How many times have you heard the joke 'GLBTQA ... ABCDE ... ' and thought it was a little bit funny? Every time I hear it, it says to me that many of us have become very jaded about the meaning of this acronym. It becomes a part of our daily language, so much so that most times when we say it we don't even stop to think about what it means, what the letters stand for, and, I will argue importantly, the order that they are in.
But think about the first time you heard it. Think about how many times you got it wrong, or thought you had the order wrong. Think about the time that you discovered that it didn't stop at T ( transgender ) , but that it could go on to Q ( queer ) , Q ( questioning ) , I ( intersex ) , A ( Allies ) . The later they are on the acronym, the least we tend to think about them.
Now, what about the time you discovered that some of the letters were interchangeable? I remember that moment. I was reading some of my first lesbian-feminist theory when there it was: 'L'—proceeded of course by the remainder of the acronym. It just seemed like such a powerful thing: Lesbians could go first if they wanted to. It changed my life, from then on it was to be LGBTQ ... .
But then it started. My straight friends, who had worked hard to engrain into their brains GLBT at my insistence, noticed the change. 'Wait, wait, what?' one said, 'you can't just change the order like that.'
My point is we can. Most of us have been in the community long enough to be familiar with starting either with L or G. Most of us also know that it is the other identities—the bisexual people, trans, questioning, queers, etc.—that have the least visibility, and whose needs are rarely addressed, even if included in the acronym.
So I propose that while it might not create the social revolution necessary, it might make some people stop and think for a second, about our identities, about hierarchies within the community, about privilege, if we just try saying and writing TBLG, or BLTG, even once in a while.
Tania Unzueta Carrasco is the managing producer of Homofrecuencia, a radio show in Spanish for TBLG Latino youth. It broadcasts every monday night at 8 p.m. on Radio Arte. For questions or comments she can be reached at Tania@radioarte.org .