The LGBTIAQ+ alphabet soup of alternative gender and sexuality

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The terminology of queerness has been evolving rapidly over the past few decades, moving with our new understandings and expressions of who we are and what we want from sex, love, romance and our own gender role in all of those relationships and otherwise. Sometimes this can get confusing. Even the use of LGBTIAQ+ includes a “plus” sign to show that this set of terms is expanding, and not exhaustive. We are not at the end of this discovery of who we can be and who we are – and who we have lost in the past.

“Queer” was a pejorative term for a long time, and some older LGBT, intersex and asexual folk do not accept it as a term to use for themselves. Others have reclaimed it, celebrate it and proclaim it loud and proud. We’re here, we’re queer, get over it!

But what if you don’t think you’re queer? What if you think it’s offensive, or too broad (like calling people human, which is true but unhelpful as an adjective)? Then this blog, which uses “queer” an umbrella term, is complicated for you to read. LGBT might seem simpler for you, assuming you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. 

(Bisexual has become a difficult term too lately, because it has been both reviled as being too binary and celebrated as meaning the same as ‘pansexual’ – and there are more terms growing within the pansexual/bisexual population to address nuances of love and desire.)

Different terms have been put together to attempt to solve the question of the perfect umbrella term that includes everyone and excludes no one. (My personal favourite is QUILTBAG – Queer/Questioning Undecided Intersex Lesbian Bisexual Asexual/Aromatic and Gay. But this too leaves out non-binary people, pansexual people, demisexual people and all the indigenous other genders that fall outside the western binary of male and female.

I personally use “queer”. But I also find that sometimes I find it more inclusive though less convenient to use LGBTIAQ+ and hope that the “+” will cover many sins. 

The difficulty lies in the fact that there was a giant idea of “normal”, a man and a woman for whom.sex and gender are intrinsically intertwined, who partnered and had children. This was a monolithic idea, and still examined only within the narrow confines of those two binaries – whereas those of us who are forced by our natures and desires to break out of that binary idea(l) have an advantage in that we can be anything – we can stick to previous ideas of L, G, B and T or we can move forward and delve into what we are and rediscover the parts of ourselves ‘normative’ society three away. 

Generally, I think of our collective confusion/fluid categories as a feature, rather than a bug. In this brave new world, we are finding out what people we are in it, and a little uncertainty is hopefully a small price to pay.

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