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Apparently There Are Too Many Letters in the LGBTQ+ Acronym

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Welcome to ¡Hola Papi!, the advice column where John Paul Brammer helps people work through their anxieties, fears, and life's queerest questions. If you need advice, send him a question at [email protected]

 

¡Hola Papi!

I have always disliked the fact that people keep adding on to LGB. Sorry, but I just disagree with it. In my opinion, it should only be LG. All the others are just jumping on the bandwagon or hanging on to our coattails for the sake of advancing their cause from our hard work — and I do mean hard work.

I am a 77-year-old man and my 83-year-old husband and I have worked for 53 years to further the cause of gay men and women! We suffered through the 60's and 70's to be respected and accepted. Now, everyone with a different sexuality wants to benefit from this.

Now that the Supreme Court is going to take up the issue of discrimination against "sex,” I fear that this will end up being LGBTQACDEFGHIJKMNOPRSUVWXYZ! Can you see my point?

Signed,
No Alphabet Soup

 

Dear Soup,

Thank you for the question, though it was more of a comment, really. This is an advice column. Part of the gig is asking me something in the hopes that I can help you answer it. The question you gave me to answer is if I can see your point, so I guess we’ll go with that: I do not!

It’s not that I’ve never encountered this rhetoric before from cisgender gay people or that it’s too complicated to understand. I just think you’re needlessly problematizing the simple act of being a decent person. No one is asking you to join a protest or be a vocal advocate for trans, bisexual, or nonbinary people. No one asked you anything. You’re upset because you’re choosing to be upset. It honestly makes me want to add emojis to the “LGBTQ+” alphabet just to give you something to be mad about.

I’m not trying to dismiss you, nor am I accusing you of lying about working for gay rights in the 60’s. But I’m not willing to pretend like I haven’t read a book for your sake, because I have. Your portrayal of what trans people (for one example) were up to in those days aren’t accurate. We know the names and contributions of specific trans leaders like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, people who were on the front lines when the “respectable” thing to do was to make yourself invisible. These were figures who, since the days of Stonewall, motorized queer liberation in the first place. Dismissing them isn’t just insensitive. It’s revisionist.

Adding to that, I’m not 100% sold on your characterization of the Supreme Court as it relates to the queer alphabet. There are a lot of reasons to be afraid of the Supreme Court right now, and I don’t think that them turning “LGBTQ+” into a fifty-character WiFi password should be one of them.

So, no, I don’t see your point. My advice to you would be to rethink what your aims are when it comes to our community. Whatever degree of mainstream acceptance we enjoy today would have been entirely impossible were it not for the contributions of the people you’ve erased here, and if we cared about those people at all, we would recognize that the desire to be “respected” comes at their expense.

Personally, I don’t care how many letters we add to our little alphabet and I don’t care if people joke about it. I care that there are people who don’t feel safe walking around in this world as themselves, and I find it supremely hypocritical for cisgender gay people to turn their backs on them because the system that used to not so much as allow us to breathe in public decided to be marginally less heinous to us over time.

The truth is, we live in conversation with each other. There is no homophobia without misogyny, without transphobia, and so there is no liberation without all of us getting there together. There are perks that come with deciding you’ve already got yours and throwing everyone else under the bus, sure. But you shouldn’t confuse your perks with freedom. This is something that our community activists knew well, and it’s why we have anything that we do today.

And even if we lived in a parallel universe where we didn’t owe anything to the B’s and T’s and Q’s, what, are we dragons hoarding treasure or something? Why would you not want to share the good things you have with someone else? What’s in that for you? Do you think them having it would cheapen it for you somehow?

We won’t win by replicating the hierarchies that oppressed us, Soup. We will win by recognizing that our problems, the systems that marginalize us, are branches nourished by common roots. As a way to perpetually remind us of that fact, I advocate adding the tree emoji to “LGBTQ+,” as well as the squid emoji. I just think he’s neat. Look at his tentacle. He’s like “AAAAAY!” Let him in.

With love,
Papi

 

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