Despite Showtime’s greatest efforts to portray Nikki & Jill Weiss-Goldstein as money and wedding obsessed barbies on The Real L Word, in reality they are indeed hardworking, productive members of society with real jobs and passions! You might recall their on camera meeting with Lisa Diamond, author of Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire, about a television series they were developing featuring women who do not classify themselves as a particular sexuality, but rather in the gray area that lies between. As my friend Shane once said, “whether you’re gay, straight or bisexual, you just go with the flow.”
Well, they are finally looking for interview subjects and this is where you come in! Per the open casting call:
+ Are you someone who doesn’t believe in labeling your own sexuality?
+ Have you been attracted to both men and women at different periods in your life?
+ Have your emotional and sexual attractions ever caused you confusion?
+ Have you been with men most of your life but are now involved with a woman?
+ Do you consider yourself gay but have also found yourself attracted to someone of the opposite gender?
If any of the above describes you and you’re willing to discuss your thoughts on camera, please send your contact information and a brief description of yourself and your relationship history to: sexualfluidity [at] gmail.com
Meanwhile, Jill now has her very own health and fitness column in Curve Magazine! Can we talk about her abs?
And if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Riese & Alex’s cameo on Nikki & Jill’s Flip Friday Video on Facebook!
Every time I hear “I don’t want to be labeled” I hear what the person really means but is too afraid to say: “I don’t want to deal with the stigma associated with being gay.” It’s not about being fluid or open, it’s about avoiding the wrath directed at openly gay people. Some of us have been out for decades, and have been taking the brunt of the anti-gay onslaught for a long time while people hide behind us in their safe “unlabeled” cocoons. It gets old.
I don’t mind having rocks thrown at my head; I’m tough; I can take it. But you’ll have to excuse me for making fun of you because you’re not tough and you can’t.
i’m sorry you think i’m lying. but…in fact, when i describe myself as gay or lesbian**, that’s when i’m lying.
**which i do regularly, because it’s convenient and easier and less stigmatized than saying “umm…welllll, i don’t really knoooow…”
i begged my friends to find a label for me because i don’t like being unlabelled either. but actually…i don’t have a label. my relationship history consists of a 2.5year relationship with a guy and a 2year(and-still-kickin’) relationship with a girl, and i’m not willing to say that either of those are invalid.
also, you are throwing rocks too?
i’m sorry you think i’m lying. but…in fact, when i describe myself as gay or lesbian**, that’s when i’m lying.
**which i do regularly, because it’s convenient and easier and less stigmatized than saying “umm…welllll, i don’t really knoooow…”
I meant actual rocks, not figurative ones. Literally, I’ve had rocks thrown at my head, been beaten, fired from my job and have been raped to “fix” my sexual orientation. I’m not talking about mere words here.
Some people ACTUALLY DO have the feelings decribed, though. It’s comments like yours that make us even more confused or afraid to mislabel ourselves. Personally I have only been in love with women, but I know I can be sexually attracted to men. It is super confusing and distressing, because I do not want to mis-identify myself and make people upset with me. I’m afraid to say I’m a lesbian, not because of the stigma, but because /what if I’m not/? It’s ridiculous, the emphasis placed on labels. If I fell in love with a man right now, I’m afraid people would discredit my previous relationships with women. Or my lesbian friends would think I was a traitor. or something. IDKKK
I’m not the same as someone who is 100% gay being afraid to come out (which is legit and some people really can’t depending on their situation… I’d be careful about scorning people for their decisions on that matter unless they are spreading hate). I understand how hard it is to be out and open, and that sucks too. But some people really ARE fluid, not trying to dodge out of stigma (which btw is okay if that’s what you have to do)
sorryyy if this comment doesn’t really make sense, i’m on my way to class and my brain is everywhere
“If I fell in love with a man right now, I’m afraid people would discredit my previous relationships with women. Or my lesbian friends would think I was a traitor. or something. IDKKK”
I’m not a lesbian, or gay, or bisexual or anything like that. I’ve identified as the following things, in this order: bisexual, straight, asexual, queer, and now I’ve figured out that nothing fits and I’m ok with it. Because my sexuality is not actually a hugely important part of who I am. It’s a part of me, but I’ve got lots of parts, and it changes a lot. I’ve gone years not being attracted to anyone at all, and times where I’ve only been interested in men or only interested in women or only interested specifically in genderqueer women, and so if who I’m attracted to is supposed to be this huge part of my identity then that’s pretty confusing.
