When I was growing up back in the cretaceous period, there were many words to describe homosexuals: queers, poofters and fags being common. Needless to say, these words were used in a derogatory manner – a kind of verbal put-down for the intolerant to assert their supposed superiority, or insecurities, against those who were different. In my younger days, it was almost always aimed at men – almost as though devotes from Lesbos didn’t exist.
The first step in neutralizing obnoxious descriptors is for a community to define themselves, with their own language and words, rather than having language and words imposed on them. Starting somewhere around the 1950’s, the word gay was promoted by men who loved men as their chosen alternative to other terms. The word gained currency and became an alternative to those who chose to use it.
The evolution of language in this regard isn’t unusual. As a young man, my father worked for a short time in a mental institution where descriptors of the mentally challenged, based on ‘intelligence quotients’, classified some as ‘high’ and ‘low’ grade morons. Over the years the word moron took on such negative connotations that new, and supposedly less offensive, terms came into usage: mentally disabled or challenged became common.
As many in society became more tolerant of sexual variations, it seemed that gay was insufficient and was soon paired with lesbian. Those who felt different from either of these led the charge to add transgendered and bi-sexual to the mix. Being a bit of a mouthful, it was much easier to use the acronym LGTB.
But even LGTB failed when it comes to encompassing the full range of sexual orientation. We’ve lately seen q added to the rest, although I’m not sure it stands for the old derogatory queer or the newer term for ‘questioning’: LGTBQ. But some believed we shouldn’t ignore the asexuals (a) or those who are intersex (i) so we now get LGTBQ+.
Our first nations brethren have traditionally used ‘two spirit’ to describe this diverse community and it’s so simple and effective that there were those keen to add it to the existing acronym – LGTBQ2S+
Would it be intolerant of me to suggest that the ever-expanding acronym is not serving anyone’s interests? It’s getting to be a mouthful and the meaning becomes hazy to the many who can’t remember what it all stands for. Personally I liked the word ‘gay’. It’s a happy word whose meaning could be expanded to include all the alternatives. I’d be equally happy to promote ‘2 spirit’ in a like manner. I think it’s better to make the meaning of small words more inclusive than to end up with a mouthful of an acronym that might soon look like LGTBQ2S+XYZTOTHEPOWEROFTEN.
TL:DR – Sometimes less is more.