Alphabet Soup

Unless you’re in grade school or younger (and if you are, please log off — this blog is not for you), there are things that make you realize you’re getting older.

In junior high your andy-warhol-campbells-alphabet-soupbody changes. In high school, you get the driver’s license experience. In your twenties, you have college or moving out on your own. Or the pressure to move out. Or the begging and pleading and cajoling to a please move the fuck out already!

Then you turn thirty and everything starts making you feel old. You stop getting carded in bars. Baristas start calling you “ma ‘am.” You sit down to watch the Grammys and have no idea who anyone is.

I also understand that for heterosexuals the clock starts tick-tocking on when you’ll get married and start reproducing. I did not experience this, because when I was that age, marriage equality wasn’t even on the horizon. Perhaps now that it exists, thirty-something lesbians and gay men feel the same pressure to get married, but I haven’t seen any studies or the matter, so I can’t be sure.

But, That doesn’t mean there’s no indic­ator in the non-heteronormative community to make me realize that I’m old. Like, the dusty fossil of a lesbiosaurus old.

That thing is this: LGBTQQIAPP+

I ran across that today and realized I had no idea what half of our acronym meant. Frankly, I thought I’d cornered the alphabet soup market when I came up with FALAGABATATA (Federal Agency of Lesbian And Gay And Bisexual And Transexual And Transgender Americans). But clearly, I came up woefully short because, in addition to the ten orientations represented in the acronym, there’s a “+” so I still need to do some research to find out who else I’m not aware of.

When I was growing up it was simple. Either you were normal, or you were a lezzy or a fag. Or, more correctly, you were called a lezzy or a fag — a charge you always vehemently denied.

After high school, I moved to a more gay-friendly town and learned the acronym LGB. And it was LGB for a long time. The T wasn’t added until the 90s. I don’t remember when the Q was added, but I’ve been walking around just saying LGBTQ+ for years. So imagine my surprise to find the additional QIAPP tacked on. I had no idea.

Have I become the alternative-lifestyle equivalent of your embarrassing aunt who still insists on calling Asian people “Oriental?”

So, to educate anyone else who is unfamiliar with what all the letters stand for, they mean Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual, and Polysexual. I know! That’s a lot of different people with a lot of different stuff going on.

It makes me think back to my LGB days. Obviously, there were people around back then who would now identify as one of the above. What must that have been like? Did they wedge themselves into an LGB orientation that didn’t really fit or feel right because those were the only options available? Or have people always been identifying as above and only now getting the recognition they deserve?

I know my lack of knowledge his as much to do with being older and not tuned in to social/cultural goings-on, as it does to do with me being a lazy lesbian. I’ve never been ashamed of who I am and I ‘ve never been quiet about it. But I’ve also never been much for parade marching, flag-waving or bumper sticker sticking. Most of my activism comes in the form of defending the community by getting into fights with narrow-minded assholes on Facebook.

In a way, it’s good that I’m not a young, socially/culturally aware and involved person now that the whole rainbow of orientations and gender identities are getting more visibility. The little chameleon that I was back in my glory days, God only knows the plethora of identities I would have assumed. I know my appearance changed radically after moving to my little gay town and seeing my first real-live lesbians up close. I immediately emulated their dress and hairstyles, much to my mother’s chagrin.

So I can only imagine that today, I simply wouldn’t be satisfied being a plain old lesbian and would seek out something more interesting. Perhaps making one up if none of the existing identities applied. Although I’m sure doing something like that might be frowned upon.

But still, my mom’s reaction to me bursting through the door to announce that I’m now semidemigenderqueer would almost be worth it.

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