LGBTQIA etc--is there common ground?

Speaking from a USA perspective, but very open to views from other countries.

The scope of publicly/commonly acknowledged sexual identities has expanded over the last few decades. I’m wondering–specifically hoping for non-hetero perspectives–how much people of these diverse identities view their interests as aligned.

As an example, would a person who identifies as asexual want to participate in a campaign for homosexual rights? On the one hand, it doesn’t benefit the asexual person directly because under current laws there’s no penalty for being asexual. On the other, perhaps tolerance for one minority leads to tolerance for all?

Look forward to your thoughts.

So, LGBT+ is not exactly a rainbow of intersecting happiness of mutual affirmation. Pretty much every group in the argument has factions that absolutely hate the others’ guts.

Early on in the movement, (that is to say, immediately post-Stonewall) Lesbians and male Gays often didn’t get along, somewhat due to '70s feminism being what it was (for good reasons), and somewhat due to gay males often being patronizing, paternal, and often acting like they can speak on behalf of the whole community (a problem that still exists today to varying degrees).

Lesbians and Gays often view bi people as a liability, because their existence threatens the “born that way” narrative that LG people carefully crafted to try and get their rights recognized in the courts, by analogy to other “immutable characteristics” such as race or sex.

Trans* is the oddest one out, but is in there for largely historical lobbying reasons. In fact, two of the largest figures in starting the Stonewall riots were self-described Drag Queens or Transvestites (though they may be more accurately described as what we call “transsexual” or “transgender” after a few decades of language shift; trans identification, language, and culture has shifted a lot over 20 years). I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that a some straight trans people resent gay people and are very heteronormative (this is more the case in some other cultures, but even here we have Caitlyn Jenner). There’s also the splinter between binary trans people and nonbinary ones, with a few nonbinary trans people basically hating the concept of gender and binary trans people, and some binary trans people invalidating nonbinary identities or doing the “it’s too hard to get YOUR rights, let’s focus on OURS first” bullshit.

That said, trans people have also faced the largest amount of alienation. As early as 1970 people were already trying to drop trans people from the acronym because they viewed trans rights as a liability towards getting LG(B) rights due to it being “a bridge too far”. There’s also a very complicated history with lesbians and trans people, especially trans lesbians. The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival being a particular microcosm of this, and modern TERFs in general consisting mainly of this old guard or people influenced by that rhetoric.

This is the OG LGBT, and it’s largely in tact since Stonewall (or arguably before, since the Stonewall Inn itself whose raid kicked off the riots catered to the whole acronym).

The exploding acronym is largely a consequence of two things from the 1990s: the pioneering of intersectionality, borrowed from race studies, and queer theory.

Intersectionality is the exploration of how different parts of someone’s identity may affect them and their relationship with privilege in different ways. It was originally a way to explore things like black feminism, or gay black women, but quickly got adopted into a broader context. This contributes to the acronym adopting more and more identities into it.

Queer theory is a whole… thing that I don’t think I can properly do justice because it’s an absurdly complicated field and nobody agrees on what exactly it even is. But it’s responsible for pioneering the inclusion of a lot of the “+” part of LGBT+, and why “queer” has been largely reclaimed as a catchall term.

As for specific ones, things like intersex came in by analogy to, and sometimes confluence with, trans*, and asexuality and aromantics were clearly by analogy to LGB. The history of any individual one is rich on its own, but not all of them were particularly uncontroversial from either end. For instance, a lot of intersex people resent being under the LGBT+ umbrella.

Younger queer people are much closer to the “big happy rainbow” cis straight people envision. It’s not without bitterness, but yes, you’ll find plenty of lesbians, or asexual people, or whatever, willing to champion trans or gay male rights or whatever. Some lesbians are still TERFs, a lot of cis white gay men are still paternalistic assholes, and so on.

This all really boils down to “this is a very, very complex topic that is difficult to address in a forum post”. You really need the context of a lot of reading and/or watching of different bits of queer history.

Wow, Jragon, this is the best post I’ve ever read on LGBTQ+ issues, and easily in the top ten posts of any kind!

I like queer theory, as I understand it, for two reasons relevant to the OP. One is that queer theory criticizes the categorization and subcategorization of people into factions that don’t always intersect happily, on the basis that it’s fundamentally so incomplete as to be practically incorrect. The other is that it makes it easier to see various social injustices including homophobia and transphobia as sharing a common thread: involving our sexual reproduction, as opposed to asexual reproduction, in some way. That is, if we were some kind of bacteria or algae or something, we wouldn’t be able to transact this dimension of discrimination in the first place. So, if you believe that none of us is free of oppression as long as any of us are subject to oppression, you realize we’re all in the same boat.

I have an understanding of queer theory that makes it analogous to principle component analysis and questioning the validity of cluster analysis for a many-dimensioned point cloud. There are Venn diagrams out there that attempt to explain, for example, orientation, or gender, and they’re hopelessly complicated. These are beautiful mathematical analytical ways of leading us to the realization that we should give up trying to explain all of us with pigeonholes and mathematical analysis. It isn’t that helpful to understand which letters of the alphabet a person fits into. Learning what that person cares about, on the other hand, is supremely helpful.

That said, I know there are people very appreciative of the categories and the identification letters, for example (in my limited experience) middle schoolers. To each their own. Queer theory certainly needs to appreciate populations who don’t appreciate queer theory.

