Attitude - - Contents -

Al­pha­bet soup

Let’s be hon­est, the acro­nym is a popular thing for peo­ple to get their knick­ers in a twist over. The al­pha­bet soup. The LGBT sand­wich. LGBTLMNOP. Lis­ten, I con­sider my­self to be a pretty so­cially pro­gres­sive guy – I’ve got the right read­ing ma­te­rial on the shelf and the cor­rect change. org pe­ti­tions shared on Face­book – but even I be­lieve that it’s get­ting a bit much with the let­ters. At­tempts have been made to shorten the acro­nym with­out eras­ing any­one’s iden­tity or ex­is­tence.

“LGBT+ sounds like a telly chan­nel, a chan­nel where you see what the gays were up to an hour ago,” claims my close and per­sonal friend, Myra DuBois. “The fi rst four let­ters are easy to re­mem­ber,” she con­tin­ues, “be­cause they sound like a Span­ish coastal town, El Ja­betea.”

Very droll, Myra. She does have a point, though. I would hate to join in with the cho­rus of crit­ics at­tack­ing the in­vig­o­rat­ing vo­cab­u­lary of iden­tity pol­i­tics. ( I re­fer you to the de­fen­sive crit­ics of the term “cis- gen­dered” – which, in my opin­ion, is a per­fectly use­ful term to use when re­fer­ring to a per­son who isn’t trans.) Cor­rect me if I’m wrong, but isn’t ex­press­ing our­selves bet­ter what lan­guage is for? Oth­er­wise we’d still be bang­ing rocks and try­ing to get by with “Oook.” Not only is it easy to cause of­fence by omit­ting let­ters, but LGBTQIAAP+ isn’t an at­trac­tive mouth­ful, is it? It’s not pleas­ing to the ear. It’s a bit like Ll an fair­p­wll­gwyn­gyll go gerychwy rn drob­wll ll an ty si lio go go goch. ( google if un­fa­mil­iar).

Lea DeLaria ( of Or­ange Is the New Black fame) re­cently pointed out: “Part of me be­lieves that this in­clu­siv­ity of call­ing us the LGBTQQTY- what­ever- LMNOP tends to stress our dif­fer­ences, and that’s why I refuse to do it. I say ‘ queer’. Queer is ev­ery­body.”

And I firmly agree.

There’s some con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the q- word. For many of us, es­pe­cially those who grew up dur­ing the mid to late- 20th cen­tury, our first ex­pe­ri­ence of the word“queer” came as a ho­mo­pho­bic slur in the play­ground, and hear­ing its use can quickly evoke mem­o­ries of the trauma of grow­ing up“dif­fer­ent ”. And that is ex­actly why it’s a per­fect ex­am­ple of when a sim­ple, all- com­pass­ing um­brella term such as “queer” is use­ful .“Dif­fer­ent” is too vague, while “gay” im­plies that I’m only ad­dress­ing cis gay men. The rain­bow flag has many colours, and “queer” per­fectly em­bod­ies the oth­er­ness that unites us all.

It also helps me to ex­press and de­fine my­self be­yond my sex­u­al­ity. Yes, I have sex with other men ( when they let me), but al­though I’m a cis guy, my re­la­tion­ship with my own gen­der re­sists so­ci­ety’s ex­pec­ta­tions of me. That sub­se­quent marginalised feel­ing, which has noth­ing to do with who

I’m attracted to, is per­fectly summed up by “queer”. It’s a feel­ing shared by many les­bians, gay men, bi­sex­u­als, trans peo­ple and more, who are re­claim­ing “queer” from its murky past as a ho­mo­pho­bic slur be­cause it brings to­gether ev­ery let­ter in the rain­bow al­pha­bet.

To mis­quote Catherine Tate: “Queer, dear? Who, dear? Me, dear? YES, dear!”

“LGBT+ sounds like a telly chan­nel where you see what the gays were

up to an hour ago”


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