Alex Blaze

LGBTQIAk!

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 16, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

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Gay.com, which still exists, has an unsigned column that's.... sigh:

Picture 2.pngDo you understand what that means? This acronym that once unified people who are drawn to those of the same gender now represents people who are drawn to both genders, people who are drawn to everything, and people who aren't sure who they're drawn to, as well as people who self-identify as the opposite sex, have atypical or no sex organs, people who associate everything they do with sex, and people who don't have sex at all.

It reads like a bunch of dissimilar misfits grouped together. And if that's the case, should we throw in battered women and the Amish? They probably have sex, too. And what about WWII-era Japanese Americans? Then it could be LGBTQIAOPBAAWW2JA. Talk about a mouthful.

Usually I wonder what's up with people who complain about how long the letters could get, in the future, in ways that no one's suggesting. Are LGBT people so short on problems that we have to make up new ones?

And my normal answer is "Fine. You don't like letters. Let's all just be queer." This column at least responded to that:

Now there's LGBTQIAOP, which is just ridiculous. Especially when you break down the meaning. For the longest time I thought the "Q" stood for "queer"--a word I never use in relation to things homosexual because according to the dictionary it means "strange," "odd," "of a questionable nature," or "mentally unbalanced." Which is not how I wish to identify myself. Labeling yourself abnormal does not invite acceptance. We might as well call ourselves "outcasts." But I have since learned that the "Q" actually stands for "questioning," which means you can be a part of the Gay BLT simply by wondering if you're gay. Evidently you can also be intersexed, omnisexual, pansexual, or even asexual.

I think when the author wrote "now," he meant "in 1990," because that's where this controversy was taken from (maybe tomorrow's gay.com column will about who's cooler, Michael Jackson or Prince).

Anyway, at least the author is honest about his motivation:

In the beginning it was simple enough: LGB or GLB, depending on the gender of the person using it. (As with a tennis score, you tend to put yourself first.) Then along came the transgenders and suddenly we had LGBT--or as I've heard it called, the "Gay BLT." But once it became a multi-layered sandwich, there was no stopping it. And the more it grew, the harder it became to swallow. And identify with. The more groups it represented, the further away from my experience it drifted.

And in the poll at the bottom:

Picture 1.png

LGB is just fine; LGBT is too long. Is there a big difference between three and four letters? Or is it just something about that fourth letter....

There isn't really much of a debate here as I think most people have gotten over the letters and understand that saying them all together means one thing but saying one individually means another thing, so I often wonder why (gay) people like to pretend that there is. At least gay.com is honest enough to explain: people who don't like "LGBT" just don't want to be associated with transgender people.

And even they admit that size doesn't matter:

My concern isn't about the enormity of the sandwich. It's about the plain and simple fact that a gaggle of marginalized groups don't automatically form a cohesive community.

Gay men are "a cohesive community"? What planet are these people from? I'm not about to be BFF with most of the gay men I meet in real life or meet or have much in common with the vast majority, let alone feel like a "community" with them.

At least we know where the unknown author is coming from.


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Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | October 16, 2010 7:31 PM

Let's all just be Transgender, since we're all defined by some manner of non-adherence to heteronormative cisgender sex and/or gender expectations.

If being gay makes you transgender, then where does that leave us gay trans guys?

What I don't understand - what I've never seen a good explanation of - is why the mere existence of an acronym is so incredibly offensive.

The fact that it's possible to say "LGBT" or "LGBTQ" or "LGBTQIA" or "LGBTQIAWTFBBQSASQUATCH" does not mean that you can't say "LGB" when you're talking about LGB issues. Or, for that matter, just say "gay" when you're talking about stuff that pertains specifically to gay men. But when you're working on stuff that affects all four groups - stuff like youth homelessness and suicides, marriage and adoption rights, employment discrimination, and the like - why not be inclusive?

As someone who writes about these issues every day and actually has to consider which term to use all the time, I just don't get it. You can't just substitute "gay" for "LGBT" because they just plain mean different things. And while the letters can get cumbersome, they really aren't oppressively long and four isn't so bad.

