I know someone who, despite having socialist tendencies, refuses to be called a socialist because, she says, it would mark her as being on the fringe. I suspect this is a rather common sentiment.
But I say it is for exactly that reason that we should embrace rather than avoid the term.
Universal health care is attacked as being a socialist idea. You know what? Universal health care is a socialist idea. And that's a good thing. You know what else are socialist ideas? Public education, police departments, fire departments, roads...
We need to reclaim the word socialism so it isn't perceived as being on the fringe, because it's not and shouldn't be considered to be. We need to reclaim the word socialism so it can't be used as a thoughtless insult. We need to reclaim the word socialism because we live in a society, and that's a good thing.