrong. It just is". Ok but who are you to define what is actually is, then? Sure, we can blame it on society. But what society? Who's society? If we are going to accept a general definition of the parameters established by the use of the word, is it universal? If not, when can I use it? And with whom? When I'm visiting home is it different from when I'm living in Mexico? When I'm talking to my 80-year-old aunt is it different than my 13-year old punk rock cousin? What about my 60-year old Catholic neighbor? Or my 15 year-old in-the-closet student? What if someone else uses it in a conversation with me and I don't agree? I have to go through the entire process of explaining why I'm in disagreement; a process that can be irritatingly slow because you don't even want to go through with it because at the end you know the person will still be indifferent because they've been "brainwashed" by this monster that we've termed "society".

I'm surrounded by people that are so enthused, so passionate, so in love with their faith that it leave me in awe, in wonder, and in a state of complete jealousy. People that can believe so strongly in something that it changes their lives. So who am I to say that what they consider to be wrong is right? Sure I can disagree and I can explain why…that's different. I could tell them I think sexuality is just a social construct…or I could casually drop into conversation that my two female friends recently got married or that my cousin just broke up with her boyfriend to start dating her softball teammate…things that they would never be exposed to and hence why they would never be able to grasp MY definition of "normal". But I'm still pointing it out to them. Why is that wrong? It's different. I once asked a class of students if they thought I was gay. They laughed. Why? Because it had never crossed their minds that it could actually be true. Why? Because people don't talk about it. Wrong? No. Bad? Yes. Normal? WHO KNOWS

I will go ahead and make a brash rationalization here based on the slight understanding I have gained through reading the entries, responses, and comments on the blog- very few of you have gone through a period in your life in which you honestly think about whether you'll have money to buy lunch tomorrow. So your standards of normal living are different than those who have, right? The ones I work with everyday? How different? Could you EVER understand their concept of a normal routine? I say Mexican and you think of….? Something different than what I think of, right? Do you kiss your landlord on the cheek when you greet him? If I do, is that abnormal? Do you get together on Sunday to have dinner with all of your family including your aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, and 3rd cousins? If not, does that make you abnormal? Mean you "don't have values"?

I have an identity. But what do I do if how I view it is different from how you view it? Who is right? No one is. But what if you want to call me straight and I don't? Or I want to call you upper-class and you don't? Well gosh darn ain't that a pickle?

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