That might be an incoherent rant but I find this kind of attitude so frustrating and excluding.
THANK YOU. I don’t feel I should have to define my sexuality. Call me simplistic, but I think love is love (or lust is lust, whatever) and we shouldn’t identify people because of who they happen to be in love/lust with at the time.
Um, fuck you.
I don’t really know what I identify as because my attraction is contingent on multiple things. Like the fact that sometimes I identify as lesbian even though I’m still attracted to men sometimes but the thought of being sexually intimate with them turns me off. Or the fact that gender isn’t a fucking binary, so I may identify as a lesbian but what happens when trans women come into the equation? The reasons why I identify as a lesbian get a little fuzzy then don’t they?
So sit down and be quiet, because forcing me to label myself causes me to feel like I’m throwing rocks at myself. I don’t need your identity policing to do it for me.
I think I must not understand this. To me it reads:
unlabeled identity = closeted homosexual = coward = subject to derision
I can’t imagine anyone out and proud ridiculing someone else’s sexual identity. I have found life hard enough fitting neatly into the “not straight = homo” equation so I have a lot of sympathy for people who are completely overlooked by it. And yes, in addition to bisexuality, pansexuality, and omnisexuality, some people identify as sexually fluid (I’m not sure that’s the right term). People with each of these identities are out and proud and active members of the queer community, despite the added burden of having to battle the ignorance of queers in addition to non-queers as they pursue their own process.
In my experience, no matter how many boxes the world comes up with, there are always going to be people who can’t find one that fits. The suggestion that it’s OK to deride someone because they prefer to acknowledge they don’t fit rather than try to cram themselves into an artificial construct strikes me as antithetical to the campaign for equal rights for all.
Most confusing for me, though, is why any queer would mock someone in the closet. It’s not like the closet doesn’t have it’s own torments. Even in the United States today choosing the closet can be the difference between life and death, custody of children or not, employment or not, being tossed out on the street or not, and having the support of your family/community or not. To me, there is nothing cowardly about choosing to survive – I think it’s the bravest choice a person can make.
Some people are gay. Some people aren’t. Deal with it.
So. Not. Cool.
It’s so disheartening when someone who has experienced discrimination, exclusion and derision turns around and discriminates, excludes and derides others.
I get that you’ve been hurt, and my heart goes out to you, but I hope that you hear from my comment and the others that what you said has hurt other people.
Please hear me when I say it is EQUALLY courageous to NOT take the label of lesbian if it doesn’t fit you as it is to not take the label of straight if it doesn’t fit you.
Be annoyed then, lol. You think fluid people are weak, get outta here. It is hard to be fluid because you have to deal with rocks being thrown from both sides, gay and straight. Ignorant, but much luv
I completely acknowledge and accept that some people who prefer not to put a label to their sexuality, really might as well just call themselves homosexual, and are just avoiding the label for sake of convenience. Sometimes this is really only minor convenience, but other times this is self-preservation! And what’s wrong with that? Sure, it’d be great if all the non-labellers who could really stand to be labeled would all jump down off the fence and join us in our discrimination-taking for sake of solidarity. But that’s too much for some people. And fair enough. If you are out and deal with discrimination and homophobia regularly, but just take it on the chin, props to you! You’re a bad ass. But some people aren’t, and I don’t think we should shame them for it.
Also I’d like to recognize the non-labellers who are quite up front about their homosexual leanings and proud of them. I can talk about my own experience with this. When asked I tell people that I’m a lesbian/queer/gay etc. I use those words. I don’t deliberately hide it either. However, when it comes to people that know me, or seem savvy to queer issues, I actually specify that I’m not only homosexual, and that I might one day fancy a roll in the hay with a dude, though I haven’t experienced it yet. And I must say, I really enjoy the freedom to tell people about this side of me. It was like a second coming out for me to admit to myself that I wasn’t only into the ladies. I’m glad I don’t always have to fit myself into the homosexual box, and that I can talk about my attractions/interest in men as well as ladies.
