All posts edited by Madeline Ricchiuto.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A More Inclusive Acronym? LGBTQ, GSD, GSM

For many years now the term LGBTQ has been used to describe movement for gay rights. Originally the acronym had no T or Q and many over the years have added to the acronym. Letters get added for various different things. A basic rundown would be this Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Intersex, Questioning, Queer or LGBTTIQQ.

There are those who add more letters, "A's" for Allies, or Asexual (or both), P's for Pansexual, and almost countless others. However there has been a growing movement that rejects this idea of just adding more letters to this already seemingly long acronym. A more inclusive term, if you will. An advocacy group called Pink Therapy in London posted a video discussion about how and why the current acronym may not be ideal for such a movement.

I think its important to address the ideas and surrounding such terms as it can be a relevant discussion. On the one hand many people like to leave the acronym at LGBTQ. Some take the "Q" as Questioning, but I use the term Queer. Queer, in a modern activist sense is used to describe someone who is non-normative, or doesn't fit or identify with a specific label. Historically its been used as an insult, and still is today by many who disapprove of homosexuality, or non-stereotypical gender roles/sexual identities. While I very much like using the term Queer, as an umbrella term and a symbol of overcoming past struggles, many are not as comfortable identifying or describing people that way. As such using this term can still be seen as offensive, exclusionary, or alienating to some.

An alternative has been proposed on the wings of the movement for some time now. Some people like to use the term GSM. This stands for Gender and Sexual Minorities. This is seemingly more inclusive than the LGBTQ acronym as the term minority is the umbrella term. At first glance I too take a liking to this terminology. There is no one focus of the movement. The order of letters doesn't seem to suggest one group is more important than another; it doesn't even mention specific groups which I think is a plus. It seems to bring people together in a more cohesive group, rather than setting boundaries like the LGBTQ terminology seems to.

There is some dispute over the use of the word 'minorities'. There are those, myself included, who feel that by limiting it to a minority it is almost as if we are furthering the idea of being lesser, at least in the eyes of the privileged. Not only that, but it also seems to me to exclude those who might not wish to identify as a minority or aren't comfortable with calling themselves that yet (think those who haven't come to terms with their identities completely). An example might be a heterosexual couple who engages in BDSM. Being heterosexual they may not really consider themselves to be a minority, but practicing BDSM is something that I would think falls into a sexual minority category; at the very least is a group that I wouldn't want to exclude from the general movement. So maybe using the term 'minorities' isn't the best idea.

This leads to a third major option, one that was advocated for in the video posted; GSD. GSD stands for Gender and Sexual Diversities. This term rids us of some of the complex problems with the longer acronym. It takes the element of simplicity and cohesiveness that GSM does, but removes the problem of making it about having a minority status. It does seem that by changing the term to 'diversities' more people would feel at least more comfortable with identifying or attending events with such a group. It doesn't seem to exclude anyone.

The only criticism that I would raise is exactly that though; if we are to allow any gender and sexual identity into the movement, aren't we allowing those which we struggle against into the movement as well? Not to sound paranoid but, heterosexual white men already hold the power in society, how long until they claim the same power over a movement that is directed against them and the system they built against others? Its more of a cautionary criticism than anything else, but in my mind it does seem to hold a grain of truth. GSD very well may be an inclusive and welcoming term...the question is, is it too welcoming?

Since posting, this post has been published on another blog! You can see it here.


  1. Thank you so much for this! I have never felt like LGBT*Q etc.. was right and when I heard GSRM I thought, bingo! But a woman of color in my organization, pointed out that she has a problem with the m due to the fact that it comes from "minor" and while that never bothered me, I did think it was silly to continue to refer to a group so large as the minority. We have also heard of people of color being referred to as minorities despite their community and at one point women were even called minorities as well so now I am really struggling with this. While I personally, still feel like it best describes me and I honestly don't care about the minority part as I only interpret it as "less in number" not less in any other way, I feel weird hopeing it will replace the current acronym when others have these feelings.
    I see this entry is older. Have you come to any new conclusions about this? I'd love to know. Thanks!

  2. It can always be said to mean "Majority" since so many non-conforming behaviors are embraced by it. #GSMFTW

  3. It can always be said to mean "Majority" since so many non-conforming behaviors are embraced by it. #GSMFTW