You know how it is. You get caught in some maelstrom, Covid in this case, and forget important dates in the calendar.
Your wedding anniversary. Wife’s and/or girlfriend’s birthday. Children’s confirmation and/or bar mitzvahs (today’s young people like to keep their options open). All such milestones can fall by the wayside in general tumult, much to your later embarrassment.
Embarrassment is exactly what I feel for having overlooked yesterday’s vitally important event. Actually, it’s known by another snappy acronym, IDAHOTB, but I think the one in the title communicates its positive content more clearly.
IDAHOTB stands for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, which all progressive people, among whom I proudly number myself, celebrate with great pomp on 17 May.
Yesterday, the pomp had to be somewhat subdued due to Covid, but what matters is what happens in one’s heart, not out in the street. And my heart, while singing a joyous song of praise, is saddened by the negative overtones conveyed by the preposition ‘Against’.
While acknowledging the noble need to rise against HTB and, for that matter, HIV, I still believe that we should above all celebrate the lifestyles those HTB mongers attack. If some troglodytes have panic attacks at the sight of differently sexual persons, which is what ‘phobia’ really means, they don’t deserve recognition even in a negative context.
Hence another, admittedly slightly longer and to most people enigmatic, acronym is better suited to this glorious occasion. Yes, ladies, gentlemen and others, this acronym exists, and I think it should replace IDAHOTB.
That is, the ID part could remain, as in “show me your ID, and I’ll show you mine”. But it must be followed by LGTBQIA2S+.
Perhaps some may feel the term doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as, say, HIV. Still others may not even know what all the initials designate. Since my purpose in life is mostly didactic, I’m happy to fill this shameful gap in popular education.
LGTBQIA2S+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit, Plus the countless affirmative ways in which people choose to self-identify.
What the term lacks in concision it makes up for in inclusiveness. For example, if you choose to self-identify affirmatively as, say, Napoleon Bonaparte or Teresa of Avila, you’ll no longer be committed – you’ll be celebrated.
My slight problem is the double meaning of the Q. Until I learned this essential acronym, I thought Q referred to the Aramaic proto-Gospel later used by the Evangelists. Its existence is accepted by most theologians, even though it was never found.
However, what until now has been accepted by most progressive people is that Q stands for Queer in the now common acronym LGTBQ. This is one example of an insider word, offensive when outsiders use it, proud in the mouths of actual Qs (the n-word is another such).
Yet progress is expansive. As our sensitivity to the widening plethora of affirmative identity grows, so does our lexicon. That much is par for the course.
It is therefore natural that Q should now also designate torn souls pursued by what Dostoyevsky called ‘accursed questions’. In this case, the accursed question is what mammal (or perhaps an avian or marine creature) the affirmative identifier would like to copulate with.
My objection isn’t to the substance of the new Q category, but to the somewhat clumsy language in the acronym. I’d suggest that the lesser evil would be simply to add another Q, for the acronym now to read LGTBQQIA2S+. The more, the merrier, wouldn’t you say?
But we shouldn’t get hung up on such technicalities. Instead we should celebrate this occasion, if only belatedly.
Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau yesterday issued a rousing message of welcome: “No matter who you love or how you identify, you should be able to be yourself without fear.”
Again, I applaud the sentiment while taking issue with the language, and it’s not just the use of who where whom would have been appropriate. All those –phobias in H, T and B refer to the inordinate fear troglodytes feel for the affirmatively identified H, T and B persons, not the fear felt by them.
This possible confusion is another reason for renaming the International Day as I suggest. “We are all stronger when we embrace diversity …” concluded Mr Trudeau, and I couldn’t agree more.
We must all embrace diversity and anything else that moves or even, at a pinch, doesn’t. Diversity to us is what Mother Earth was to Antaeus, a source of titanic strength, and moral judgement be damned.
Happy LGBTQIA2S+ Day!