I think people should be free to identify as whatever, and hopefully one day everyone will also feel free to be more open and expressive about whatever “whatever” is. Cheers.
I didn’t mean to imply that there’s no such thing as bisexuality – of course there is. These words aren’t “labels” – they’re just words. And they don’t define or shape who you are, they merely describe who you are. If the words gay or lesbian or bisexual or trans don’t describe you correctly, use more words. Write sentences or paragraphs. **But own who you are** so that people can related to you in a real and honest way. All this bull about “no labels!” is just cowardice, and it messes up relationships and society, too.
Just stop. Just shut up and sit down and stop policing other people’s identities. It’s gross. My existence and my inability to label myself is not messing up society. Fuck you.
You know how you were talking about rocks being thrown at you earlier? Labels – not just sexual, but on various labels – were used to damage me, hurt me, oppress me all through my life. *Not wanting to be labeled* is EXACTLY how I own myself, because I’m sick of having other people insisting that I fit into words when my identity is better expressed through multisensory experience.
If someone wants to know more detail about my sexuality, I tell them in as many words as seems appropriate to the situation, but really I don’t think there is a label that fits. Ultimately, I don’t *feel* straight, gay, bi, pan or asexual and I don’t feel the need to identify as anything or parade a label around as though it’s central to who I am. I tend to go along with bi for convenience in practice, though I don’t think I’ve ever explicitly described myself as bi.
Physically, I’m attracted and turned on almost exclusively by the female form, not the male form. My response to the male form is generally somewhere between neutral and actively turned off, though I sometimes fleetingly find certain men attractive. Despite this, I enjoy being with both sexually and don’t feel like gender comes into it in many ways. As for relationships, until quite recently I would have said that I’m generally uncomfortable with them – both the concept and actually being in them. I sometimes think I want relationships with men, but feel incredibly uncomfortable and even repulsed by the poor guy once in them – though I’ve never associated this with my sexuality (it’s an emotional rather than a physical/sexual repulsion if that makes sense). I’ve never found myself wanting a relationship with a woman and can’t imagine myself being in one, but this may be due to general problems seeing myself in relationships combined with a lack of experience with lesbian relationships. I wouldn’t rule it out. I said “until recently” and that’s because I’m now in a relationship with a man I love. When I met him, I suddenly found that extra dimension I’d never understood or experienced before and all of the relationship stuff I hated before came naturally.
Genuinely, what label would you put on all of that? Even ignoring that any part of it is liable to change. (I used to sometimes say “I don’t really call myself anything, but if you insist on a label, I’d probably go with homosexual, heteroromantic” but I don’t think that’s either accurate or stable.) And is it really necessary to explain all of that to everyone I meet so that they can “relate to [me] in a real and honest way”? I’ll happily tell anyone who wants to know, but I really don’t understand why a thorough understanding of my sexual identity is necessary for people to interact with me. Besides, rejection of labels is a statement in itself.
I personally dont label myself, not because im confused or “afraid”, but mainly because i believe that sexuality IS in fact fluid. Some people, including me, actually dont care if it’s a girl, guy, transvestite..etc as long as there is mutual attraction and chemistry.
Maybe your sexuality is fluid – mine isn’t though, so your general statement “i believe that sexuality IS in fact fluid” doesn’t fit me. I know what attracts me/makes me fall in love, and it isn’t variable.
i did mention that it is my belief, and if we were to question statements and point fingers, then the one you made about non-labellers being “cowards” is irrelevant.
Seconding what deardelilah said. Your general statement of “you must label yourself, and you’re messing up relationships and society by not doing so” doesn’t fit me not sry2say.
To box oneself into a single word is really, really difficult. I’ve said it before that I don’t like the word ‘bisexual’ because of its implications, and I already feel like I stalk this website because of how often I post at work so I’ll not go into that here.
