Reverse The Polarity

Over the last ten years or so many of us have got used to sticking a plus sign on the end of Bi or LGBT. Bi and related identities or issues. LGBT and other gender and sexuality issues that your group might want to work on like BDSM laws and representation that might not be obviously LGBT issues but the group is going to campaign or take a stance on.

Not everything has the plus on it, or wants to put it there. That’s fair enough – I’m a great believer in the idea that it is better to have a label on the tin that reflects what is inside, not just a label that fits this week’s trendy or politically acceptable choice. I’d rather an organisation that is only really going to do anything for gay men to say so, not to pretend to be gay-and-bi but want bi chaps to leave their ‘straight half’ at the door.

This winter we have seen the launch of a rival group to Stonewall – an organisation that has itself been dragged to including the B and T in its language and work – being eagerly promoted by some well-connected bigots on social media.

“LGB Alliance” got off to a tricksy start as while trumpeting its transphobic / trans-exclusionary position they instead started arguing about whether the B belongs either and how bi you have to be to be bi enough for them. Not being able to support all the words in your organisation name even on the day of launch sends out a brilliant message. We’ve been carefully not adding to the oxygen of publicity for them through our online presences.

Some of the people involved were also involved in setting up Stonewall and have become disillusioned after that organisation started speaking up or taking action on bi and trans inclusion and challenging biphobia and transphobia.

But it makes me wonder about that plus sign. That is the only mathematical operator we ever seem to use about our acronyms. Is it time that as well as “LGBT+” type naming, we had the minus used as well? As the “Alliance” despite having the “B” in its name is definitely not suited to the label LGB+, and isn’t even LGB… but it might be LGB.