How Long Can an Acronym Get?

It started as LGB, then it became LGBT, then it was LGBTQ, and now I recently ran across LGBTIQA+. We have officially reached the point of ridiculousness. And while the “+” might suggest an official decision to limit the acronym’s growth before it exponentially expands to consume all print space in the universe, I’m not sure everyone’s going to happy with being relegated to a mere “+”. Surely everyone deserves acronym equality?

What is going on here?

It seems society has landed on a rather unfortunate way of labeling people who fit outside the gender-sexual norms: an acronym. It was chosen over mere “gay” because gay clearly doesn’t describe all the people to which it might be applied. Now this acronym worked fine when it was just gays and lesbians and bisexuals. But then we discovered all these other people who also don’t fit. So we just tacked them on the end of the acronym. Again, and again, and again.

There is no logical endpoint to all this. The only thing that truly unites all these diverse people is that they don’t fit the mainstream. But the number of possible ways to be non-conforming is near infinite. It is as if instead of dividing the world into Jew and Gentile, we decided to give every ethnic group in the world a letter, and divide the world into Jew and ESWIFGSPHCSBZTSIELXOAIPHCBCNBQ+.

I think it’s time the acronym got retired folks. That, or can we at least agree that when an acronym gets “+” added that it is now illegal to keep adding stuff on the end. An absurd label does nobody any good, especially the LGBTIQA+ community.



Deeper Down the Rabbit-hole:

Some of the history and difficulties of the LGBT term and it’s variants on Wikipedia



2 thoughts on “How Long Can an Acronym Get?

  1. The problem is coming up with a good umbrella term to use instead! I think it would have to be a phrase, rather than a single word, something like “minority sexualities and gender identities” and at that point even a long acronym can seem the more appealing choice. Or a new word is going to have to be coined or we’ll have to wait a generation or two for “queer” to be fully reclaimed, since that’s starting to be used more as an umbrella term.


    • I suspect that coming up with a suitable umbrella term is an eternal problem for all groups whose main source of unity is the fact that they are not the mainstream, i.e. they are defined by what they are not rather than what they are. Such groups are always extremely diverse. It’s impossible to pick a term which truly covers everyone.

      I’ve seen similar absurd mayhem over choosing names among atheists. In their case they are only united by not being part of the mainstream religion. I suspect the problem only ever goes away when the need for a name goes away… Till then… long live the ridiculous names, acronyms and all!

      May the least absurd name win!


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