For the paragraph that best describes me: “Openly attracted-to-other-women without ever being with one and in a very long-term relationship with the only guy I’ve ever been attracted to, emotionally and physically.” Or: “Lesbian who’s never been with a chick but has only been with one partner who happens to be male.” Or, y’know, for simplicity sake, I’d peg myself as a 5 on the Kinsey scale but that doesn’t translate into my aforementioned life experiences.
PLEASE GIVE ME A LABEL IF YOU MUST!! I sure as fuck can’t figure an appropriate one for myself.
this is headache-inducing, srsly..
Call me ‘Tylenol’ then.
A+, would lol again :D
What is wrong with bisexual?
Simply, I find that the term implies that I’m *equally* attracted to both sexes/genders, which is false. Also…it just…I dunno, it just paints an unrealistic picture on me, like I could “go either way” or even that I’ve been with both. I dunno. I’m a little mess.
Also, bisexual to me falls in the same category as homosexual and heterosexual = biological constructs that don’t reflect the social and cultural nuances that are more important in my identity.
I was EXACTLY YOU until December when I finally got to sleep with a chick. I’ve slept with a couple now and I was thisclose to having a pretty intense girlfriend relationship, which just reinforces the lesbian category – but like you I’m in a long term relationship with a man. It caused me a lot of pain to reconcile the two – why does one of the people who is so amazing and right for me have to be male? If he was female I would have no qualms! but I’m slowly coming to terms (it helps that he’s very open and supportive) and working out definitions for myself. Thank you for sharing, I feel less alone.
OK that was weird. The “exactly you” comment is meant for Paper Flowers…
OMG HER ABS
so sad i had to scroll through eleventy billion comments re: feelings&labels to finally find the comment about her abs
OMG HER ABS!
I THIRD THIS.
agree. so hard. so much angst. so much abs.
can i have them?
yes. this. simply this.
this is what i was originally going to comment on and i got distracted. THANK YOU for bringing the comments back on the real topic. 8D
It’s always a sticky situation for me when I meet new people and have to try and explain who I am to them. If I don’t feel up to it then I just say I’m a lesbian becuase thats the lifestyle I live. But in all actuality I do have some physical attraction tword men. But they gotta be like really super hot! Like really really super hot! And even then it’s nothing more than physical. It never fails… everytime I open this dialogue with a new person, within 2.5 seconds they say “so you’re bi?, Right?” And I always have to correct them. I identify as a lesbian becuase of the way I live my life but I wasn’t one of those people who were born gay and knew from a young age. I avoid this conversation with most men becuase they all try to tell me I’m not a lesbian rather than ask me if I am bi. Im over the “don’t label me” thing too becuase for some reason it just annoys me. I understand why people preffer not to be labeled but why can’t you just say I identify most with (fill in the blank)?
yessss I relate so much to your struggle. honestly I feel like you were in my brain.
Just so that our label-lovin’ peeps leave this page happy, i give you this label:
omnisexual: Person attracted to all sexes and to all forms of sexuality, in distinction to bisexual (attracted to two sexes) and monosexual (attracted to one sex).
So there. Now, let’s scroll up and stare at Jill’s abs, shall we?
Deardelilah – I love you! I really, really, REALLY love you! That omnisexual definition is AWESOME!!!
I just DO NOT get the label thing. I was married, twice, to men, two DIFFERENT men, had 3 kids, fell in love with a woman and now have been with said woman for almost 2 years.
I identify, now, as a lesbian. I realize now I was only with men because the way I was raised that’s what you did. You got married and had kids…period. So I brushed off my feelings towards girls as just friendly feelings..but they weren’t.
I’ve had people ask me if I’m “really” gay. Umm..yeah I am.
I’ve had people tell me that because I’ve been with guys I’m bi. Umm…no, I’m not.
I’ve had people tell me I’m not really gay because I’ve been with men. Umm…yes, I am really gay.
I think your label. What you, yourself, identify with is a truly, deep, personal thing and only YOU can choose what it is. If you want to identify as a monkey-lover…fine. If you want to identify as purple-people-eater-sexual…fine. It’s YOUR choice and no one should force you into that choice or call you a coward for not knowing what choice to make.
