COLUMNIST — GARETH JOYNER
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”
ANTHONY GILET THISISSUEGARETH JOYNERMAX WALLISJONNY WOO