I think most people know the LGBT acronym, standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, which has been used for a long time. I don’t know how long, but I know that’s how I first heard the acronym several years ago. Nowadays it’s often written as LGBTQ, although people often get confused about whether the Q stands for Questioning, Queer, both, something else entirely. And I guess that’s the biggest problem of the acronym; confusion.
Writing and saying LGBTQ does start to become a bit of a mouthful, but it’s still leaving so many people out. The longest I’ve seen it written is LGBTQIA. Here we’ve got the A, standing for Asexual, Aromantic, Agender and (???) Allies, and I for Intersex, which is not the same as transgender, non-binary or agender. And even once you’re writing a 7 letter acronym it’s missing people out. Where’s the P for Pansexual and Polyamorous? Why should demisexual/romantic people have to share the already over-crowded A?
I absolutely support people using these labels, and I absolutely condemn the (minority of) (usually) straight people who make ‘jokes’ of writing the acronym with many random letters, or who say they are all ‘made up’ labels. I also understand that for many people, particularly those who are heterosexual and cisgender, it can be difficult to keep track of such detailed, ever-developing language.
But I hope that you, whoever is reading this, can understand how it feels to not be cis-het, but be left out of the acronym. I can only speak from the perspective of being asexual, but I imagine other people share my feelings. Every time I see someone write or say LGBT, or LGBTQ, or more recently frequently LGBTQI, I think ‘but what about me?’ (a very selfish thought, I know, but I’m only human). It feels like just another reminder that so much of society ignores my very existence, and why I still don’t feel able to come out to most of my friends and family. Not because they wouldn’t accept it, because they just don’t know what it is. But this isn’t just a problem of a predominantly straight society. So many people within the LGBT community only talk about LGBT or LGBTQ, which feels even more like being shunned from what should be a safe, welcoming, inclusive community.
As I said, I understand how confusing it can get. And in general conversation you probably don’t have breath left for that many letters, and if you do it just hurts your jaw after a while (is it just me who dislikes acronyms in general?). But! There is an easy way to get around this. A way to include EVERYONE, without having to remember so many letters and orders etc. And that is the +. Just in case anyone is unfamiliar with this, the plus sign (written +, said ‘plus’) can be added to the end of the acronym to mean ‘and others’. A lot of the time it is used. But a lot of the time, and not just by straight people, it is neglected. You might think it is a small and insignificant detail, I mean, who even notices? Me, I notice. Sure, I’d love it if everyone included asexuality and all other identities at all times, but I’m perfectly happy to sit on that little + rather than be completely left out.
Seriously, I don’t expect many people to really understand how much impact the presence or absence of a + can have on someone (outside a maths class), I was surprised by my own feeling on the matter. But please, whoever you are, listen to what I have said, and do one thing for me. Every time you need to talk or write about people who are not cis-het, use the plus. LGBT+, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA+, whatever you use, just add the +.