We Are Not Your Afterthought: responding to LGBT Soup

TW for cis gay privilege that could make your eyes bleed. Don’t read this at work unless you have office walls thick enough to withstand obscenities.

There are some phrases that, when you see them in an article, you know aren’t going to lead to anywhere good. “Political correctness gone mad”, for one. “Some of my best friends are…”, for another. “I’m not a ___, but..” is definitely one. One of the phrases that takes the proverbial biscuit (and a lot of other proverbials), though, is this one:

Now, before you run off to compose a face-meltingly indignant email to the editor..

When the writer already knows that they’ve written something to get their readers face-meltingly indignant, things can only go two ways. It could be that they’ve come up with something so new and wonderful that it’ll take the rest of us years to get our heads around. Far more often, though, you’re about to read something that will have you facepalming so hard you end up with permanent dents on your forehead. If you’re unlucky, you might not be able to stop yourself from muttering obscenities at the screen in the middle of your office.

Fortunately for me, I read this at lunchtime.

LGBT Soup, eh?

The article in question, LGBT Soup, is an argument- if you could call it that- that The Community needs to go back to basics, get rid of the alphabet soup acronyms and call ourselves something more simple. In itself, this isn’t terribly controversial. It’s accepted that the LGBTQQIA communities have one hell of an unwieldy acronym, and plenty of attempts have been made to change it to something that’s at least pronounceable. Some people use Queer as an umbrella term. Some go with GSM for Gender and Sexuality Minorities. QUILTBAG (Queer Unidentified Intersex Lesbian Trans* Bi Ace Gay, as far as I’m aware) has been around for years. We’re a diverse set of communities, though, so none of them have yet stuck. So far, so good.

What’s all the fuss about?

The problem is that the author, Ciara McGrattan- who works as an assistant editor for GCN- thinks that what we need to do is get rid of all those pesky Ls, Bs, Ts- and god forbid Qs, Is and As- and go back to basics. That what the LGBT community needs is to call itself the gay community and shed the rest. Check out her charming way of proposing this:

I propose it’s time to simplify and perhaps employ a modicum of moderation to the unwieldy beast of LGBTLMFAO initials. Do you sleep with people of the same sex? Welcome to Gay Club. In a relationship with someone of the same-sex? Welcome to Gay Club. Trans and exclusively attracted to people of your gender? Welcome to Gay Club. Attracted to both sexes? Good for you, but unless you’re withsomeone of the same-sex, you aren’t part of Gay Club.

So, for the purposes of accuracy and economy of expression, LGBTetc should be replaced with ‘gay’. Just gay. That’s all. Simple. Elegant. Accurate.

Offended yet? To start with, there are the wildly biphobic inconsistencies within that very paragraph- if you sleep with people of the same sex, but are attracted to people of other sexes, then you can only be in Gay Club during the time you are actively with someone of the same sex. Gay Club works by negative marking, it seems- one stray glance at a particularly fine differently-sexed specimen of humanity and your Gay Club membership is revoked unless you are, at that very moment, actively involved with someone of the same sex. FSM forbid you be single.

And this, my friends, is McGrattan’s concept of ‘accuracy’. Hold on to your large glasses of gin, though (you don’t have one? If you’re ever inclined towards gin, I’d recommend one)- this gets far, far worse.

A little history

McGrattan has an interesting view of history. Here’s her impression of a half-century of queer activism:

By the mid-20th century the word [gay] began appearing as a synonym for homosexuality and, after briefly being hijacked Enid Blyton as the perfect noun to describe a spiffing day picnicking in Cornwall, was adopted by pre-Stonewall friends of Dorothy.

And so the ‘gay’ community, in name at least, began.

In time, the homosexual ladies felt unrepresented by ‘gay’ and so the word ‘lesbian’ (first coined in 1925) was included to refer to all those women suffering from the sexy, but burdensome, pain of same-sex attraction.

So, the gay community became the ‘gay and lesbian’ (GL) community. Then in the ’80s, perhaps because L and G were feeling lonesome, ‘bisexual’ (B) was added. GLB became the initials of choice for political correct citizens in describing the gay community.

By the 1990s ‘T’ (for transgender) was tacked on – despite the obvious difference between sexual orientation and gender identity – and the LGBT initials now familiar to all was born.

