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Editor’s Note: Why We’ve Added The ‘Q’

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By John Wright

OutSmart readers may have noticed that we recently added a “Q” at the end of “LGBT” in our logos and stories. The “Q” stands for “queer” or “questioning,” and the change reflects our effort to be more inclusive of the entire community.

According to GLAAD, “queer” is an adjective used by people whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual, but who may find the terms lesbian, gay, or bisexual “too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations that don’t apply to them.” GLAAD notes that others use “queer” or “genderqueer” to describe their gender identity and/or gender expression, especially if it falls outside the binary categories of man and woman.

Although “queer” was once considered pejorative (and is still not universally accepted), recent studies show that the LGBTQ community has largely reclaimed the term.

According to Community Marketing Inc.’s 11th annual LGBTQ survey, released in July, 24 percent of millennials now identify as “queer,” as do 37 percent of “gender expansive” people. The survey found that “LGBTQ” is now preferred over “LGBT” among millennials, and that, for the first time, the expanded abbreviation has an approval rating among baby boomers of more than 50 percent.

Based on its findings, Community Marketing concluded that “LGBTQ” is “a positive word for corporations to use today, with little negative downside.” Indeed, even some mainstream publications, including the Los Angeles Times, have switched from LGBT to LGBTQ.

The Critical Media Project at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism notes that “queer” is often used “to underscore the fact that gender and sexual orientation are fluid and should not be rigidly categorized.”

“Echoing this sentiment about fluidity, the ‘Q’ in LGBTQ further can indicate a ‘questioning’ or uncertainty about one’s gender, sexuality, or sexual orientation,” the project wrote.

As the Equality Federation’s Rebecca Isaacs put it in a 2015 column explaining her organization’s switch to “LGBTQ,” it’s about “more than a letter.”

“It’s about our values,” Isaacs wrote. “At this turning point, when we are examining and improving upon our commitments to racial, economic, and social justice, we are also doubling down on our commitment to people who identify as queer so that they will be fully embraced and empowered in our organization. Adding the ‘Q’ goes hand in hand with our deeper understanding of intersectionality.”

Enjoy the August issue!

This article appears in the August 2017 issue of OutSmart Magazine. 



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