Umbrella phrases

Last weekend I went to Melbourne’s Midsumma Carnival to volunteer at my work’s stand for a couple of hours.  The weather was lovely, the people were fantastic and I had a really great time.  Just one thing bothered me, and it’s the thing that always bothers me, because language is a powerful thing.  Let me be very clear

Gay and Lesbian do not equal LGBTIQ.  Gay does not equal LGBTIQ.  Lesbian does not equal LGBTIQ.

I am SO over seeing organisations call themselves “Gay and Lesbian” and expect that I’m going to be comfortable with that.  I am SO over seeing the media, and activists, and detractors say, “Gay and Lesbian” and think that covers the whole spectrum of people in this community.

“Gay and Lesbian” is not an umbrella term for the LGBTIQ community.  If you use those terms and think that you are being inclusive, you are not.  You are excluding all bisexuals, trans* and intersex people.

“The Gays” is not an umbrella term for the LBGTIQ community.  In using that you are excluding lesbians, bisexuals, trans* and intersex people.

I am bisexual.  If you want to include me in your organisation, if you want me to feel that your organisation also offers me space and time, if you want me to feel that your organisation represents my interests in anyway, then you have to include me in the title.  It is not enough to say “Gay and Lesbian”, then mention LGBTIQ once in your literature and think that you’ve now included bisexuals, trans*, and intersex people.

It’s not “gay marriage”, it’s either equal marriage or same-sex marriage, because there are other people than gay men who’d like to marry their partners.

I know that LGBTIQ is unpronounceable.  The pronounceable equivalent often used in Australia is queer.  I know that some LGBTIQ people have issues with the word and struggle to reclaim it, but it seems to be used widely as shorthand for the LBGTIQ community.  If you have trouble with queer, then feel free to use QUILTBAG.

Q – Queer and Questioning
U – Unidentified
I – Intersex
L – Lesbian
T – Transgender, Transexual
B – Bisexual
A – Asexual
G – Gay, Genderqueer

Every now and again I write to queer organisations who claim to represent the LGBTIQ community, but who only call themselves “Gay and Lesbian [focus of organisation]”.  Every time I receive a response (which isn’t all that often sadly), I am told that they do indeed represent the LBGTIQ community, they just thought they’d use “Gay and Lesbian” as shorthand or as the most identifiable part of the LBGTIQ acronym, or that there are members on their committees who are separatists who don’t like the LBGTIQ acronym or acknowledging anyone other than gays and lesbians.

It’s disheartening.



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