McGrattan seems to be going for a cheery, light-hearted tone here. However, let’s take a look at her language and what it implies. Gay is a synonym for homosexuality- yep, that’s true. Lesbians felt unrepresented by ‘gay’- also the case. We’re okay so far. Bisexuality, on the other hand, was added “because L and G were feeling lonesome”. And as for Trans? Well, that was “tacked on”.

Let’s talk about subjectivity and objectivity. To be a ‘subject’ in this case is to be an agent- a person who feels, thinks and acts. To be a subject is to be an individual worthy of consideration in your own right. To be an ‘object’ is what it sounds like. It’s to be treated as a thing which is only relevant where it affects others.

Do you see what McGrattan did there? Gays and lesbians have feelings and perspectives. Lesbians get to be underrepresented. Bisexual and trans people, though? What people? They’re just labels.

McGrattan, in a couple of paragraphs, blithely erases decades of struggle and activism by everyone but cisgender monosexual gay people. In an article that mentions Stonewall. Stonewall. The event that sparked off the modern queer liberation movement when people rioted because they were being arrested for wearing non gender-normative clothing. Let’s remember for a second that it wasn’t the respectable gender-normative gays who rioted at Stonewall. It was queers and queens.

McGrattan needs to give herself a history lesson, because she feels that the first the LGBT movement heard of trans people was in the 1990s:

By including an identity not specifically referring to same-sex attraction (T), the flood gates were opened. Now, before you run off to compose a face-meltingly indignant email to the editor about the unseemly transphobia of GCN, consider the fact that gay and trans are not synonyms. ‘Gay’ refers to same-sex attraction only, ‘transgender’ to the state of one’s gender identity.

But enough of history. Let’s talk homophobia and transphobia.

Homophobia, transphobia and gender policing

As we saw above, McGrattan feels that gender and sexuality are two entirely separate things and that there is no good reason for trans and LGB gay people to ally with each other. I guess McGrattan must be lucky enough to be one of the rare LGBT people who has never been the victim of homophobia. She’s lucky. Me, I’m not so lucky. Let me tell you a story, k?

I don’t generally get much homophobic abuse these days. Hardly ever, in fact. If I do, it’s when I’m with my partner being obviously queer in public. It sucks and it hurts, but we are lucky have a couple of intersections going for us that keep us under people’s radar a lot of the time.

I wasn’t always so lucky. I used to get a hell of a lot more homophobic abuse than I do now. It used to be a regular thing that happened most times that I left the house. The difference?

I used to look like this:

6ddb

Now I look more like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These days, you can’t always tell that I’m queer when I walk down the street. Why? Because the way that I present myself is more gender-normative. Because, inaccurate as stereotypes about gender and sexuality may be, they inform the snap judgements that every person I walk past makes about me without even knowing they’re doing it.

Gender and sexuality may be entirely separate- that’s a complicated conversation for another day. Homophobia and transphobia, though? Are and always have been inextricably intertwined. I get less homophobic abuse walking down the street with my arm around my partner now, than I did ten years ago walking alone. Homophobes don’t give a rat’s ass about the intricacies of our identities. They hate us the same either way.

Which leads me to McGrattan’s next point.

Intersex? Ace? Poly? What are they doing in MY movement?

When exactly did LGBT become the dumping ground for every non-heterosexual orientation?

Remember how homophobes and transphobes don’t tend to be too concerned with the precise nature of your personal identification before starting the hate party? It turns out that the people who oppress and marginalise cis mono gay people tend to be only to happy to include the rest of us. It’s funny, isn’t it? In a way, the homophobes have a better understanding of why the LGBT movement is the umbrella it is than McGrattan does. They know that what unites us all is that we are outside heteronormativity. McGrattan doesn’t seem to get it.

What McGrattan needs to understand is that this is not her movement. It’s not her community. It’s ours.

The LGBT movement was never meant to be one person’s identity. Every relationship form and desire other than monogamous heterosexuality is, to one extent or another, marginalised in our society. And we are all minorities- individually, at least. We are an umbrella. We join with each other to provide solidarity, safety and community. To create a space where the norm is to be, yes, something other than cis, straight and mono.