I've never understood LGBT and any extension. Either way, somebody who feels like they should be included will feel left out.


Even something as specific as "gay community" is a lie. There's no such community. But such is identity politics, where we're fed the idea that a gay urbanite from NE can be lumped in with some suburban gay guy in Texas, just because they fuck people of the same sex. As if that would determine worldview.

It extends to pretty much any minority. When someone says "we black people", they're already promoting a lie. But this happens thanks to the political process, which for lack of time and effort would want to truncate individual input and try to force everything into a cramped consensus.

jami_bantry jami_bantry | October 17, 2010 1:18 AM

I prefer Human Being.

HB for short? The HB community?

(slapping myself on my forehead and rolling my eyes)

I have a headache... time to go to sleep.

Huggs,
jami

I agree with Alex. I self-identify as queer. So many folks can fit into queer and feel included. Gays can be queer, trasngender folk can be queer, even allies can be queer. Asexuality? That's queer. Bisexuality? That's pretty awesomely queer too. Genderqueer? Love it, come join the queer club!

Too bad this guy's dictionary seems to hate him so much. If I had to make all my decisions based on what the dictionary told me, I'd probably be a neurotic mess as well.

"Should I get this cereal?" Well, technically, a cereal is grain, this is a prepared breakfast cereal--and its sugar coated and accompanied by marshmallows, so...

Ah f**k it, I'm skipping breakfast.

Hand-wringing over what to call ourselves is ridiculous.

Also agree with Alex this is a totally fabricated problem of the bored and self-loathing. If someone comes at me with a bunch of letters I've never seen before, it does not ruin my day. I get the general gist of things. It bores me to death when gay men get so angry about putting the "L" before the "G" or putting the "T" first or the "B" first. It really doesn't matter... until gay men freak out. Makes the little punk-rock kid inside Phil want to find a way to move the "G" further and further to the back. "LBTCQPAAI...g" :-)

Folks with this much time on their hands to worry that the acronym is getting too long are bored. And as Harvey Danger said "Well if you're bored, then you're boring."

So, Mr. I hate myself too much to even sign my incredibly useless gay.com column, put that in your pipe and go f... you know the rest.

I'm actually not a big fan of "queer" - I know that it includes me, and I'm not going to whine about people using it because I'm not vapid and bored enough to pretend to care, but if I had my choice I'd prefer something else.

"Queer," to me, summons up connotations of the genderqueer and/or pansexual-identified spectra, the gender-bending/deconstructing queer theory types. As someone who's pretty blandly binary and monosexual, I know intellectually that I'm included by the term but I don't feel included by it - sort of like bi folk and lesbians might know that they're included under inclusive "gay," but not really feel that inclusion emotionally.

Abandoning the alphabet soup also means abandoning the ability to specify subsets of the queer community. For instance, DADT is a specifically LGB issue, and if it's repealed LGB personnel will be able to serve openly - but queer people, more broadly, will not. Asexuals already can, genderqueer people only benefit if they're LGB by birth sex, and trans and intersex people are screwed. Calling it a victory for queer rights blurs those distinctions.

Hate to admit it, but I am in agreement that it's just too much.Many of us are gender fluid, we have these issues with labels, and we try to label what we still can't even quantify.

I think half the reason I slept with women after I came out at fourteen was more because I hated being labeled (sorry ladies).

We all belong to multiple communities, be they transgender, gay, lesbian, etc. Aren't many of the struggles we face because we don't want to have to identify? We just want to be left alone to live our lives without hatred.

There's power in numbers, but I think it decreases with the increase of letters indicating community representation.

Our communities might be better off embracing the benefits of being a small group, and use the connections between to form coalitions when we need stronger integration to face challenges inherent in oppression. Moreover,we should do this with any oppressed community, so no one ever need stand alone. Leading by example, we can shed the quirky and confusing labels and spend less time debating them.

Alex, you already presented the answer: LGBT, or GLBT, or just plain "queer".

