We have a bit of a problem.
And when I say “we” I mean the LGBT community, otherwise known to some people as the LGBTLMFAO. Recently Ireland’s longest-running national gay publication GCN published an article that has raised a lot of comment and heckles- LGBT Soup
Now before I dive into this, there are two clarifications I want to make. Firstly that I usually really enjoy GCN and it’s writings, it’s interesting, relevant even if I find it focuses a bit too much on the G in LGBT sometimes, this is not an attack on GCN that I’m writing, but an article published by GCN and written by the deputy editor was the catalyst. Secondly, I’m majorly focusing on writing about bisexual and trans* issues and marginalization here, and being neither bi nor trans* I am admitting now that I may screw up on something somewhere, but if I’ve messed up, please tell me what I’ve gotten wrong or if I’m inadvertently offensive because I am happy to learn and be corrected.
There are masses and masses of issues I take with this piece, majorly the marginalization of bi-sexual, trans*, and asexual people, all of which I will get to in a minute.
While I do agree with the basic premise as put forth by GCN in their The Editor Responds, to write more opinion pieces and create and facilitate discussion, which I believe is the first step to changing any social opinion or feeling, and to comment on the use of LGBT and the extended abbreviations that are also added on (A quick look at Wikipedia tells me that the letters often used are LGBTQQUCITTSAPSHOFP) I do not agree with the way Ciara McGrattan has chosen to phrase her views.
Let’s start with the thorn-bush-like issue of the acronym. I think practically everyone can agree that it is too long and fairly damn confusing, but right now we don’t have anything better. Since I came out I’ve been involved occasionally with a few official LGBT groups and I really love the feeling of community that I’ve found there, a community majorly built on acceptance and openness to individuality, so it upsets me to hear other people saying that some people don’t belong in the movement. We need an umbrella term, a really big and lovely umbrella term to describe ourselves, and the community that we’re building but until then let’s stick with what we’ve got and let people add on what they need as they need? Yes it’s sometimes a bit off putting, and quite unwieldy, but is that the worst thing in the world?
Now we get into the section where I start quoting… When talking about trans* people and their place in the LGBT movement she says “By including an identity not specifically referring to same-sex attraction (T), the flood gates were opened.” … “But as big a fan as I am of sensitivity to marginalised individuals, I am more concerned with accuracy of language.“. I understand that the trans* community has issues that are not always mirrored by the issues of the L, G and B, as gender and sexuality are often separate issues, but there’s still the major point that draws us all together and means these conversations are even an issue in the first place, the fact that we all face marginalization and discrimination, and we can fight that together.
“Even the current LGBT mouthful is unnecessarily long, when ‘gay’ suffices for all same-sex attractions. This doesn’t cover bisexuals, you might argue. It doesn’t need to: ‘bisexual’ is only a description of what someone is doing when they’re not same-sexing it up.”
“I propose it’s time to simplify and perhaps employ a modicum of moderation to the unwieldy beast of LGBTLMFAO initials. Do you sleep with people of the same sex? Welcome to Gay Club. In a relationship with someone of the same-sex? Welcome to Gay Club. Trans and exclusively attracted to people of your gender? Welcome to Gay Club. Attracted to both sexes? Good for you, but unless you’re with someone of the same-sex, you aren’t part of Gay Club.”
That’s Ciara McGrattan’s view on both bisexuality and what we should use instead of our current, lovely umbrella term. And I disagree heartily with both. Isn’t the whole reason we banded together because straight cisgender people didn’t want us in their club? Now is not the time to get all cliquey!
Now, there seems to be over whelming belief from all sides of the ring, heterosexual and homosexual that bi-sexuality is not a true sexual orientation and instead is the name that people have chosen to describe themselves when they can’t pick a side, are sexually thrill seeking and therefore exploiting the feelings of the people who are “genuinely homosexual”, or are just plain greedy. When I was 14 I read a novel a friend had about a young man coming to terms with his sexuality and in the novel a friend of his who was already out warned him not to date bisexuals as they were fickle and would break his heart. Now maybe it’s just me but I don’t think that’s on.
I think bisexuals possibly even have more issues to face within themselves when coming out because they face both the stigma placed on homosexuality and and the stigma placed on bisexuality. I know bisexuals who have had a massively hard time coming out and some who haven’t come out at all because of these stigmas and articles like LGBT Soup just help continue these.
And the idea that your issues only matter when you’re in a same-sex relationship? That’s just insane. It’s saying that when I’m not in a relationship or as it was so nicely put “same-sexing it up” my issues don’t count? Is everyone asexual when they’re not getting laid in her worldview? She seems to be saying that sexual attraction is only an issue when you’re acting on it, something I massively disagree with. The whole point is that we all have a place here, anyone who has had issues along the way because of gender identity or sexuality, and personally I whole-heartedly welcome allies too. Come in from the rain under our umbrella, we’ve got soup!
Somewhat Related Links- (Mostly stolen from Consider The Tea Cosy)
Other responses to LGBT Soup-
Further Reading on B, T and Acronyms-
The Case of the Missing Bisexual