The LGBT movement is not and never was for cis gay people only. If you think it was, go and read Sylvia Rivera‘s stories of how drag culture was forcibly erased by assimilationist cis gay people after Stonewall.  Those of us on the other side of the acronym- the Bs, the Ts, the As and Qs and Is and all of the rest of us- have always been here. If McGrattan doesn’t know that, then it is because we have been ignored and erased by assimilationist cis gay people who found our existence inconvenient.

But you know something? I am not an afterthought. Trans, intersex, asexual and intersex people are not afterthoughts either. We are not something to be tacked on after the big-G of the gay community. We are here, we have always been here, and we are not going away.

Not Good Enough

In the day since this article was published, our LGBT community and wonderful allies have expressed appropriately massive outrage. GCN have responded in two ways.

They published an astoundingly insulting editor’s response. This response included the phrase “we apologise to anyone who feels offended”. This kind of apology is one we’ve all used. You know when you think someone is massively overreacting to something you’ve done? And you say something like “I’m sorry you feel that way”? You’re not really sorry. If you genuinely regret something, you’ll say that you’re sorry for the thing that you’ve done. Not for someone’s emotional response to it.

As for the rest of the response? It doesn’t get any better.

It is important to point out that the opinions expressed by our columnists, both in the magazine and on-line, are their own and not the opinions of the NLGF or GCN. … Ciara is the Deputy Editor of GCN, but her column is personal opinion.

GCN are unwilling to take any responsibility for this column, despite the fact that it was written by their Deputy Editor. Presumably another editor was also involved in deciding to print this piece. They continue with this:

 Her opinion may not be popular, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a right to express it. Anyone who responds to her column has a right to express their opinion too. This is the basis of free speech.

The alternative is not to publish opinions because everyone might not agree with them.

No, GCN. That is not the alternative. The alternative is to be a publication that takes its responsibility to the queer community seriously. One which does not publish degrading speech about the community it claims to serve. On this matter, I have a question for GCN. Would you ever publish a piece stating that gay people have no place in the LGBT community? Would you say that publishing homophobic vitriol in GCN is necessary if we are to ensure freedom of speech?

If not, then remember: you are treating everyone other than cis gay people as second-class members of the LGBT community.

The other thing that GCN have done is invite anyone to write an opposing article to be reviewed for publication– in GCN. If anything could show that this is nothing more than a cynical attempt to drum up controversy, it’s this. But more than that- this shows clearly that GCN have no trouble bulldozing over entire communities within the LGBTQIA umbrella if it suits them. Transphobia, biphobia, erasure of ace, intersex and poly identities? Not a problem. To GCN, it’s nothing more than ratings.

{advertisement}
We Are Not Your Afterthought: responding to LGBT Soup
{advertisement}
The Orbit is still fighting a SLAPP suit! Help defend freedom of speech, click here to find out more and donate!

50 thoughts on “We Are Not Your Afterthought: responding to LGBT Soup

  1. 2

    It seems to me, having quite a few friends in the lgtb(and the rest of the alphabet) community, that for gays/lesbians, a big part of the battle has been fought and won, with a few skirmishes left. While years ago, everyone was welcomed to climb on the chariot, to fight for equality, as there was much to fight for. But now, it seems that with victory in sight and many battles won, the community no longer seems interested in guarding the flanks of their smaller allies, who’s struggle is far, far from over. The attitude of “we are big and safe now, lets cut off the ballast” is not unique to this particular group and can be observed with other movements through history. It is just really sad that we, as human beings, have not yet learned that adopting the attitude of exclusion is a very poor form of gratitude for battles hard fought and won. It defies the notion of equality where we insist that some are more equal to others. There also seems to be a hostility to those who were willing to jump on that chariot and were straight, but believed that the right of their fellow human, to be what they are, was worth to join the battle. Then there are people who’s sexual identity doesn’t fit in a box that easily. From my own experience, they connect better with those so-called smaller fringe groups. They understand what it is not be understood, to be excluded and they welcome anyone who will go onto the breach with them, one more time. So how will the “gay” part of the LGBT.etc community react if they see someone harassed that is bi-gender, trans or bi-sexual? “oh, yeah, that used to be my problem, but not anymore”? I hope not, lest instead of fighting indifference to intolerance, they will become part of the indifference, and that would really be sad…

