What's in an abbreviation? WorldPride 2014 organizers go long with 'LGBTTIQQ2SA'
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The abbreviation WorldPride 2014 organizers use to describe the queer community is difficult to remember, even for its members.
LGBTTIQQ2SA, used by Pride Toronto since 2009 to identify most groupings among its members, references 10 sexual minorities: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, questioning, queer, two-spirited and allies.
“To make the umbrella that big . . . I guess to a degree that’s OK, but to another degree, where does it stop and where is the individual pride?” said Deva Datta, a Church Wellesley Village resident who has been openly gay for more than 30 years.
Stemming from a revolt against the umbrella term “gays,” LGB emerged as the first abbreviation to group various sexual identities in the late 1980s. Since then, it has evolved from LGBT to LGBTQ, LGBTQI and finally to today’s 11-character version.
Sean Hillier, co-chair of Pride Toronto and WorldPride 2014, said there’s always debate about the abbreviation in the queer community.
“Our community’s a very political community, so there’s always going to be a debate about inclusion and, ‘Is it necessary to have such a long (abbreviation),’ ‘Does LGBT not cover it?’ ” Hillier said.
“Our organization’s standpoint is that we have gone with the (abbreviation) because it represents the vast majority of our community, while recognizing that it still doesn’t represent everybody.”
Pride Toronto uses one of the longest abbreviations in Canada. Hillier said it is becoming the standard for pride organizations across the country.
“Historically, it’s been very, very constricted in that there are many, many segments of our community. It has continued to expand as our community has continued to demand acceptance and to be recognized fully.”
The local organization is not looking to expand the abbreviations any further, Hillier said. The last change five years ago saw the addition of an “A” for allies, a heterosexual person who stands up for the queer community. Any future change would have to be approved by Pride Toronto’s board of directors before it is introduced.
He admits people do get stuck on the length.
“I think the great thing about a long (abbreviation) is that people question it. People don’t know what the “T” stands for, people don’t know what the “Q” stands for, or don’t know what “2S” is. This actually leads people to ask questions, to say, ‘What is two-spirited?’ and to look into that.”
Some members of the queer community think it’s easier to stick with what people know.
Datta, 46, said when he first came out at 14, the queer community went by LGBT, for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. He was unaware of the official abbreviation in use for ongoing WorldPride festivities.
“I think in some way they’re trying to expand the school of thought toward what homosexuality is. I think the chairpeople of WorldPride are really trying to be inclusive, but I think to some degree it can be a little overboard,” he said.
“LGBT is pretty self-explanatory,” said Connie Valin, who is in town from Alberta for WorldPride 2014 with her girlfriend.
“I would just keep it simple so that everybody knew what you were talking about. Keep it LGBT.”
L is for Lesbian: A woman attracted to other women. The word lesbian is derived from the Greek word lesbios, from Lesbos, the home of the Greek lyric poet Sappho, who expressed affection for women in her poetry.
G is for Gay: Slang for homosexual, when a person is sexually attracted to people of one’s own sex. Typically refers to men in its modern sense.
B is for Bisexual: A person who is sexually attracted to both men and women.
T is for Transsexual: A person who emotionally and psychologically feels they belong to the opposite sex.
T is for Transgender: A transgender person’s self-identity does not conform unambiguously to the conventional notions of male or female gender.
I is for Intersex: A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit typical definitions of female or male.
Q is for Queer: Queer can be used as an umbrella term to refer to the entire community. First used in the early 20th century, queer was originally an offensive term used by heterosexuals. More recently, queer has rebounded as an in-group term used positively in place of homosexual or gay.
Q is for Questioning: Questioning refers to a person’s process of exploring and discovering their own sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
2S is for Two-spirited: A tradition in many aboriginal communities that considers sexual minorities to have both male and female spirits.
A is for Allies: People who do not identify as a sexual minority but who stand up for their rights. People who do identify as sexual minorities can also be considered allies, for example a lesbian who stands up for the rights of transgender people.