Here’s the thing. I’ve seen this trend lately, where LGBT has become LGBTQ or LGBTI or LGBTWTFBBQOMG and even fucking QUILTBAG.
Seriously? This is seriously what we’re doing?
Here’s what I see: an attempt at inclusiveness that falls short. We’re still a bunch of letters thrown together. Letters that can be rearranged, discarded, ignored on a whim. Even worse, letters that still force you to choose.
I’ve danced my way through the alphabet, and to be quite honest, the only label I would even come close to using on myself is ‘queer’. Yes, it was an insult once, but before that it just meant ‘strange’. And I see nothing wrong with being ‘strange’. I am part of a minority, and I’m fine with that. Being a minority isn’t a problem. Being an oppressed minority is.
But how can we move past that if we’re still putting each other into smaller and smaller boxes?
I would like to see an alphabet-free world. On the other hand, I see how at this point in time there are times when we need the letters. It will seem like I’m contradicting myself, but bear with me.
When I say I’m queer, what do you think it means? To you it probably means ‘gay guy’, because I’m a guy and I date men. But queer could mean bisexual, it could mean transgender, it could mean gender fluid, it could mean asexual or cross-dresser, or tomboy. Why wouldn’t I want to use a more specific term? Frankly, because—and this is where it gets queer—I’m not always queer in the same way.
Digest that for a moment. I’ll wait.
I don’t think we should be limited, forced into little shoeboxes like the letters want us to. We need bisexual people to be visible and proud, we need trans people to be visible and proud, we need asexual people and genderqueer people and all kinds of people to be okay with who they are and not be harassed for it. And we need to acknowledge the fact that people grow and change throughout life, and while I’m not supporting any kind of forced change or conversion, human relationships and identities are so complex that changes can and do happen throughout a person’s lifetime. And that is okay.
The letters are supposed to keep everyone visible, but again I see it fall short. We talk about how the T is often silent and the B is often reviled. And that is a whole other rant. I don’t want to come across as wanting to erase the individual identities, but perhaps a paradigm shift is in order.
Perhaps we should actively strive towards a culture where it truly doesn’t matter where on the spectrum you fall on any given day. Where your identity is about who you are, not about what you are or how or whom you love. We’re not there yet, not by a long shot, but I believe we can get there.
Of course, you are free to identify with whatever words or letters you prefer, and I will respect that. Whatever you call yourself, I will call you, but more than likely I will first call you by your name.
I don’t have the answers. Hopefully by posing questions there can be a dialogue that will include sharper minds than mine. And I think we are heading slowly but surely in the right direction. There are young people out there who are rejecting gender labels altogether. It’s still jarring to most, but they are brave and courageous and standing their ground right in the middle of the binary. We need to respect that courage for what it is, and treat them as they wish to be treated.
In a way, that’s what I would like to see with ‘queer’ at least in regards to myself. If you have to classify me, personally, just put me under ‘queer’ and leave it alone. I don’t want to be shoved into any boxes smaller than that. Not because I want to dismiss specific parts of me, but because I want to include all of me beyond the tiny little labels. Does that make sense?