Just my honest opinion. I am a lesbian who dated, slept with, married and had kids with men before figuring out I was a lesbian. However, that does not make me any less of a lesbian than Jane Doe over in the corner who has never slept with a man and has known since the womb that she, in fact, was a girl attracted to other girls.
SO, for my parting thoughts…some Youngbloods for you:
C’mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev’rybody get together
Try and love one another right now
NO TWO SNOWFLAKES ARE ALIKE!
I usually do not label me, but I tried to fit in some of the options.
Custum say that I have always been gay, but i will discover some 6years ago. I never felt deeply attracted to men. I feel totally confident and sure of my sexual orientation
I love women and do not mind being labeled a lesbian, since women who love women are given this name, so that’s what I’ma lesbian
Do not guess wrong and not judge those who do not give that label of lesbian, gay. There are people who simply wish to live in his own description, and not be considered a lesbian, even if your desire is for women.
In Brazil, in country where I live, there is much talk of the fight against homophobia, but we can not legally marry, after trying a fight against justice can adopt a child , lesbian couples having children is still being undermined in Brasil. I may be lesbian I may love a woman can living illegally with her but i can´t have a family with the person I love. Then I believe that for this reason many people prefer not to be labeled, and live in your little world inside his small closet
sorry for bad english =)
re: labeling/cowardice — i think people know when they’re eschewing labels out of cowardice or fear (often justified). i’m sure many people here have foregone labels to fit in or to dodge criticism or because they’re afraid to identify as gay because they want to be popular or something, and hopefully nobody is confused about that. but we’re only human. sometimes humans are cowards, sometimes humans are assholes, and all we can really do is try to be as strong and honest as we can within our life circumstances and try, as we evolve, to do what’s best by our communities and the GLBTQ rights movement. tenearthimps, i would argue that your decision to stand by your identity against what sound like the most horrible, painful, destructive forces ever — that’s not just “not cowardly.” That’s really fucking brave. Some of what you’re saying reminds me of that Ani lyric:
“some chick says / thank you for saying all the things / i never do / i say / the thanks i get is to take all the shit for you / it’s nice that you listen / it’d be nicer if you joined in / as long as you play their game girl / you’re never going to win”
That being said — for starters a lot of people don’t know yet what their sexuality is. Sometimes it takes years of dates and makeout sessions and Shane pictures before someone feels like one of those words describes them.
Nobody is obligated to pick a label for themselves. You can’t tell somebody what they feel is wrong or tell them what motivates their choices — that’s dangerous territory, especially w/r/t women/queer feelings which have historically been silenced and adjusted to fit patriarchal intentions. You cannot deny a woman the truth of her life.
On that same token, nobody is obligated to applaud or befriend or date or even like anybody who actively does a thing that you don’t like or approve of. But tolerance and respect are important.
We’ll never get anywhere unless everyone is speaking the truth of their life/feelings, whatever those may be.
“Nobody is obligated to pick a label for themselves.”
Definitely agree. I also think that, for better or worse, labeling means visibility. Of course people shouldn’t be pigeonholed or forced into an identity that doesn’t fit them. But I do think it’s important for even non-labelers to find some away to identify themselves as something other than heterosexual. Did I just contradict myself?
“For better or worse, labeling means visibility”. This is true. But I think solidarity is also important. Even if someone doesn’t want a label or can’t find one that describes them or isn’t sure yet which label fits, they can still stand with people who do have a label, who are out and visible and often mistreated for it, and they can stand up to the kinds of injustice too many queer people have experienced. I consider that pretty brave, too.
Speaking out against homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism and misogyny is something you can do regardless of how you label yourself. And maybe, as more people speak out and question these paradigms of sexuality and gender, labels won’t matter so much anyway.
I don’t have an eloquent enough agreement for this comment.
yeah I feel this comment. That’s the strange thing about any movement for equality: its purpose is to make itself obsolete. Ideally, the labels will become less of an issue as more people come out and/or speak out against homophobia, transphobia, etc.
