Is Rejecting Sexual Labels A Step Forward or Backward? From

The last few years seem to have inaugurated a new era in sexual identity politics, one where rejecting sexual labels--lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc.--has become more radical than claiming them. In May of 2015, provocative songstress Miley Cyrus said: "I'm not hiding my sexuality. For me, I don't want to label myself as anything. We love putting people in categories, but what I like sexually isn't going to define me." A month later, Australian model, Cara Delevingne, currently dating the singer Annie Clark, known as St. Vincent, followed suit, revealing her sexual fluidity to Vogue, and her aversion to categories on Instagram: "STOP LABELING!!! START LIVING!!!" her tagline reads. Three months later, publicity-shy actress Kristen Stewart echoed similar sentiments: "Google me, I'm not hiding," she said, referring to paparazzi shots that captured a romantic link between herself and her personal assistant, Alicia Cargile. "If you feel you really want to define yourself," she continued, "and you have the ability to articulate those parameters and that in itself defines you, then do it, but...I live in the fucking ambiguity of life."

Few could make the rigid identity politics of the '90s, the era in which I earnestly and resolutely affirmed my lesbianism, laboriously coming out to everyone I knew, seem more passé and uncool.

It took me more than a decade to quietly ascribe that culturally fraught term--lesbian--to myself, even longer to admit it to others. But finally, at 40 years old, through years of perpetual self-disclosure, the label feels as native to me as my own my own limbs. The thought of discarding it like an outdated dress feels more untethering than it does liberating, which is why I stumble on the thought that we've truly reached a new point in sexual liberation, where asserting an L, G, B, or T has grown obsolete. Are we really in the primordial stages of a post-coming out era? Or is this a fashionable way to stay in the closet? It is a step forward or a step backward?

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