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Column: A “Q” is essential

Even grammatical style is part of the fight for LGBTQ equality.

Shannon Greenwood

April 24, 2014

The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.

When I first began this column over a year ago, style was left up to me. I remember having a conversation with my then-editor about which acronym we should use in my columns — LGBT or LGBTQ.

At the time, I had no particular preference. It was toward the start of my interest in covering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer issues, and I honestly did not feel informed enough to make a concrete decision on my own. We decided the best decision was to choose our style based on the MU LGBTQ Resource Center, and since it included the Q in its title, we would too.

I stuck to that style throughout my first semester at the Maneater, but soon after I began an internship at the Human Rights Campaign where the preferred style was just LGBT. This semester, I have used both interchangeably, but doing so has raised questions about which style should be the one used universally when writing about LGBTQ issues. If that last sentence is any indication, including the Q is my preferred style and it is one I would advocate everyone using when covering the LGBTQ community.

Despite L-G-B-T actually standing for something, the acronym itself is representative of more than just those four letters. Put together they create a larger sense of community where our differences are what make us similar. Our far-ranging and diverse identities are meant to be encompassed by those letters, so some may argue that including Q in that title does not make much of a difference in what the community actually stands for, but I disagree.

The Q in LGBTQ generally stands for queer, but sometimes it can stand for questioning. Q’s double usage makes it imperative in the conversation of LGBTQ issues. Further more, queer is one of the few identities that encompasses both gender identity and sexual orientation. Queer can be seen as controversial as it has been historically used as a derogatory term, but it has since become a reclaimed term in the LGBTQ community, sometimes even used to describe the community as a whole. Queer itself is used when one’s sexual orientation differs from the mainstream perception of what it should be and the existing labels, such as gay, lesbian or bisexual, do not necessarily fit one’s own personal identity. Genderqueer is a similar identity in which one’s gender identity is neither male nor female, but somewhere in between.

These identities are often overlooked when covering the fight for LGBTQ equality, and therefore including them within the title of LGBTQ is even more imperative. Identifying as queer, genderqueer or even questioning cannot be adequately represented in just the LGBT-spectrum, and therefore Q deserves its own letter in the acronym.

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Article comments

April 25, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.

Dennis Velco: Thanks for this article and your reporting. What you do is appreciated.    I posted it to the largest LGBT Group on LinkedIn with over 25,900+ global members to spur members to read your article and to make comment. I also scooped it at Scoop.It on my LGBT Times news mashup.    Link to group >>   All LGBT+ and community allies.... please come join me and 25,900+ of your soon to be great connections on LinkedIn. The member base represents 80% of the world's countries.     It's core value is - Visibility can lead to awareness which can lead to equality. Come stand with us and increase our visibility on the globe's largest professional networking site. Be a professional who just happens to be LGBT - or a welcomed community ally.  

April 29, 2014 at 11:13 a.m.

Bryce Thompson: I appreciate the "Q" as representative of "Queer" although I wouldn't want to be referred. I do not, as of yet (perhaps given that I am a psychotherapist), appreciate "Q" as "Questioning," mainly because I see "questioning" as an exploratory stage towards an identity that could be L.G.B.T. or "Queer."

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