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Identity

  • If a man has a sense of identity that does not depend on being shored up by someone else, it cannot be eroded by someone else. If a woman has a sense of identity that does not depend on finding that identity in someone else, she cannot lose her identity in someone else. And so we return to the central fact: it is necessary to be.

  • Identity is not found, the way Pharaoh's daughter found Moses in the bulrushes. Identity is built.

  • A strong sense of identity gives man an idea he can do no wrong; too little accomplishes the same.

  • With him for a sire and her for a dam, / What should I be but just what I am?

  • As a Black lesbian feminist comfortable with the many different ingredients of my identity, and a woman committed to racial and sexual freedom from oppression, I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self. But this is a destructive and fragmenting way to live.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • "Age, Race, Class, and Sex," speech (1980), Sister Outsider ()
  • Memory is the crux of our humanity. Without memory we have no identities. That is really why I am committing an autobiography.

  • We've all got an identity. You can't avoid it. It's what's left when you take everything else away.

    • Diane Arbus,
    • in Diane Arbus and Doon Arbus, Diane Arbus ()
  • ... it matters infinitely less what we do than what we are.

  • Split at the root, neither Gentile nor Jew, / Yankee nor Rebel.

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • "Readings of History," Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law ()
  • ... it is all the question of identity. ... As long as the outside does not put a value on you it remains outside but when it does put a value on you then it gets inside or rather if the outside puts a value on you then all your inside gets to be outside.

  • The minute you or anybody else knows what you are you are not it, you are what you or anybody else knows you are and as everything in living is made up of finding out what you are it is extraordinarily difficult really not to know what you are and yet to be that thing.

  • Turning into my own / turning on into my own self at last.

  • Figuring out who you are is the whole point of the human experience.

  • Who you are depends on who you meet.

  • Every loss recapitulates earlier losses, but every affirmation of identity echoes earlier moments of clarity.

  • It isn’t where you came from, it’s where you’re going that counts.

    • Ella Fitzgerald,
    • in Megan Schoeneberger, Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Jazz ()
  • These have been weeks when no one / calls me by name, and this is very simple: / The parrot in the kitchen of my house / has not yet learned it. / People the breadth of the city / don't know it. / It has no voice, no sound or note. / Days. I go without a name / in the street whose name I know. / I sit for hours without a name / before the tree whose name I know. / Sometimes I think without a name / of him whose name I don't know.

  • To me, a person's identity is composed of both an 'I' and a 'we.' The 'I' finds itself in love, work, and pleasure, but it also locates itself within some meaningful group identity — a tribe, a community, a 'we.' America is too big and bland a tribe for most of us.

  • Nature forms us in a certain manner, both inwardly and outwardly, and it is in vain to attempt to alter it.

    • Lady Hester Stanhope,
    • c. 1800, in Duchess of Cleveland, The Life and Letters of Lady Hester Stanhope ()
  • Identifying as a Pagan, feminist, Witch, and anarchist is possibly a way to alarm great segments of the general public, but at least it keeps me from sinking into a boring and respectable middle age.

  • I put on several different outfits. The advantage of not knowing who you are is you can attempt to be all things to all men ... or women. My mother saw me always glancing in every mirror, every window; in the gleaming blades of knives. She said, 'Jill is vain.' She did not know I was looking to see who would be there this time.

  • One is what one remembers: no more, no less.

  • My mirror image always had to be interpreted. And for that I sought my reflection in someone else's eyes.

  • I am a Black Lesbian Feminist Warrior Poet Mother, stronger for all my identities, and I am indivisible.

  • In love we find out who we want to be, in war we find out who we are.

  • The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don't get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans people's lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average; if you are a trans person of color, that rate is four times the national average. The homicide rate is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don't actually get to talk about those things.