    And as to those gays/lesbians who are my close friends, you know I am not talking about you, as I love you all for who you are; human beings…. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. 2.1

      Franky, I have two responses to your comment. Firstly, the battle is not over for cis gay and lesbian people. Far from it. Secondly, you seem to think the phenomenon of some cis gay and lesbian people trying to distance themselves from trans, bisexual, and other people within the quiltbag is a new phenomenon. It isn’t. Like the author of this post says, this was happening in the immediate aftermath of the stonewall riots! It has been happening for as long as gay and lesbian people have been demanding their rights. Some have stood together with the rest of the quiltbag, but some have wanted to distance themselves. Early gay rights campaigners in the U.S. for example used to wear suits (the cis men) and dresses (the cis women) as a tactic, trying desperately to present themselves as “normal” while on silent, polite demonstrations outside civic buildings. It isn’t a sign of gay and lesbian people being on safe ground now, and drawing up the bridge to stop others joining them. It’s always been part of the struggle, since day one.

  2. 3

    This is one of those times when we an be grateful to an asshole writing in a rag that has become a tired exuse for ad space. If it were not for the deluded vitriol of Ciara McGrattan, I would never have seen THIS truly impressive piece by Aoife O’Riordan. I leave her writing feeling enlightened, warmed and so positive about the future. To know that we have just one O’Riordan makes us so stronger despite the many McGrattans out there.

    1. 3.2

      Also: connecting with people like you is one of the main reasons why I write. When we read things like McGrattan’s article it’s easy to feel attacked and isolated. By communicating in places like here that we do not think these kinds of things are okay, we don’t just make our community stronger. We make ourselves feel a hell of a lot less alone as well.

  3. 4

    I’ve always felt that a large number of the political L’s and G’s have been very happy to have the B’s and T’s on board simply because when it comes down to negotiations they have two groups that they can throw under a bus. Because politics is the art of concession…or as I said throwing people you don’t give a crap about under a bus.

    Most of the non-political L’s and G’s I’ve known are perfectly wonderful people. Happy to share the QUILTBAG umbrella, and the occasional bed of a B or T. And there are more than a few of the political ones who feel the same.

    But the problem I see is that it’s those bi/trans/IS/Ace/queerphobic pricks who seem to be the quick ones on their feet. They nab the loudspeaker, hijack the message, and woops squished bi’s and trannies, again.

    “So sorry lovies, sacrifices have to be made for the greater *mutters the real people here” good. But hey have a place in our parades, they’d be so much smaller without you and gather us less of that nice moolah we need to fund our campaigns.”

    I can, and long ago, did get over the fact that many lesbians don’t see me as in any way female. My response was to rebel and decide “I’m not a girl huh? Fine, fuck you then, I’m a futagirl, and bigirls shall fall at my feet.!”

    I got over the fact that many gay men seem to enjoy getting their rocks off making snide comments about me, how I look, and how my having a girlcock makes me some sort of gender traitor. (man it was hard to find a word that wasn’t outlaw right there.) “You know what lads, you’re just jealous because I look amazing in this mini-skirt, and not only is my cock is bigger than yours, but my boobs are smaller, and not created by copious application of beer.!”

    The ones who do see me as me, who do find themselves accepting that I am a girl with an outtie and that I have a place in their community…well a fair few of them are very special friends. Because they are the ones who make me feel like I belong in womens spaces, in lgBT spaces, that it’s okay to be me when I’m out, that I’m safe. And to a woman/man they’re also the ones who think bifolk are pretty damned nifty.

    (Ummm wow that sort of exploded just there…slinks out the backdoor.)

    1. 4.1

      “My cock is bigger than yours”??
      It’s not really surprising that some lesbians don’t accept you as female when you use loutish male language like this.

      1. Snark is ‘male’, now?

        Also, as per the comments policy, transphobia is not acceptable at the Tea Cosy. Referring to the anger of a trans woman as ‘male’ is the kind of tired silencing language that really did go out of fashion in the 80s. It is unacceptable here and if you do it again you will be banned.

