Labels by Zach Lauzière-Fitzgerald
Labels. I’m not usually one for the uncomplicated. I thoroughly appreciate the beauty of ambiguity, of living in a world of colour instead of black and white. But, I’ve been growing more appreciative of the simplicity of labels. Maybe by allowing myself to fit inside a box, I free myself to see what is on the outside. It may seem diminishing to call myself a handicapped gay kid. Whenever I describe myself as such, the usual response I get is “don’t say that about yourself” or “there is so much more to say about you." I’m in no way denying that there is a lot to say about me. I’m like a-sexy-mysterious-music-star-who-only-puts-a-song-out-every-ten-years type of interesting and — hopefully — kind, funny, resilient, and not unsightly. But, by calling myself handicapped and gay, I don’t negate those aspects of myself. I can be disabled and gorgeous, gay and complex. I know I’m an actual human being, and not a list of adjectives. However, I don’t get to choose how the rest of the world perceives me, remembers me. We may want to act as if the wider world has these blinders on that don’t allow it to see difference, but my whole life had taught me differently. I’ve had my fair share of friends being asked “what happened to him?” or “is he gay?”
So, instead, I choose to understand the implications of being gay and differently-abled while also having the privilege of being a white, cis, ok-financially man. I recently read something that touched me. However, I don’t remember who said it, so I can’t give due credit. But, here is me badly paraphrasing it: "Why should I be congratulated for living my in truth when the other option is to live a lie?" I’ve never really set out to become more confident. However, I challenge myself on a daily basis to feel comfortable living in my truth. It may not necessarily be easy. Most times, being yourself implies taking up space which makes most people uncomfortable, but by inhabiting the world proudly, it invites others to do the same.