If you’re reading this blog, you’re no doubt familiar with the initalism LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual or Transgender) that’s used to refer to a large proportion of the non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgender population.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg, as the initialism can be further extended to LGBTQIA, where the Q is for queer or questioning, I for intersex and A for asexual or ally. It is in fact also possible to extend it even more to LGBTTQQIAAP, or other fun pronounceable variants like QUILTBAG and FABGLITTER.
But what do these labels serve to do for us as a community? Does having so many different labels that enable self-actualisation and ownership under the same umbrella unite us in our diversity, or do they assist segregation within the community, thereby pushing us apart? How, in fact, did we end up together in the same camp in the first place?
Certainly this comes down in large part to history.
The gay liberation movement in New York that grew out of the Stonewall riots of 1969, for example, was mostly organised by gay men, and subsequently received support from gay women in solidarity to their cause.
By extension, others who identified as non-heterosexual were drawn in to taking part and so the community grew and so the umbrella expanded to include more and more different kinds of identities and orientations.
Of course, I see this is a wonderful thing. I am moved by such inclusivity, and am deeply proud to be part of such a community.
But nowadays we have pride events and awareness initiatives aimed at specific segments of the LGBTQIA community as they become more and more independent from one another. We have bisexual awareness week once a year, and several cities in North America (Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco, DC and now Brighton in the UK) have trans pride events separate from the main pride events.
As we are gaining autonomy from each other, does the LGBTQIA community still really exist?
In one way, the fact that it may no longer be necessary is a great sign of the progress towards equality (and indeed the perceived ‘normalness’ of such identities as gay, trans or genderqueer) in several societies around the world.
Nonetheless, there is still a lot of work to do, and I believe that solidarity with any (historically or currently) oppressed minority can go a long way to progress the cause of equality.
So even though it might potentially bother a particularly touchy leather dyke in a committed dom-sub triad with her two slaves somewhere to be mentioned in the same breath as a squealing power bottom drag queen who likes hooking up with bears on Grindr, our solidarity for each others equality is ultimately more important.
Maybe we should just expand our initialism to include all the letters of the alphabet and embrace them with equal love and compassion.
LGBTQIA: Alphabet Soup was originally published by Sam Wood on the best gay travel website: My Gay Travel Guide - hand-picked gay travel info, stories & tips