Well, this is all FWIW.

I think the big unifying factor is that all of these people feel marginalized because their sexual identity is outside of the heterosexual mainstream.

I’d also note that there are other, less commonly known lobbying and identity groups and labels that are more focused. QTIPOC for instance (“Queer, Trans, and Intersex people of color”). Most people who fit one will co-identify with the other, but there are definitely groups that are much narrower in scope for largely practical reasons.

I don’t wear “I’m an Asexual!” t-shirts at work. I have told no one that I lack a bent in any direction, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some people have figured it out all on their own. But I’m guessing more people suspect that I’m a lesbian. However, because of the more enlightened discourse, I don’t have to worry so much about this assumption biting me in the ass professionally. I’m much freer to be me than I would have been if I had been born 40 years earlier. So I’ve benefited from the LGBT movement even though I’ve never marched in a parade or waved a banner.

Thanks for your replies. Jragon, I expect you’ll be publishing yours as a book–a very engrossing book :slight_smile:

I was aware of some of the fractures you and others brought up along sex/gender lines, as well as the issues with POC, but I really appreciate the detail.

To refine my question a little more, what’s the CURRENT political/social movement situation? Are orgs like say GMHC diversifying into other human rights issues and seeking out new areas of advocacy? Not to pick on GMHC, just wondering how and if groups like this are adapting to what seems to me like a quickly shifting landscape.

ETA, just to clarify, I’m interested in knowing about the political and transactional elements of how people are coming together–or not–to promote changes that make their lives better.

I agree. applause

Just speaking from my experience, as a lesbian in her late 30s, most of my friends and acquaintances view LGBTQA+ issues as part of a spectrum of sexuality and gender-related issues. One of my friends is a transgendered woman who has transitioned, and is in a relationship with another woman. I wouldn’t be particularly offended or surprised if they refer to their relationship as a lesbian relationship now. I’m not sure if they do or not, actually…

I would say that there is less current in-group fighting on these issues, although it exists, with younger people. There are still plenty of divisive issues, of course, such as race. But most of us all march in one parade.

Well, I learned something new today.

Question: Why arent women offended by drag queens?

I mean arent they making fun of women? Using stereotypes? Now some might say its just being funny or its art but didnt they say the same about blackface?

I’m asexual, with a lesbian sister. I had more trouble coming out than she did. People cannot understand why some people don’t want a sexual relationship.

I’ve never considered they are making fun of women (and knowing a few personally, I can vouch that they are not). I’ve always regarded them as challenging ingrained masculinity, which demands that boys must be hairy-arsed men, without deviation.

I don’t think of it as really being representative of “women.” More like a showgirl’s dressing up in exotic costumes. I suppose saying I see it as a form of performance does offer the comparison to blackface, but I don’t feel the performance is meant to degrade women so much as challenge traditional masculine behavior and boundaries.

And it’s important to distinguish this from transgendered persons, of course, which is a totally different thing with very little overlap in the communities, so far as I know.

On review: Or, what SanVito said.

Trans women are women so, yes, generally a relationship between a trans woman and another woman is referred to as a lesbian one.

Interestingly, I just read an article in The Atlantic about this.

The author’s tl;dr claim is that the ever-growing acronym is ultimately exclusionary. I think she makes a good case. I liked the following line:

She also says “Q” should become the new catch-all, which I’m not really in a place to have an opinion about.

Absolutely, and if you don’t know how women romantic partners (cis and/or trans) identify their relationship, I think it’d be proper to presume “lesbian”.

That said, people who are trans but who had not socially transitioned, and presented in both the (inaccurate) birth-assigned sex and (therefore also inaccurately) as gay, can have mixed feelings about losing the gay/lesbian identification when they transition. I know a trans, gynephilic man who was a bit startled to realize he couldn’t accurately call himself “lesbian” after transitioning (and hadn’t been accurately calling himself that for years before, but nobody knew). I wondered if it might have been that just getting accepted as lesbian was enough of an effort that he was sorry to lose (sort of) that victory.

And to the ‘not entirely one big happy family’ note…there’s a small, but very, very loud, movement to unreclaim the term ‘queer’, insisting that it’s still a slur. Primarily because it’s a catchall. Can’t imply we all deserve the same rights and respect!

Some women are offended. Mary Cheney complained about drag queens and likened them to black face in an article a few years ago.

Personally, I see a big difference. Many white folks aren’t close friends with a black person, so for a lot of people a negative caricature of black folks will not be diluted by a positive reference. However, most people are exposed to multiple positive female representatives on a daily basis. A drag queen isn’t going to convince the average person that women are all catty bitches unless that person is already inclined to believe that.

Furthermore, women comprise a big fanbase of drag performers. Not a whole of black people were flocking to watch white folks in black face back in the day.

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There’re a lot of people who object to the term “queer” because of their own experience with it as a slur when they were growing up, and who don’t want to be referred to as “queer” any more. I’m not aware of any significant resistance to the term simply because they don’t want an inclusive term for non-hetero/non-cis people in general. I mean, I’m sure it exists, because there’s always someone who’s found a new way to be terrible, but in general, people objecting to “queer” are objecting because they still view it as a slur, not because they don’t want to be grouped in with some some other group.