Friday, October 24, 2008

The ever-expanding acronym LGBT/LGBTQ/LGBTQQIAA is a manifestation of the impossibility of discretizing the many dimensional continuum of human sexuality. In its longest forms, it is certainly cumbersome, but in its shorter forms it is certainly very recognizable as something more inclusive than "gay": We do not all need to be boxed together, but sometimes we do need a rallying cry to be free. However much one dislikes the acronym, one can hardly envisage setting up an LGBT group that did not have some combination and permutation of the people it was supposed to include.

It is also, however a statement inseperable from its history and within that aesthetic is unsurprising that it has grown. It has grown because many people over time have disagreed with the status quo, and have been disheartened by remaining prejudices within LGBT society: race, class, age, mysogyny, prejudice against transgender people etc. The growth of the acronym is a reflection of its users understanding of these prejudices and a consequential affirmation of inclusivity. It would be churlish and counterproductive to condemn people for attempting to be inclusive! Labels such as "politically correct" denigrate the utterly laudible actions of those who are sufficiently analytical to try to care about the way they talk.

Nonetheless, those who do perpetually extend the acronym are misguided: there will never be a satisfactory acronym or label that describes the sexuality of everyone since any label that affirms who it includes must do so by omitting those who it excludes. We can rid ourselves of the question of who to include by understanding the fundamental principle at stake: that discrimination for any irrelevant reason whatsoever is unjustifiable. I would contend that the labels we choose ought to communicate this truth as fully as possible. Metaphors like "Spectrum", liberating statements like "Out" are far better than boxes like "LGBTQQIAAS".

Sunday, October 12, 2008

In an ideal world....

I've heard this phrase a great deal recently. "In an ideal world.." in my experience is a phrase all too often used to dismiss perfectly sensible and practical solutions for society's ills and to subsequently propose whatever ill-conceived compromise the speaker has in mind. When we're spending a budget, there may not be a solution that satisfies all the constraints, and then of course a debate has to take place to prioritize those constraints.

But the quality of debate is NOT a constrained quantity: we can debate at as high or low level as we like! And that means we should keep in mind ideals at all times. Deconstruction of "truth", "deception" and "religion" may make pleasant poetry, but in politics there are real effects and real consequences that cannot be excised by application of inverted commas. Rather than form an opinion and then cherry-pick evidence that appears to support it, one should look for evidence and then form an opinion. Not idealistic at all, this is a strategy that seems to me to be quite mundane.