Is It Time To Drop The Alphabet Soup And Embrace The Word ‘QUEER’?

Recently, I've been paying attention to the alphabet soup our community uses to identify itself / ourselves.  LGBT is the norm.  GLBT has been seen.  TLGB is often used when an event is more focused on Trans issues.  LGBTI has appeared in many stories involving European Pride events.  And then there was LGBTTQ which I think we actually used when I was in college back in the 1990s. It seems like depending on the region of the country / world and what you identify as will make the alphabet soup of letters become rearranged and even take on a couple of other friends.

June is LGBT pride month, an annual anti-discrimination effort made official last year with a proclamation from President Obama.

LGBT — meaning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — is a widely accepted initialism. However, a fifth letter is increasingly making its way into the line-up: Q. – USAToday.com

If you are an L are you happy you are first? Ladies first?  If you're a G, do you feel it's all about you since when LGBT is not used, Gay is instead?  Does the B belong in the third spot since they are not strictly females or into females or strictly males or into males, but both?  Does the T represent the 4th largest by population in our family so let it be 4th? And then there is the Q …

What does the 'Q' stand for?

Q can mean either 'questioning' or 'queer,' Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that lobbies for LGBT rights, told USA TODAY Network. Either interpretation is accepted, he said. –

Those who use the Q to mean 'questioning' refer to people who are in the process of exploring their identity, Ross Murray, the director of programs at GLAAD, told USA TODAY Network.

"Questioning means someone who is figuring out their gender identity and figuring out how they want to identify their sexual orientation," he said. – USAToday.com

For us, way back in the last century, I believe our Q did stand for questioning. 

Queer means many things

People use the term queer because it's not specific to sexual orientation or to gender identity but is more of an umbrella term that can encompass a lot of people, according to Sainz.

"Queer is anything that exists outside of the dominant narrative," Cleo Anderson, a 26-year-old intern at GLAAD, a prominent gay rights group, told USA TODAY Network. Anderson identifies with the term.

"Queer means that you are one of those letters (LGBT), but you could be all of those letters and not knowing is OK," she said. – USAToday.com

So if Queer is okay now in the 2010s , why don’t we reclaim it as ours, as  word of pride, as a word of unification? 

Reclaiming 'queer'

"For decades (queer) was used as a pejorative against LGBT people," Sainz said. It was demeaning and often accompanied by violence.

But in recent years the LGBT community, particularly younger people, have reclaimed the word, Sainz said.

"It's a badge of honor. It's taking back a word that was once used as a weapon against us," he said. "You find the term completely commonplace in junior and senior high school and in college where individuals identify as queer." –

Because queer is still considered offensive by some people in the LGBT community, it's generally recommended that people avoid using it other than in situations where a person self-identifies as queer.

"Use the same term to identify them that they would use to identify themselves," Murray said. "We want to focus on the person. If we're telling a story, it's not about just 'Jane is a queer.' It's 'Jane identifies as queer.'" – USAToday.com

In a recent blog from MUSED.com, the whole marriage equality movement was called out.  The main concern was that the fight put our most "straight" foot forward.

 This movement did not show us gregarious and righteous drag queens, self-loving trans folks, or resilient poor queer folks of color trying to love each other. Nor did it showcase their struggles for acceptance within their families, the challenges of being queer and finding love with one another. Instead, it was an emotional appeal to dominant norms. We were inundated with (mostly white) depictions of cisgender, visually unthreatening, lovers who quite simply wanted to get married. The message: we are no different than you; we just want our picket fences, our two children and a dog just like you. Please let us be just like you! – musedmagonline.com

Are we, the alphabet soup of LGBT, just that?  Something easy to swallow?  Mix the letters up and the soup all tastes the same?  Each letter doesn't stand out, but instead just makes us think "other?"   Is the Mused blog correct?  Did we put our most spit shined representatives forward to argue for our rights?  What if the cause had used terms like lesbian-marriage, trans-marriage, bisexual-marriage, or queer-marriage instead of gay-marriage or same-sex marriage?  Would our fight have come as far?

Going back to the Mused opinion … has LGBT, a term that has been used to give us all a feeling of belonging, actually turned us into something that is "visually unthreatening?"  And those that are represented by the LBTQ or I and not the G, did they cringe when hearing the term gay-marriage or did they not mind since it was the ends that would outweigh the means?  What groups within our alphabet did sit back and let the so called "more mainstream" members take the lead?

I don't know if it is time to embrace the word Queer, but you have to admit, it is a powerful and unifying term.  Who has yelled, "we're here, we're GLBTIQ, get use to it."  But sometimes I wonder if all of our letters and all of our separate flags do more to divide us than unify us.

How proud were we all to see the Rainbow Flag flying high, being plastered all over everything that didn't move.  It was such a unifying moment for us all. Would QUEER do the same? 

What are your thoughts?

This movement did not show us gregarious and righteous drag queens, self-loving trans folks, or resilient poor queer folks of color trying to love each other. Nor did it showcase their struggles for acceptance within their families, the challenges of being queer and finding love with one another. Instead, it was an emotional appeal to dominant norms. We were inundated with (mostly white) depictions of cisgender, visually unthreatening, lovers who quite simply wanted to get married. The message: we are no different than you; we just want our picket fences, our two children and a dog just like you. Please let us be just like you! – See more at: http://www.musedmagonline.com/2015/06/please-let-us-be-like-you-same-sex-marriage-equalitys-failure/#sthash.I6RNUMPZ.dpuf
This movement did not show us gregarious and righteous drag queens, self-loving trans folks, or resilient poor queer folks of color trying to love each other. Nor did it showcase their struggles for acceptance within their families, the challenges of being queer and finding love with one another. Instead, it was an emotional appeal to dominant norms. We were inundated with (mostly white) depictions of cisgender, visually unthreatening, lovers who quite simply wanted to get married. The message: we are no different than you; we just want our picket fences, our two children and a dog just like you. Please let us be just like you! – See more at: http://www.musedmagonline.com/2015/06/please-let-us-be-like-you-same-sex-marriage-equalitys-failure/#sthash.I6RNUMPZ.dpu

'Alphabet soup'

LGBTQ is just one set of initials being used. There are other letters and combinations — so many that some call it "alphabet soup."

Here are some of the other letters used:

A — Representing asexuals, or individuals who do not experience sexual attraction.

A — Representing allies, or people who are straight but support those in the LGBT community.

I — Representing individuals who are intersex, or people who are born with anatomy that does not necessarily fit the "typical definitions of female or male," according to the Intersex Society of North America. "For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside," according to the ISNA's definition. – USAToday.com

Thanks Lori Grisham, USA TODAY Network , for the original article.

Follow @lagrisham on Twitter

 

What do you think?