Don’t Call Me LGBTQ
In the January/February issue, Jonathan Rauch made the case for adopting one overarching designation for sexual minorities. He proposed using a single letter: Q.
What a relief to read something about the absurdity of the “alphabet soup” designation for gay people. I totally agree with Jonathan Rauch that it has become a symbol “for the excesses of identity politics,” which have fueled animosity and intolerance toward homosexuals. I’m amazed that anyone would add more letters to this train wreck.
You will never promote more tolerance and peace in the world by diminishing individuals into ever more exclusive and reductive parts. Large, broad categories are much more efficient and easy to understand.
No, a thousand times, no!
Jonathan Rauch makes a valid point about the awkwardness of LGBTQ as a term to represent sexual minorities, but to substitute simply Q would be a huge error. While Rauch mentions the baggage of the word queer (which Q would inevitably reference), he gives no sense of the fact that queer was the primary name assigned by society to homosexuals before gay came into popular parlance in the later 1960s. And queer was not descriptive in a positive way. It was ugly, hateful, pejorative, demeaning, and diminishing. It is not the right word with which to be labeled, if one must be labeled.
I don’t personally identify as queer, but because I had a couple of decades when gay was the overall descriptor whether one identified as such or not, I’m fine with queer being the primary descriptor for the next couple. The word has long since been taken away from the haters and used as a term of empowerment rather than degradation.
New York, N.Y.
Here in rural Virginia there have always been plenty of Q people. But no one uses LGBTQ or queer, and they won’t use Q. The entire project of requiring names or labels is unworkable with rural people—and with working-class people generally, wherever they live. It is primarily a project of academic elites, cultural elites, and self-interested parties in national or state “identity” organizations.
The thesis of this article appears to be something akin to: Inclusion has become too confusing for us old-timers, and the straight white males of our country are inclined to resent the community the more it grows. So how about we just roll back decades of progress because it would make the powers that be happy?
Straight white males in America have never had to fight for their civil liberties; they have been endowed with such rights since the conception of the country. The entire pursuit of civil rights in this country has been a game of catch-up; women and racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities aren’t pursuing “special rights”—the pursuit has always been one for equal rights.
So when Rauch posits that the LGBT+ community should contract to include only the “queer” classification, he is effectively suggesting that a nuanced and complex community should strip its members of each of their respective, hard-fought identities so as to appease the very community that would so willingly dismiss and oppress the LGBT+ community altogether.
I was thrilled to read Jonathan Rauch’s compelling piece. I agree emphatically with his sentiment, one that I have had myself for years (I research queer people and provide therapy to queer individuals and couples). The critique he makes of the ever-increasing LGBTQ initialism, with the continued exclusion of at least one group (often more), is spot-on, especially as the quantity and diversity of sexual and gender identities continue to grow.
I would just like to draw attention to two shortcomings I noted while reading Rauch’s article. First, an additional critique of the acronym that was omitted is that each of the four identities subsumed within the most ubiquitously referenced acronym (LGBT; or lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) assumes gender and sexuality to be binary and static, which science overwhelmingly indicates is false. As nonbinary gender identities and fluid sexual identities continue to emerge—especially among young people—there is even more reason to drop any acronym and use a term that is, as Rauch describes, “simple and inclusive, and carries minimal baggage.”
Second, I challenge Rauch’s use of the phrase sexual minorities in reference to LGBT people—transgender people are not inherently sexual minorities. A more representative phrase would be sexual and gender minorities.