LGBTQI2-S: Paradox or Pertinent?

By Alex Domine ’12

Alphabet soup is splashed across the title of the LGBTQAAI2S community. The extensive acronym used to refer to LGBTQQAI2S politics is now a micro-aggressive monster in conversation and turns the LGBTQAAI2S march for equality into a flounder for inclusivity.

I was in a staff meeting listening to guest speakers from the Pacific Lutheran University Diversity Center talk about LGBTQI2-S issues and micro-aggressions. The important LGBTQAAI2S topics that were to be discussed in the meeting were quickly eclipsed by the complexity of the acronym. The meeting was supposed to touch on micro-aggressions and inclusivity. Instead, it became an endeavor to focus and ignore the ten syllable obstacles that crippled our speech.

Micro-aggressions are seemingly harmless choices in language that are counterproductive to equality. For example, derogatory slangs for those who don’t identify as straight and using those terms improperly. A lot of my colleagues couldn’t bring themselves to add ten syllables to every sentence when trying to say LGBTQAAI2S, myself included.

This communicative struggle is a micro-aggression because it associates inconvenience with the LGBTQAAI2S’s demand for equality. The guest speakers justified the acronym with the idea of inclusivity and being sure that everyone who identifies as non-straight has a voice in the LGBTQAAI2S community. However, the LGBTQAAI2S community has committed treason and made our very title into our own micro-aggressive enemy. Each time someone attempts at integrating the acronym into a sentence, it is a micro-aggression that says our community is too complicated.

The guest speakers from the Diversity Center proposed that we use the umbrella term queer in conversation. They explained that the LGBTQAAI2S community has reclaimed the term queer as a way to reference all non-straight parties.

If there is a term that encompasses all ten demographics of non-straight, why don’t we just use it in the formal as well as the colloquial?

The point of an acronym is to take a title that is too long for discussion purposes and make it conducive to conversation. The acronym LGBTQAAI2S doesn’t make discussing politics any easier. Furthermore, the acronym doesn’t spell out a single word. There are plenty of acronyms that stand for several words, however their acronym spells out a single sound. For example, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) or LASER (Light amplification by simulated emission of radiation). Seven of the ten letters in LGBTQAAI2S are consonants; a single pronunciation would be impossible.

If a single pronunciation is impossible for LGBTQAAI2S, it no longer serves its purpose as an acronym. It is now a mnemonic device used to remember the different sub groups of the queer community. Queer is what we say in discussion so queer is what we should formally call ourselves.

In addition to sentence concision, using the term queer establishes concision of our identity as a whole. Queer consolidates the queer community into one entity. Using the term LGBTQAAI2S separates all sub-groups and causes people to get caught up in what each letter stands for rather than equal rights for all. Drawing lines between the sub-groups of the queer community creates intra-segregation

Racial justice wasn’t achieved by identifying which region of Africa one descended from. The fact was that they were not treated equally because of the color of their skin and nothing more.

While it may seem like I am advocating for a complete disregard for some of the sub-groups included in the acronym, nothing could be further from the truth. I have no problem with utilizing the term queer for discussion purposes and using LGBTQQAAI2S as a mnemonic device to identify sub-groups. It is not the sub-groups or the letters I abhor. I believe we are using the wrong terms for the wrong functions.

Inclusivity has gotten the best of us in regards to avoiding micro-aggressions. Formulating an acronym as intricate as LGBTQAAI2S has caused us to segregate within the queer community, unconsciously create a micro-aggression and cripple our speech. In addition, a solution has been right in front of us and we have not seized it. Using the term queer would create unity within the queer community, eliminate self-inflicted micro-aggression and restore fluid communication.

Categories: Student Life

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