Monday, January 07, 2019

Dropping the ‘LGBT’ From ‘LGBTQ’ Is a Bad Idea

Since "coming out" in mid-life, I have come to learn that the LGBT community is very diverse and as time has gone my, more letters have been - in my view - added by some to that acronym, turning it into an alphabet -soup list of letters in the quest of inclusiveness even as the end result becomes ridiculous.  Given the cumbersomeness of the terminology that this mindset has created, some are now arguing that all of us non-heterosexuals in society should be labeled as "queer," a term I find abhorrent and which plays directly into the hands of the enemies of gays, lesbians, the transgender, etc., citizens.  Indeed, one dictionary definition of "queer" means "differing from usual or normal" in some way, usually negatively.  Synonyms include odd, strange, freakish, peculiar, bizarre, weird, and unnatural. Why would anyone sane want to label themselves so that they encourage name calling and denigration?  Moreover, the agenda of LGBT rights is to achieve EQUAL treatment and rights and to educate the larger public that members of our community are "just like everyone else" save for our sexual orientation and/or gender expression.  A piece in The Atlantic blindly argues for the use of the single term "queer" which in my view would only fragment the non-heterosexual community and make some disavow those who are less conforming.  Here's a sampling of the batshitery: 
Frank Kameny, the last century’s greatest gay-rights activist, filed the first-ever Supreme Court petition challenging discrimination against homosexuals. He led some of the first gay-rights demonstrations. He was the first openly gay congressional candidate. He spearheaded the challenge to the psychiatric establishment’s categorization of homosexuality as a mental illness. He fought tirelessly against sodomy laws. He did a lot more than that. But there is one thing he never did—at least to my own recollection and that of associates of his whom I consulted. He did not use the term LGBTQ, or any of its variations.
This is partly because he was a creature of his era, born in the 1920s and active in an age when the whole argot was different. . . . . his friends say he abjured it. “My recollection is LGBT or its derivatives were expressly disliked by Frank,” one of them told me. “He would use gay to cover the full range; or gay and lesbian.” . . . . When it started in the ’80s with gay and lesbian, he correctly predicted that there would be no end of it.”
Kameny especially prized, among his many accomplishments, his slogan “Gay is good!”—a proud claim that homosexuals are heterosexuals’ moral as well as legal equals. He wasn’t excluding anyone by using the word gay. . . . He believed he was fighting for the values that define all Americans—the values he had fought for in combat during World War II. Gay rights, to him, meant American rights. Human rights.
In the past couple of years, however, I have come to believe, at long last, that Kameny was right. The alphabet-soup designation for sexual minorities has become a synecdoche for the excesses of identity politics—excesses that have helped empower the likes of Donald Trump. It’s time to retire the term and find a replacement. I propose a single letter: Q.
By 2007, when gay-rights advocates decided to make their support for a federal antidiscrimination bill conditional on the inclusion of protections for transgender people, it was clear that the gay-and-lesbian and trans movements had become politically joined at the hip; including the T made undeniable sense. Bisexual people, concerned that their issues would be overlooked, also sought acknowledgment, and their initial was stapled in too.
And so the unwieldy four-letter acronym reigned. It had its advantages. It signaled factional inclusion to those inside the movement, and factional solidarity to those outside the movement. In that sense, it was good politics and good symbolism. But it wasn’t stable. . . . Lately LGBTQ seems to have become the norm, on the assumption that Q, for queer, can stand in for all the rest.
LGBTQ is pointedly coalitional and inclusive, and we chose it ourselves. In that respect, its intended message is admirable. But it carries an unintended message as well: an embrace of the identity politics and group separatism that have soured millions of Americans on progressivism and egalitarianism.
For me, the ugliness and unwieldiness of LGBTQ add insult to injury. As does the fact that it is not a label that accurately describes me or any other American. It describes a coalition, yes, but not any actual person. Even as it seeks to explicitly include groups, the concatenation of initials implicitly blots out individuals.
Kameny’s preference for a single, simple, overarching designation was well founded. It deserves to be rediscovered. Today, however, that designation can no longer be gay, which, apart from being gendered, won’t do for transgender people. Queer is inclusive, but its radical baggage and derogatory undertones have precluded its mainstream acceptance. And so, herewith, my modest proposal: Q.
In my view, the author is delusional if he thanks "Q" won't immediately be substituted with "queer" by homophobes and anti-gay hate groups.  There’s more bloviating in the piece and what’s striking to me is that “queer” blots out individuals even more so than LGBT.  Plus, there is the reality that many of us, myself included, do NOT consider ourselves “queer” and loath that label.  The author's suggestion would do great harm to the movement in my opinion.  And lastly, I state for the record that any organization that tries to label me as “queer” and then asks for financial support from me will experience two things very quickly: (i) the monetary donations will cease immediately, and (ii) I will likely sever all ties with the organization. 


Sixpence Notthewiser said...

LOL I see the author's point. It's the old 'we take the bite out of the word before they use it' technique. I think it needs to be LGBT and Q. Because Q is for queer but also for Questioning. And there's tons of people who do not fit in the LGB.

Anonymous said...

"Q," if extended to mean queer, connotes "weird." There is nothing more weird about LGBT than straight. I don't want to adopt a negative slur as a description of my minority. Nothing is wrong with LGBT or "gay."