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01/30/2016 08:05 am ET

Indigo Girls: Being Labeled A ‘Lesbian Duo' Often 'Implies Mediocrity'

"It's only hard when it's derogatory, and it's mostly derogatory."

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, the women behind the folk band Indigo Girls, are often labeled a "lesbian duo," which they told HuffPost Live isn't necessarily a bad thing -- except when it "implies mediocrity."

When host Alex Miranda asked Ray on Thursday if she ever feels pigeonholed by the label, she explained how identifiers can often be a good thing, especially in the middle of a fight for civil rights.  

"What we hope for is a day where that distinction doesn't matter and doesn't carry weight," Ray said. "But I think right now, for me, we're in the midst still of a civil rights movement -- in many different ways for different groups of people -- where identifiers can be good things and important moments for people to take inspiration from."

Still, those identifiers can be problematic; Ray used the example of classifying a black writer as an "African American novelist" instead of simply a "novelist." 

Ray explained that while the band owes much of its success to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, being labeled a "lesbian singer-songwriter" is hard because it is often meant in a "derogatory" way instead of as a way to celebrate diversity. She explained:

It's not like somebody says, 'Alright! It's a lesbian singer-songwriter. I love them!' It's more like, 'It's another lesbian singer-songwriter...' And it implies mediocrity, and what we're trying to do is say, you know, 'We're proud of who we are and what our identity is, and we're going to make the best music we can and we don't want to be held back by a label that implies mediocrity or something.' But it's up to us to make sure that doesn't imply mediocrity.

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