      2. I am not post-op. I am honest about my body. And in response to people who use that language in an attempt to harm me I feel it is perfectly justifiable, and neither male nor loutish. Besides I have heard some of those same lesbians use precisely that language about their strap-ons etc so…

    2. 4.2

      Explode away, lovely! That’s some righteous anger you’ve got there.

      And y’know, you’re right about the fact that many, many Ls and Gs are wonderful allies to the other side of the acronym.

  4. 5

    When you said that it was likely that I would need to worry about obscenities randomly flying out of my mouth, I thought you were using a phrase of art. Then I found out that I don’t get to be part of the Gay Club unless I happen to be dating a guy, and the curse words started.

    I mean, I am dating a girl, but slept with a guy last night, so does that count? Or, as a bisexual, am I only part of the club when I am actively with another man? Is hand holding ok, or must my roll call response be muffled by a full mouth?

    The article then kept getting worse and the involuntary obscenities continued.

    I get that some people are frustrated that their exclusive little club is getting bigger, but maybe it’s time to grow up and realize, as you pointed out, that the discrimination faced by all of these people is the same. I like to say that I am not gay, but I am gay enough that homophobes don’t see the difference.

  5. 6

    Hi Aoife,
    This is a great piece of writing and really impressed me. I don’t fall into any of the LGBTQIA categories so I can only imagine how hurt and angry people who do felt at this idea they don’t belong or fit anymore. As a straight person this saddens me so much “but we are lucky have a couple of intersections going for us that keep us under peopleโ€™s radar a lot of the time.” The idea of having to keep parts of yourself hidden in every day life is bad enough (and unacceptable) without being told you don’t really have a place or identity in an LGBT community either, that you’re either in the “gay” club or you’re not. Now, I know that just because this controversial article was published doesn’t mean people have to believe it or accept the argument as having any validity but I think it really is damaging to have it published by the GCN and I think you’ve done a great job in challenging it. Well done. You’ve got yourself a new reader, too.
    Margaret

    1. 6.1

      Thank you!

      It is always, always sad that we sometimes need to hide who we are. But y’know, I’ve also seen a massive change even in the years since I came out, and a lot of that has been thanks to allies like yourself as much as LGBTQIA folks. So thank you! And looking forward to hearing more from you ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. 7

    Little known fact about me, I got the firsst B added to the a UNI l&G soc in the UK, I was petrified, I wondered how proper gay people would feel about me, a fence sitter, traitor and lesbian who didnt know her own mind (all things i was told by the political lesbians of the day) asking to have a voice, to be included, to be recognized.
    It mattered to me so much because my teenage years were hell ,I didn’t even seem able to do gay properly, liking men and women just seemed so wrong, I knew gay and lesbian people, they had a place, somewhere to belong. I faced homophobia, but didn’t have the community to turn to. I was actually told to leave the one young persons gay group I screwed up the courage to attend, because I wasn,t gay.
    I was 17 years old.

    So yeah, those letters she doesn’t want, they matter, they matter a hell of a lot, but it seems to be the way of things these days, throw out everything in order to conform to hetronormative cis values.

      1. Right account this time, the attending the young persons group took every ounce of courage i had, i cried all the way home.
        I attended a couple of uni meetings and the fact it was mostly male helped, when I suggested the B there was no opposition, but there wasn’t a quorum. The next week instead of the usual 6 or 7 attenders there were about 25, and lots of people (coughs lesbians) demanding it not go through. Luckily I didnt have to speak, the chair was a lovely Irish woman (aren’t they all :-)) who spoke about solidarity and the need to widen who was offered support.
        My uni had the first gay soc in the UK, and the majority saw this as in keeping with the ideas that had been brought back from stonewall.
        I wasn’t so much brave as desperate to belong somewhere!

        1. M

          Thank you. Glad also that your effort was received well enough to pass. It is unfortunate that we cannot count on this, instead relying on chance and the kindness of whomever.

  7. 9

    God I hate the “Free speech” argument. I’ve had similar annoynaces lately when “freedom of association” and “personal boundaries” are used to exclude people which is another excuse you often see from people like that author(think TERFs and transwomen). I wish people would stop taking noble concepts and turning them around into weapons used to defend those of relative privilege.

