March 17, 2006

Subsets and Terminology

Crystal A. Fox, M.Ed. commented on a recent post:
You used the word "homosexual" in your post. Is that your chosen word for the LGBTQ community (when referring to them/us as a whole)?

Doesn't it seem too clinical and slightly reverting back to the older days in psychology when "homosexuality" was an "illness" that needed curing (in the 70s)?

My first thought was, "Why that young whippersnapper! Is she implying I'm an old fogey using archaic terminology?"

That was followed quickly by, "Hey, she tossed a 'Q' at the end of the LGBT community grouping! What's up with that? Queen? Queer? Quotidian?"

Then I thought back to the context where I had used the word "homosexual." It rarely occurs to me to speak as a complete community grouping rather than from the subset to which I belong. There was no consideration of "us/them as a whole." Does that make me small-minded? It might.

I like the word homosexual. It's easy to type, not gender specific, and can be quickly shortened to "homo" when one is in a hurry. I don't associate any definition other than "likes to sleep with members of the same sex." It's simple. I'm simple. When the whole LGBT(Q) community is considered, definitions get much more complex. Or is it just me?

I rarely use the word verbally. I'm more likely to say "gay" or "lesbian." I do, of course, reserve the right to use other appellations freely at any time or place, future or past, written or oral.

Like you, Crystal, I am curious as to what others think about it. And by others I don't mean just the LGBT(Q) community. I mean all people.

People, what do you think about it?



Dianna said...

I generally refer to myself and my partner as "Dykes", or gay, or lesbians. Whatever fits the situation...

Our girls refer to us as their "Pet Lesbians"...

None of it offends us, all of it fits.


Geeky Dragon Girl said...

Homosexual... I don't know, it just sounds so... clinical. I personally don't use it much. You find it eay to type? Hmm, let me try it a few more times. Homosexual, hjomosexual, homoseuxjal... no I'm sorry, it's much easier to type gay. Or even lesbian. I like gay though. Nice, short, and HAPPY! Gaygaygaygaygay!

Anonymous said...

You know, all the political correctness run amok in this country has led me down the garden path of thinking this terminology had reached "offending" proportions. It matters not a whit to me what term you choose to use, or even if you choose to use a term at all.

At the end of the day, it's all humanity, isn't it?

And hey. What DOES the 'Q' stand for?

Northern_Girl said...

I'd have to agree with Jennifer's comment. And how DO we find out what the "Q" stands for?

Gina said...

I think it is one of those things where the members of the group reach a consensus together.

That being said, I'm stuck on the T, is that for transsexual? Pre and Post-Op?

If it is, there is a huge difference between a Post-Op woman and a lesbian, in my opinion.

But then again, I could be totally wrong.

Crystal A. Fox said...

Let me just say that when I went to your page, for my daily read, I nearly shat bricks to see my name up there!

Okay, with that said.."Q" is for Queer.

My choice of label is "population controllers" Just Kidding!

Still loving the blog!

Mermaidgrrrl said...

I'm a "queer" grrrl. Covers all the bases and is easier than holding down the shift key for GLBTIQ. My little finger isn't what it used to be.

J said...

I was, and still am under the opinion that the "Q" stands for "Questioning."

In my home...we like...queer/dyke, and gay.

mackleysmom said...

In all honesty I have probally never used the "politically correct" terminology. My men and women friends who have partners of the same sex, I call friends, they are no different from me, they are in healthy relationships, go to work and pay their bills.

KMae said...

I LOVE DYKES!!! I am a dyke! Also use lesbian, lesbos, gay girls/women, AND homoSEXuals (I'm old, 58)(ya gotta say it like those southern, obnoxious bible-thumping, self-riteous, homophobic pulpit minister fucks.) grin.

whispers said...

first off, the Q can mean queer, or questioning. In the circles I volunteer in, its most often used as questioning...but then you might also see LGBTIQQ (which includes intersexed and both queer and questioning)..... Alphabet soup. I am all about self identified, self labled. I personally am a dyke or lesbian. when i talk about my community, i talk about the LGBT or the queer community. I don't use homosexual often...because it is the word the detractors tend to use, and when someone identifies themselves as gay i assume male, and when they say gay woman, i assume they are either clueless or if they call themselves that, i usually assume they are more closeted. complicate that by the fact that it is only one facet of who we are............

weese said...

LGBTIQQ WXYZ supercalafragalisticexipialodoshous
Thats an awful lot of very differnt types of people to put into one group.
Its all so complex these days- I guess I am just an old lesbian.

Crystal A. Fox said...

Oh, and PS: you are NOT " old fogey using archaic terminology"

Anonymous said...

I wish we didn't have to use labels at all. What does it matter who you sleep with?

- an allied straight person from MN (see? even I have a label - ugh).

Melodee said...

I actually didn't notice the term until she pointed it out.

Deb said...

I like the word "gay." Short, easy to spell, to the point. I wish we could just use gay to refer to everyone in the alphabet soup.

I know that some use "queer" to refer to us all. Personally, I don't like the word, because to my ear it conjures up its original meaning (i.e., weird, unnatural).

SassyFemme said...

I tend to use gay, sometimes lesbian. Occaisionally I'll use dyke if I'm with a group of lesbians. Generally I stay away from using homosexual because of the negativity I associate with that due to the use of it from the religious (wrong)right.

Career Guy said...

