Origin

The word ‘queer’, unsurprisingly, was heavily used way back in the 50s and 60s as a derogatory term for those standing outside the heterosexual ring. As the gay rights movement gathered steam, several activists and academics chose to co-opt ‘queer’, using it with pride and candour.

The ‘LGBTTIQQ2SA’ alphabet soup

The ‘Pride’ movement is centered around identity, and fairly so—our identities dictate our life choices, likes, dislikes, needs and risks. The movement, then, has always strove to be inclusive and respectful. To that end, while the community acronym started with ‘LGBT’ (with a later addition of ‘Q’), it has fluctuated swiftly. This has spun into a debate of its own.

The ever-increasing addition of letters has become hard to track. Any questions can earn accusations of homophobia, if you’re straight, and lack of solidarity, if you’re gay. 

Excesses of identity politics

While ideals of inclusivity are admirable, the ‘alphabet soup’ is a distraction away from the core issues faced by the community as a whole. It takes up unnecessary space in a political landscape already crowded with narratives of all sorts. It signifies the excesses of what has been dubbed ‘identity politics’ — different identities fighting for space, as if one can only exist at the cost of another.

‘Queer’ is an effective stand-in for all the letters that exist, and may come up in the future, and queer rights encompasses all sexual identities. That would be true solidarity.