    This article reminds me a lot of my debacle with the @rcade(which has a gay editor) and the reader’s choice poll having pewdie”rape”pie as an option. When they finally decided to run a piece on feminist issues, their first thought was to get an ordinary guy to comment on it; “Is gaming still a man’s world? A man’s perspective” etc. etc. What really annoyed me about this is how all the really challenging things were shoved under the carpet. The editor himself put up an article saying how GREAT it was be to be a Gaymer. This sort of positivist mentality bothers me, it’s very Irish just to just ignore the fact that there’s a real issue, and it’s very Irish to act ignorant of the needs and struggles of those you should be regarded as being in the same boat with.

    Even though the author in question is a lesbian, there’s still the same awkward and ignorant tone to it. I find like with the above example, you get these sort of sheltered gay types who don’t understand intersectionality and the difficulties the rest of us face. The people saying this stuff are usually fairly privileged white gay cisgendered men, but it’s not unheard of for fairly privileged white gay cisgendered women to talk like this either. Not that it makes it correct or incorrect based on who’s saying it of course – it just gives you more perspective on why they’re saying it.

    I’ve seen so much infighting within the trans community lately that this article erasing us *entirely* was just too much to stomach. Even within the trans community, you get a degree of privilege – girls who had the advantage of passing younger and passing quite well, assign all their success to “Hard work” and look down on older transitioners as fakes and others who don’t pass as lazy. And if they’re popular enough, you’ll be the one accused of making a fuss – not too different to the division I remember on places like GCN where other LGBs were telling us not to be so concerned about the Paddy Power ads, that we were making a big deal out of nothing.

    That article in of itself is full of the same sorts of excuses and technicalities. There’s no heart to it. Maybe she feels embarrassed associating with ugly trannies like myself, but I’d feel terrible being associated with people like her.

    We should be a unified front because we need to be. If you don’t understand why, then maybe do some research before writing an article you *know* is going to offend someone. If GCN doesn’t want to become the Daily Mail of Irish Gay Mags it needs to be better than this. If it’s going to claim “free speech” here then we have the right to point out that it’s not really serving the LGBT community at all, and is only promoting division and exclusion.

  8. 11

    I stopped going to my school’s lgbt club because of shit like this. I was told to my face by the lesbians in the group that they don’t trust bisexuals and would never date one. yah, some support group that turned out to be…

    1. 12.1

      I’m wondering how long it’ll take before McGrattan starts calling us the Liberal Leftie Bandwagon Of Political Correctness Gone Mad Who Can’t Take A Joke or suchlike. I mean, assuming she ever deigns to bother answering for herself at all. So far there’s been a particularly stinging silence.

  9. 13

    Great, concise response to a piece of writing undeserving of being awarded the platform of publication in Gay Community News. So much for equality, tolerance, inclusivity and solidarity. Free speech is not at issue here. Ciara McGrattan has a right to voice her opinion but GCN did not have to choose to publish her article.

    Fundamentally what is at issue here is speech being used to exclude persons from community. GCN stands for “gay” “community” “news”. Sure, it’s gay. But Ciara McGrattan cannot be said to be a voice for any meaningful idea of community and the aspect of most public interest here is that an editor of GCN has used her position to voice speech which seeks to divide and exclude.

    Ciara McGrattan’s speech seeks translation into actual different, discriminatory treatment of persons who belong to gender and sexual minorities. Therefore, the extent to which it deserves any special protection under the right to free speech is debatable. GCN should be held to account for choosing to publish such speech.

