Editor's Note: Guest blogger Josh Verbeke is a student at IUPUI and a longtime LGBT activist. Josh attended the Midwest LGBT College Conference on behalf of Bilerico-Indiana. Bilerico Project was a sponsor of the conference.
Queer. No matter who you are, I'm talking to you. Formerly a schoolyard taunt, the dirty word is quickly becoming the label of choice for those who don't want to use the "alphabet soup" labels.
Are the labels limiting or liberating? Those I interviewed at the recent Midwest GLBTA College Conference in Bloomington volunteered the stigmatic "queer" as their identifier.
Three men in a Queer Media workshop took issue with the Q-word, citing it as an affront to their sexual identities. However in the workshop "Whips, Nipple Clips and Candle Wax," the Q-word was a hit.
If you are offended by the use of blanket terms, or the word "queer" itself, brace yourself. T, I, 2S, or any identifiers beyond the antiquated gender binary have largely been replaced with "genderqueer," with its quickly growing definition.
Genderqueer is not necessarily a welcome term to those who identify with one side of the gender binary. "I'm not a queer. I'm a woman. I just wasn't always [a woman] on the outside," said a source who preferred to remain anonymous.
So, why don't we add MI, TM, and GQ for those who are masculine-identified, trans-masculine, or genderqueer? Oh yeah then FI, TF, TFGQ. I'm sure I left someone out. While it is important to be inclusive, it's impossible to please everyone.
Even LGBTQQAI2S is going to leave someone out. Perhaps you don't like the word "lesbian," or you think "bisexual" is too limiting. It could even come down to the order of the letters. "Why am I last?"
The worst part of the battle of labels is the lack of unity. Here we are trying to include every letter - I mean person - and we make more and more divisions. We are beautiful in our differences, but the political correctness gets ugly.
Instead of looking at the big picture and fighting for inclusion, people look at the neighboring letters and split hairs about who belongs on the same list. Look at how reluctant gay rights groups of the 90s were to include the letter T.
The spectrum of the identity letter game includes sexuality with regards to gender, not just attraction. Maybe no letter(s) can correctly identify all the time, but who ever heard of the Nameless Rights Movement? Categorical Anonymous meetings?
Now we choke on a mouthful of letters unable to remember what they all stand for. I wouldn't go to all the trouble of saying the string of letters if I intended to make someone angry by leaving them out.
Let's stay focused on unity. Don't waste time on internal conflicts regarding the alphabet of inclusion. It's time-consuming and ineffectual.