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by Michael A. Horvich

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The initials GLBTQ reflect a long, successful journey. Once we were "Homosexual." With Stonewall we began being "Gay." Then it got to being "Gay" and "Lesbian." Slowly "Bisexual" was included. ( G—L—B ). Over time Transvestites and Transsexuals came under the word "Transgender" and "T" was added. The "T" is becoming a lot more visible today, especially with the issue of: Which bathroom does one use ( G—L—B—T ).

"Q" seems to identify two groups. One is buying back the word "Queer," not as an insult, but used with confidence and self-love and remembering the resolution of the rainbow flag that we will never go back into the closet again.

The other is "Questioning," which refers to the need of people, whether young or old, who must figure out who they are, who they want to be, and how they want to express themselves and their sexuality. Being open to possibilities that enable one to question fixed societal beliefs is necessary. ( LGBTQ )

Some are now including "I" for "Intersex." Some add "A" for "Allies" or "Asexual" ( LGBTQIA ). Some also add P for "Polyamorous."

In some cases, people also use GNC, or "Gender-Nonconforming." And at many community events and meetings, it is now a common practice to ask people to state their "PGPs," or "Preferred Gender Pronouns."

Some say that we should not have to categorize or label any of us, gay or straight, and that is part of the problem we face. Ellen DeGeneres, who usually avoids discussing political issues on her TV show, did talk about why we still needed to address marriage between two men or two women as "gay marriage." We do not need to describe "straight marriage."

In the beginning I had trouble referring to my life partner, Gregory, as "my husband." Based on my early coming out, and societal norms of the day, if he was my "husband" that must mean I was the "wife." And that was not true.

With the passage of time, and laws, and common usage, it feels OK to me to talk about two husbands, or two wives, two mommies or daddies. I have been able to leave the old thinking behind.

I believe that through flexible, open labeling we are able to gain a larger understanding of who we are and that we will also be better able to accept that "we are all one" deserving the respect and privileges of being human. Stereotyping no, but understanding our life through categorizing and labeling is how we make sense out of complicated issues.

Being part of a label shows, in my opinion, inclusion rather than looking the other way and pretending non-existence. So I am pleased to be part of the LGBTQ community and look forward to the addition of other letters to demonstrate the importance of growing one's community.

After a 30-year teaching career, Michael Horvath has been retired for 20 years but has been more than active as an educator, writer, poet, photographer, blogger, artist, jeweler, book binder, lecturer, actor, supernumerary, museum curator, and dementia/Alzheimer's caregiver partner for his life partner Gregory Maire ( RIP. ) Visit .

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