When I was first out, in the early 1980s, we called ourselves the Gay community.
Then Lesbians got angry about their lack of visibility and wanted separate billing, which meant we had to distinguish the Bi people too, and soon the letters piled up into a huge jumble as everybody left out of hetero “normality” wanted in.
Sometimes gay men lament that we can’t just be the gay community again, while those who don’t want to be left behind push for ever-expanding identification.
I laughed recently when I saw LGBTQQIAAP:
- L: Lesbian. Women attracted to women.
- G: Gay. Men attracted to men.
- B: Bisexual. People attracted to both sexes.
- T: Transgendered. People who are the opposite sex internally than the body they are born into, whether male to female (MTF) or female to male (FTM).
- Q: Queer. People who don’t want to label themselves by their sex acts but do want to claim being different, eccentric, and fabulous. Reclaimed from a hate term, Queer can still be highly offensive, depending on usage.
- Q: Questioning. People still working out who they are attracted to.
- I: Intersex. People born into bodies that are not clearly, or only, male or female; hermaphrodites.
- A: Asexual. People who just aren’t that into sex with anybody.
- A: Allies. Straight people who support the XXXX community.
- P: Pansexual. People attracted to others by individual personality, not gender.
In Canada they make it LGBTTIQQ2SA by adding respect for a non-European category:
- 2S: Two-spirit. The visionaries and healers of aboriginal communities, the gay and lesbian shamans.
All of this tumult because we define heterosexuality so narrowly. As I mentioned in discussing heteronormativity, the straight world defines heterosexuality so narrowly they define most humans out of it. The result is everyone, including most straight people, wonder what they are doing wrong.
The LGBT+ community is the “everyone else” community. One of the funny things about living in San Francisco is seeing all the straight people who love the gay community partly because it offers everyone a place where narrow old restrictions don’t apply. People get to be themselves. A nice discussion of straight people experiencing gay bars here.
Part of our role as the LGBTQQIAAP(+2S) community is to make the space for everyone, straight or gay. It is the place everyone can just cut the crap and be who they are, Out and Proud.
I wish we could just acknowledge that People Vary, and leave it at that.