... the "Gay BLT." ...:

The GLBT or LGBT sandwich: Fix a BLT sandwich and put freshly-made guacamole on it instead of mayo ... It's delicious.

P.S. In case there is any question about it, the sandwich goes in your mouth.

(And I said "freshly-made" meaning you split some avocados and mix up the guacamole yourself -- don't use that pre-made crap they sell in the stores. It usually has lots of mayo in it, and real guacamole has zero mayo in it.)

Marja Erwin | October 17, 2010 3:25 PM

Well, I'm no fan of bacon... and if someone puts mayonnaisse in a sandwich, I have to get it back out before eating, and that usually leaves a big mess and very little of the sandwich it hasn't soaked into.

Don't blame you for avoiding pork bacon -- it's the most expensive unhealthy fat available today, and all the fast-food chains are trying to push it off on us (because the beer-and-tail-gate-party crowd apparently loves it!).

But there is such a thing a turkey bacon, and even "veggie bacon" made out of the same vegetable components as veggie-burgers.

And if push comes to shove, I guess you can make your GLBT sandwich using turkey breast or chicken breast, and then the "B" can stand for "breast meat" ...

... and if you are desparate for a "B" you can even put blueberries in the guacamole ...

Sister Mary FP | October 17, 2010 3:58 PM

At this point we're looking through the wrong end of the telescope. It's not 'us' (whoever that is) that needs a circus-tent elastic umbrella label, it is 'them.' Let's identify ourselves using the one thing all the various groups have in common: targets of a religious/political eliminationist philosophy that requires having others sitting at the back of the bus so its adherents can feel special.

Coincidentally, there is this post in my reader this morning: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/using_heterocentric_to_fight_homophobia

Heterosexist! There's a nice word to turn the focus from 'us' (who 'we' are and whether we have anything else in common) to point to the real culprits. No need to fuss over the inclusiveness of gay/queer/BLT alphabet soup acronyms, 'we' are anyone who has been attacked by heterosexism, and you (including the Amish who are generally very nice people but might be puzzled when included in the Pride Parade) are one of us.

Apologies if linking to other blogs in comments is poor form, but it does seem to directly address the topic.

I'm easily genderqueer. More specifically butch dyke. But just butch enough to pass for a gay man, not a straight man. I feel that gay covers me fine. Yes, even emotionally. I think of gay men as my brothers. I think of trans women as my sisters. I think of gays in Uganda as "my people." When a white, cisgender gay boy dies by suicide, I feel I've lost one of my own. It doesn't matter to me that they're not identical to me. I'm not really like most lesbians either.

Maybe it's because of my age. Because I witnessed the AIDS crisis as a teenager. Maybe it's because I went to an LGBT youth group as a teenager. "If they kids are united, they will never be divided."

I don't think "LGBT" is problematic...rather I find the narrowing definition of "gay" to be problematic.

I gladly identify as QUEER. I too am irritated by the constantly expanding universe of letters. For those situations where using Queer is problematic, I prefer the term "The Sexual Minorities." (How's that for inclusiveness?)

I tent toward using queer in the queer community as a general term, LGBT with a broader community as a general term and specific terms such as gay,lesbian, trans or bi when speaking about specific people or issues.
They are, after all, tools for communication and I am gong to use the tool that is going to accomplish the goal the most effectively. If I am in a position of coming out I will identify as bi when speaking about myself. If I am in a position of educating someone outside of the community I may first use the terms and then just LGBT. If a student is sitting in my studio crying because his parents treat him like crap for not being straight then I am going to use whatever term is applicable.
They are tools and each one should be available to perform the work that it performs the best and should be used as needed.
I saw this article and I appreciate the response by Alex.

Jesse Monteagudo | October 18, 2010 10:18 AM

The Gay.com column is not "unsigned." It was written by Winston Gieseke. You will find the by-line after the end of the column and in rather small type.

What's funny is that the column got linked by the advocate (that's how I found it) and they didn't mention the author name either, implying that it was an unsigned column from gay.com itself.

Don't they own gay.com?

http://advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/10/15/Gaycom_Take_LGBT_Off_the_Menu/