Monday, June 18, 2012

In Defense of Alphabet Soup

NCAA. NASDAQ. YMCA. ROTFL. NAACP. LGBTQ.

Just a few examples of long acronyms. Now, guess which one people frequently complain about--claiming it's too long, too complicated or too hard to remember.

LGBTQ.

So why does this particular acronym get so much flack? If people are up in arms about 4 to 6 letter acronyms, then they should at least be consistent about it and start hating on NASDAQ and YMCAs as well!

Interestingly, the LGBTQ acronym doesn't just get flack from straight people--I've heard many a queer complain about "alphabet soup." Folks wish that there was one word to use or that we could just go back to "lesbian and gay" or that we didn't need to use labels at all.

The reality is that as long as we have heteronormativity, we need labels. Labels allow the LGBTQ community to be seen and heard in a society where anyone who doesn't look "alternative" is assumed to be straight. The LGBTQ acronym acknowledges the intersections of our non-normative identities while also indicating with each letter that there is no simplistic or monolithic queer identity. Saying "the gay community" or "lesbians and gay men" just doesn't cut it.

So can we agree to stop complaining about alphabet soup and put that energy towards more fruitful fights? A few of these include increasing the number of schools with non-discrimination policies that include both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression; addressing the ridiculous un- and under-employment of transgender people; and calling attention to the fact that almost three-quarters of LGBT murder victims are people of color.

We have better things to debate than the length of an acronym.

2 comments:

  1. I totes agree with you! The only think I don't like about the alphabet soup is that claiming any certain group of letter inevitably leaves some out. But there doesn't seem to be a more succinct way to pretty well describe the spectrum of non-cis and non-hetero gender identity and sexuality.

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