To me "homosexual" conveys a negativity, like an insulting name. "Dyke" seems harsh. "Gay" is more pleasant sounding and swings both ways. But it's all rock and roll to me, since I'm straight.

Suzanne said...

Thank you all for your input.

This whole thing has reminded me how much I don't like being lumped in a group. Any group.

I also don't feel related in any way, outside of us all being human, to transexuals, transgendered, bisexuals, questioning, or intersexed (thanks to Cris who slipped yet another letter in there). I have about as much in common with them as I do heterosexuals, maybe less.

I think I use the word homosexual BECAUSE detractors use it. I'm not giving it up to them. Plus, as kmae points out, it so easy to mock them with it.

weese says it best. Too many types of people stuffed into one group.

I'm just an old lesbian too.
I like it like that way.


Suzanne said...

And Crystal, sorry to startle you by putting your name at the top of the page.

It was a good question. I just wanted to share.


Val said...

I prefer gay (for both men and women - annoys me that for some, that only means men!)

i used to think of 'dykes' as the really butch women, but have had that changed due my partner using that term, the way I use the term gay.

I am not crazy about all the various letters in our group, so prefer to lump them all into GAY. Happy.

Good question.

Anonymous said...

I don't like labels, they make me cranky.

The sad part is, a perfectly good word like 'homosexual' (or 'liberal') gets a negative connotation when co-opted by idiots who want to preach against it.

The only thing worse than having to deal with labels is having to deal with made-up words. I'm an English major. Words like boi and womyn make me twitchy.

A said...

I use them all, depending on context. In general conversation, I tend to use "gay", "lesbian", and "dyke". If I'm speaking more formally or making a point about my theories and such, I'll use 'homosexual', though occasionally I'll use it in normal conversation, in sort of an ironic sense. None of the terms offend me, the only one that raises my hackles is 'fag' or 'faggot'. I grew up surrounded by awesome gay men and I can't shake the negativity of that word; I can't even use it in jest. I simply hate it.

As far as GLBTIQ or whatever, sure it gets a bit silly, but I think I would prefer that we make the attempt to include anyone wishing to be included, or that no one feels left out. I think there is a certain divisiveness within the community despite the fact we're all essentially in the same boat, so I'm definitely okay with more inclusion and more of a sense of community.

moggiemomma said...

I have, in my time, used nearly every label in the book for myself. I'm happy with lesbian now. I can't stand the term LGBT when it's said in full - too much of a mouthful, and I think political correctness can sometimes be a load of old codswallop. I love what an old friend's ex said once, (she being a comedian), when she told her mother she was gay - her mother's response was, "Oh my God, I've spawned a Libyan!"

(Like I said, I'm not politically correct!)

Anonymous said...

Straight Liz here, from I Speak of Dreams. On reflection, I use "homosexual" in the same sense as WordsRock: as the collective noun, for men and women who prefer same-sex erotic partners. I also like to use the term homosexual to reclaim it from the haters.

As for my orientation, I use heterosexual if I'm speaking in one register (the one where I would use homosexual) or straight if I am speaking in the register of "gay" or "lesbian".

I use "gay" more specifically to refer to men who prefer men, "lesbian" for women who prefer women, and transgender for those folk who ended up in a body that doesn't match their self-concept. I don't use bisexual much at all...I know folk who are; it just seems to be not my business who they might be erotically involved with.

Q for questioning: well, since I'm around people of the 13-21 age bracket, that one I'm comfortable with also.

Denyse said...

I tend to refer to myself as a 'lesbian' and amongst friends as 'dyke', but I agree with Alena about LGBTIQ. I dont' think it is so much politically correct as politically savy. Divide and conquer is the oldest trick in the book so I'm gald that we stick together, even if we do it by using a silly acronym. We've got to watch one another's back.

the determined dieter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
the determined dieter said...

This is so funny because I am reading a 1970s book about lesbians and it calls a woman a womon and a lesbian a woman-identified woman.

I like lesbian and gay and dyke.

I love butch and femme.

I love the distinctions of stonebutch and stonefemme and softbutch.

I like ponosexual for those of us who will screw anyone.

I like polysexual.

LGBTIIQQ looks like alphabet soup to me, and doesn't fit easily on a Pride banner.

Eyes for Lies said...

I have always had a hard time using the words "lesbian" and "gay" because those words were thrown around by my generation in school as insults to ordinary heteros. *I* didn't use them BTW, but they were common. So I always use the word homosexual. It's clean, neat and cannot be used a an insulting word.

Eyes, M.S.Ed
Does the title mean my opinion means more?? NOT!!!! (hurl)

Anonymous said...

I was just going over this - at length with my old boss the other day. She is not cool with the terminology "queer" - but seeing as I am the one that apparently needs a way of identifying myself, I choose queer or gay

"Lesbian" comes in handy for shock value. It's strange, I can use any term I like, even right down to Likka and get away with it, but soon as that L word comes out, eyebrows are raised and conversations promptly changed

Marci said...

I prefer 'heteroically challenged'. Love your blog, by the way.

suburban dyke said...

The word "homosexual" always sounds so, well, gay. However, I use it often tongue in cheek expecially in conjunction with words like "conspiracy" or "agenda". It is also technically correct for same-sex loking folks. I use dyke or gay because I like simple words. Gay should be inclusive but sometines is not. Queer is all inclusive, so it's ok. I hate made-up words. I really hate the alphabet soup label that the "community" has. Nice blog, by the way.