The easiest thing for me to say is ‘not straight’. It offers an identity without being too boxy.
Let people put labels on themselves or choose no label and no judging. And if some unexpected experience changes the label they choose, labels are fluid too.
I wanted to add more context to my previous comment since I was in a hurry and wrote more a platitude than a comment. I believe pretty strongly in the inadequacy of labels because in my own family situation there are no labels or even language to describe the complexity of the sexual relationships. Case in point: my mother today calls herself bisexual but up to the age of 25 would have called herself a lesbian since she had never been with a boy but had many many girl partners (like me). She met my father who is a male with a strong feminine side and she never looked back from this heterosexual relationship. My given name is actually my mothers, they agreed to use her name and my dad hyphenates his own name the way a “wife” might traditionally. They jokingly refer to their relationship as “lesbians living together” because in a number of ways that is how it feels to them, given my Dad’s strong feminine side (outwardly he looks very male, but his taste and preference in almost everything is female). My dad would probably say he is heterosexual but it clearly is much more complicated than that. My mother uses the term bisexual because she wants to retain her identity as being fluid between men and woman but she would also clearly state that since meeting my Dad her relationship outwardly looks like a very heterosexual one. So given that, you figure it out. Labels and even the general clumsiness of language can’t begin to explain the complexity and nuance of these relationships. I won’t even go into the other relationships in my family, like my Aunt who is 100% lesbian and has lived quite a life (think Shane across 5 decades) or my gay cousins each very comfortable with their sexual orientation but I can tell you from long, long conversations that I have had with them, things are not so black and white. So you can see why I find labels inadequate and even misleading.
When I first came out, I came out as bi, even though I knew I was gay. I was scared, and if I was bi, I could at least still “date” boys and be ‘normal’. Really stupid since my entire dating history with boys was a relationship when I was 12 where we never even kissed and one when I was 14 where we kissed maybe two or three times.
So, yes, sometimes, labeling or lack thereof can be out of fear.
But my girlfriend, who usually refers to herself as queer when in private (because saying the paragraphs it takes to describe her everytime gets tedious) and bi in public (ditto)? She’s not scared, at all. She is just that far out of anything binary and taught to be normal by society.
So sometimes, lack of labels can be because there’s just not a damn thing that fits.
Well, I’m sexually fluid. I go through periods of ONLY being attracted to girls, periods of ONLY being attracted to guys, and periods where I’m attracted to both. For the sake of convenience, since people are always so eager to put labels on me, I just call miself ‘bisexual’.
Labels are for clothes, not people.
EVAN RACHEL WOOD BISEXUAL!
This is the most important thing tbh.
For years, I thought I was straight, but not really interested in sex. Then I thought I was straight, still not terribly interested in sex, but weirdly attracted to a couple of women. Then I married a man for 12 years. Then I realized that I never stopped being turned on by women, but men almost never turned me on, even though I did genuinely love my husband for several years. Until I didn’t anymore. For the past 3 years, I’ve ONLY been attracted to women, have ONLY had sex with women, fell desperately in love with my first girlfriend, and haven’t looked back at men as a viable relationship option. Currently, I’m single and not really attracted to anyone at all, but I’m sure when I am again, it will likely be a woman. That said, I wouldn’t rule out a future with a man. But I doubt it. My ex-gf didn’t want to label herself as a lesbian, and preferred the term “queer”. Even though she is more turned off by the idea of sex with a man than I am, she doesn’t rule out the idea of being emotionally involved with a man. Crazy old world, everyone is different. Labels are a convenience, but not really a necessity, as far as i can see.
Not to beat a dead horse, but. For me and others I know it has taken tremendous courage – not cowardice or fear – to say to the world that we prefer not to be labeled, because the world so desperately wants us to have labels, even the oppressed ones. I used to hate when people said that too…until I became one of them. Lesbian = not me. Gay = not me. Bisexual = not me. Queer = sometimes. But none of those words really describe my experiences. And that’s not for anyone but me to decide.
Ugh, Nikki and Jill. They were wayyy too saccharine for my taste, but their wedding looks pretty.