  10. 14

    Like most of the commenters to Aoife’s excellent and very erudite piece, (thanks Aoife, it really is so well written and analytical, and without ever stooping to the low levels of the article to which you’re responding) …. I too am appalled by Ciara McGrattan’s bigoted and very ‘right-wing reactionary’ screed.
    I am also quite saddened, for so many reasons.
    Was it for this that I took to the barricades in the 1980s and early 90s? For this that I gave my activist hours to the campaign to legalize homosexuality in Ireland? For this that I put myself in very real physical danger, time and time again?
    No, I did all of those things so that every single person, each and every one, who has ever felt marginalized by the rigid, narrow, limiting, and frankly quite harmful paradigms of gender and sexuality that so-called ‘modern Ireland’ forces down the throats of its citizens, so that all of us could have a voice, could foster some sort of family, could feel like we belonged to a community, could feel loved by our own.
    And now, with this very bigoted and transphobic pile of ugly and hate-inducing prose, I find that GCN themselves are subscribing to those self-same narrow and dangerous paradigms of heteronormativity, or, lets call it homonormativity.
    WTF, indeed!
    And since this story broke I’ve been thinking to myself, how could the assistant editor of GCN get this soooo wrong?
    But then one of the commenters above really put in in perspective when they said that GCN has become little else than a poor excuse for advertising space (or words to that effect) ……
    And isn’t that it in a nutshell?
    What with several clever, funny, intelligent, engaging, critically-thinking, and, most importantly, inclusive blogs and internet pieces, which are driven by a true sense of QUILTBAG solidarity, so easily accessible to us all, it really seems to me that GCN is going the way of many right-of-centre newspapers in an effort to self-publicise by garnering a bit of scandal; and thus gain ‘readership hits’ – or whatever it is they can show to potential advertisers. With this downright transphobia, it really feels like GCN are riding on the coat tails of the recent Julie Burchill debacle in the UK media. You can imagine in their offices: ‘did you see that trans fight in the Guardian! Quick, lets get a bit of that pie! Before it goes cold!’
    And I really, really, REALLY don’t need to read this sort of reactionary, bigoted clap-trap in a paper that claims to speak for counter-normative sexualities and genders in Ireland, when I can get the exact same stuff online in the Independent, the Irish Times, and the Daily Mail (and sometimes the Guardian). Those websites have, at least, prettier pictures, decent book reviews, and usually a telly guide.
    The more I look at GCN, both print and online versions, the more I think ‘oh, its all so 1990s’; and as the years go by GCN holds less and less relevance or meaning for me or for the way I think about contemporary enactments and expressions of gender and sexuality.
    I certainly don’t NEED to know anything that they’ve published for several years now, nor would I go looking for vital information pertinent to my life as a queer man in his 40s living in Dublin. In short, GCN could disappear forever, and I probably would not even notice.
    It is writers and bloggers like Aoife who keep me not only informed, but also keep me thinking critically and creatively about what it means to be a politically aware queer man in today’s world.
    GCN — go clean your house, get with the times, get a make-over, ditch the dead wood, and start becoming aware of the sheer joyousness that the QUILTBAG rainbow of diversity has to offer to all of our lives.
    For, United We Stand, but divided we fall — and GCN seems to be falling fast.

  11. 15

    This is an absolutely beautiful blog, and makes me happy to know there are still people like you under our umbrella! A really excellent reply!
    I’ve written a reply on my own blog and just wanted to check if it was okay if I linked to your blog and used some of your links?
    Thank you so much, you incredible person!

  12. 21

    I was absolutely shocked that crap was published in the GCN, and outraged that the deputy editor is trans/bi-phobic. Thank you for clearly expressing those sentiments, this is a great piece! I have hope when I read blogs like yours ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. 22

    This article provided me with an unexpected education at a very early hour in the morning! I had that feeling of ‘Aha!’ that I get when something is intuitively true, but I just hadn’t thought of it before. Looking forward to reading more.

  14. 23

    Yep, GCN selling out yet again. I remember writing to them to complain about a fashion piece that glamourised anorexia, met by same refusal to take responsibility for the position of influence that they have. I also am incensed by the lgbt scene’s intolerance of diversity. When looking at homophobia (or any other intolerance) it is usually noted that it comes from people who are insecure about their own position. To have someone write from this unexalted place is hardly adding to our betterment. It’s tabloid drivel and joins the ranks of corporate media in attempting to dumb us down. Thank you for speaking out for real freedom, not the crap they are thinking it is.

  15. 25

    […] “The LGBT movement was never meant to be one personโ€™s identity.ย Every relationship form and desire other than monogamous heterosexuality is, to one extent or another, marginalised in our society. And we are all minorities- individually, at least. We are an umbrella. We join with each other to provide solidarity, safety and community. To create a space where the norm is to be, yes, something other than cis, straight and mono.” We Are Not Your Afterthought: responding to LGBT Soup – Consider the Tea Cosy […]

  16. 29

    I hate hearing about such horrible cases of homophobia as you have experienced. I can’t understand how people can be so hateful… You were beautiful in both of your pictures. As for McGrattan…For someone that has supposedly struggled as a member of the LGBT (sorry, I’m not up on all of the acronyms :/) community, you think she would be more sympathetic to those who are also struggling… It makes her somewhat of a hypocrite doesn’t it?

