Alphabet Soup

I use the word ‘gay’ because I self-identify as a gay guy. But it has another, broader meaning too. It means all of us, within what has been termed the ‘rainbow family’.

Most often, this is depicted as an acronym in any one of the following forms:

  •      LGBT
  •      GLBT (it isn’t always a case of ‘ladies first’)
  •      LGBTI
  •      LGBTIQ
  •      LGBTQA

The L, G, B and T are pretty self explanatory. The I stands for Intersex. Q can mean a few things depending on who you’re speaking with, usually though it means Queer or Questioning. A can mean either Ally or Asexual.

READ – How Open Minded Are You?


I understand the intention behind this alphabet soup acronym. It’s about recognising that there’s more to our community than just the most visible elements of it (mainly gay men and lesbians). It’s also about inclusiveness and creating a space for everyone. I completely agree with these intentions as they align with my own values and beliefs.

I believe that everyone, no matter where they may be on the gender and sexuality spectrum deserves to be recognised, included and treated equally. Isn’t that where this is ultimately leading us to? By naming ourselves and creating an identity, we can then become a cohesive group fighting for recognition, inclusion and equality.

It might also seem a bit strange, or even counter-intuitive, but I don’t think the alphabet acronym actually achieves what it sets out to. When you start to break things down by name, for the element of inclusion that exists, so does its opposite, namely exclusion.

What about polyamory? What about pansexuality? What about androgyny? What about intergender?  What about pangenderism? What about two-spirits?

READ – My Love/Hate Relationship With Gay Travel


While the intention behind the acronym is a good one, and one I strongly agree with, it doesn’t include everyone because – it’s impossible to do just that. There comes a point where you have to draw a line in the sand for the sake of brevity, and also basic understanding. The longer and more complex an acronym becomes, the greater the chance of it losing its meaning. Worse yet, it’s meaning could become a joke or something to ridicule, which is completely counter-productive.

So a line in the sand is needed. And there are going to be groups on one side, and groups on the other. But rather than seeing it is a win-lose situation, there is an opportunity to just see it for what it is. We need one broad term for all of us. This magical, broad, all-inclusive term doesn’t currently exist. (Can someone please get Dan Savage onto this?) So, we need to use the language we have now. It’s not perfect, so lets not measure the message by letters or words, let’s look at the intention.

But this is the linguistic context we find ourselves in. Until something better comes along, we will need to continue using labels and language, letters and words that might not be perfect, but they’re all we’ve got.