Monday, January 2, 2012

Acronyms and Inclusivity

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Figured this was worth cross-posting. So an anon (who isn't actually that anon anymore lol) asked me how I felt about the PFLAG acronym since I frequently discuss issues of bisexual and trans* erasure. PFLAG, if you're not aware, stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and deals with LGBT issues -- and I mean that literally, LGBT, as stated on their website. So already we have some issues with inclusivity.
Interesting question, and I’m glad you asked… I’ve been thinking about this lately.
The short answer - yes, sort of… 
It’s not something I would really complain about, because I think it’s mostly just a personal pet peeve, but… yeah, it’s kind of annoying. Especially since they tend to take it quite literally and leave out many people in the LGBTQ+ acronym. 
Every time I see PFLAG or GLAAD or someone talking about a GSA, I do personally tend to feel a little bit left out. I don’t think they mean to exclude, but sometimes it’s like a blatant reminder that there are people who don’t consider you a part of the LGBTQ+ community, or that they’ve conveniently forgotten. It all falls into that gay-or-straight binary— intentional or not, erasure is everywhere, and worse than that, it’s considered the acceptable, if not preferable, thing to do by many. Monosexist/cissexist/anti-ace ideas are still surprisingly flourishing in many groups. (GLAAD is apparently also pretty well known in the bi community for ignoring bi issues in the media… When they say G & L, they really tend to mean “G & L — oh and sometimes trans*.” I don’t think for a second they would ever even think to consider asexuality… I’ve never seen it from them before, but maybe I missed it.) So it’s even more annoying when it’s an LGBTQ+ group or person (like Dan Savage, for example), because then it’s like… how do I describe it… When the exclusion comes from within, it’s like giving non-queer identified people the ok to do it too, whether explicitly or implicitly/subconsciously. “It’s ok, they don’t really matter that much.” And sometimes, people will tell you that you’re not gay or a lesbian, so you don’t belong… you’re not in the title, so you don’t belong… That part kind of… it’s awful. 
And when the gay/straight binary carries over to the media— whether it’s that THEY take the PFLAG/GLAAD acronym literally and completely ignore bi and trans* people in their reporting or discussions, or that perhaps we have these probably predominantly monosexual groups that think that “gay” is a catchall term anyway so no one bothers to correct. Everyone is seen as either straight or gay, binary cissexual male or female, no exceptions, and LGBTQ+ media watchdogs and sites are often just as guilty of this— GLAAD and PFLAG and quite a lot of the other big LGBTQ+ groups included. And we know that “gay” NOT even close to being inclusive. 
So while on the one hand I know that they’re older groups that were started before other parts of the queer community were truly accepted or understood, and they are, for the most part, very inclusive now— with asexuality being a notable exception— I do think they have a long way to go to actually BE inclusive organizations. And if a name change is a way to start that, or at least make people more aware that there are other letters in the QUILTBAG, well then I’m all for it. 
so tl;dr - kind of, but mostly because a lot of people use it as an excuse to BE exclusive.
No, this doesn't mean I'm declaring war on PFLAG or other organizations that focus on "gay and lesbian" in their titles.  I do wish that in general society would be more recognizant of the diversity of the queer community. Every time things are referred to as gay rights, or gay marriage, or the gay community... Really? Hi. No, that's not inclusive. Really. Stop that.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've found a colony of Awful Human Beings who need to feel my rage right now. Oh my fucking god.

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