  17. 30

    since all the links are dead and the article seems to mia

    here it is
    LGBT Soup
    There are so many letters being added to LGBT, it’s getting way out of hand. Lets get back to basics, says Ciara Mc Grattan.

    Whos up for a little light etymology?
    In the beginning, there was the word gay, a late 14th century term meaning: full of joy, merry: light-hearted, carefree, deriving from the French word gai, originally thought to be Germanic in origin.
    Through the centuries the meaning of gay changed, gradually inflating the joy angle to connote a hedonistic, uninhibited lifestyle full of frivolous fun, carnality and gluttonous desires.
    By the mid-20th century the word began appearing as a synonym for homosexuality and, after briefly being hijacked Enid Blyton as the perfect noun to describe a spiffing day picnicking in Cornwall, was adopted by pre-Stonewall friends of Dorothy.
    And so the gay community, in name at least, began.
    In time, the homosexual ladies felt unrepresented by gay and so the word lesbian (first coined in 1925) was included to refer to all those women suffering from the sexy, but burdensome, pain of same-sex attraction.
    So, the gay community became the gay and lesbian (GL) community. Then in the 80s, perhaps because L and G were feeling lonesome, bisexual (B) was added. GLB became the initials of choice for political correct citizens in describing the gay community.
    By the 1990s T (for transgender) was tacked on despite the obvious difference between sexual orientation and gender identity and the LGBT initials now familiar to all was born.
    By including an identity not specifically referring to same-sex attraction (T), the flood gates were opened. Now, before you run off to compose a face-meltingly indignant email to the editor about the unseemly transphobia of GCN, consider the fact that gay and trans are not synonyms. Gay refers to same-sex attraction only, transgender to the state of ones gender identity.
    Also consider that open dialogues on this particular subject LGBT nomenclature are few and far between. Why? Because no one wants to be accused of being a bigot. For the record, I support the trans community in their quest for equality. But as big a fan as I am of sensitivity to marginalised individuals, I am more concerned with accuracy of language.
    The same spirit of inclusiveness that created the LGBT initials now threatens to smother it with superfluous letters. But where does it stop? Already in liberal arts colleges in the US LGBT has become LGBTQIA: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual/allies.
    Seriously now. Asexual? Asexuality is the absence of sexual attraction to anyone same-sex, opposite-sex, whatever. When exactly did LGBT become the dumping ground for every non-heterosexual orientation?
    Now, a truly staggering array of letters have latched on to the LGBT initials. Other additional variations to the LGBT soup recipe include: pansexual, omnisexual, trisexual, agender, bi-gender, third gender, polyamorous, and on and on. Some groups have taken to just using LGBT+ to connote the endless additions. While I applaud their pragmatism, it still seems to be avoiding the real issue: since LGBTetc has come to mean everything that isnt exclusive heterosexual sexuality and now contains almost as many initials as are in the alphabet, isnt it time to reassess the situation?
    Even the current LGBT mouthful is unnecessarily long, when gay suffices for all same-sex attractions. This doesnt cover bisexuals, you might argue. It doesnt need to: bisexual is only a description of what someone is doing when theyre not same-sexing it up. The T doesnt need to be there either, as gender identity and sexuality are two different things. While, its obvious that the trans and gay communities fight the same kinds of fights, and as such make logical allies, trans individuals, are not part of the gay community by virtue of their non-traditional gender orientations (except the ones in same-sex relationships, naturally).
    So, I propose its time to simplify and perhaps employ a modicum of moderation to the unwieldy beast of LGBTLMFAO initials. Do you sleep with people of the same sex? Welcome to Gay Club. In a relationship with someone of the same-sex? Welcome to Gay Club. Trans and exclusively attracted to people of your gender? Welcome to Gay Club. Attracted to both sexes? Good for you, but unless youre with someone of the same-sex, you arent part of Gay Club.
    So, for the purposes of accuracy and economy of expression, LGBTetc should be replaced with gay. Just gay. Thats all. Simple. Elegant. Accurate.

Leave a Reply