Michael first discussed this issue on Issues of Humanity. It is posted here with permission and thanks.
For many years now, the term LGBTQ has been used as an overarching acronym to refer to the expanding gay rights movement. However, growing numbers have rejected moves to simply add more letters to this already seemingly long acronym. A London based advocacy group called Pink Therapy posted a video discussion about how and why the current acronym may not be ideal for such a movement.
Issues with previous terminology
On the one hand, many people like to leave the acronym at LGBTQ; the “Q” used here to represent “Queer.” Queer is an umbrella term and a symbol of overcoming past struggles; but many are not comfortable identifying, or describing people, that way as this term can still be seen as offensive, exclusionary, or alienating to some. Some suggest adding letters which result in longer acronyms such as LGBTTQQIAA, which come with other issues. There is also a seeming paradox of using Queer to label those who wish not to be labeled.
An alternative term is Gender and Sexual Minorities (GSM). This seems more inclusive than the LGBTQ acronym and avoids some problems identified with the LGBTQ acronym. The order of letters doesn’t seem to suggest one group is more important than another; it doesn’t even mention specific groups which can be seen as a positive. It appears to bring people together in a more cohesive group, rather than setting boundaries like the LGBTQ terminology.
There is some dispute, however, over the use of the word ‘minorities’. Some feel that by limiting it to a minority it is almost as if we are furthering the idea of being lesser, at least in the eyes of the privileged. Not only that, but it also seems to exclude those who do not necessarily identify as a minority or aren’t comfortable with calling themselves that yet. An example might be a heterosexual couple who engages in BDSM. Being heterosexual, they may not really consider themselves to be a minority, but practicing BDSM is something that may well fall into a sexual minority category.
GSD as an alternative?
Gender and Sexual Diversities (GSD) seems to be a term that alleviates us of many of the above outlined issues. The term rids us of some of the complex problems with the longer acronym. It takes the element of simplicity and cohesiveness that GSM does, but removes the problem of making it about having a minority status. It does seem that by changing the term to ‘diversities’ more people would feel at least more comfortable with identifying with or attending events with such a group. It doesn’t seem to exclude anyone.
This could, however, also be a criticism of the term. If we are to allow any gender and sexual identity into the movement, aren’t we allowing those which we struggle against into the movement as well? Heterosexual white men already hold the power in society, how long until they claim the same power over a movement that is directed against them and the system? GSD very well may be an inclusive and welcoming term…the question remains – is it too welcoming?