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May 03rd 2016 print

Peter Smith

Gay Diversity: Matters of Character

Unlike the Chinese, we have only 26 letters available to express the baffling, burgeoning breadth of gay and half-gay sexual preferences, including as of late, the addition of an 'A' to represent those who have no interest in sex whatsoever. It's all very queer

rainbow keyboardA cautionary note: take nothing I say below as informed. Look it all up for yourself. That is the only way to be sure that you know exactly what LGBTIA stands for and are not at risk of appearing gauche among trendsetters.

I was taken unawares when an ‘I’ was appended to LGBT. Before then I was only unsure about the ‘T’. I thought it stood for transgender but was not at all sure where transsexuals, transvestites or hermaphrodites fitted in. And I admit to mixing up transgender people and transsexuals in the sense of occasionally looking up the difference and then letting it slip from my mind. Intersex, now that is an intriguing one. ‘Into sex’ I understood (or used to in more youthful years), but intersex, what the heck could it mean? I now know that it is an encompassing term for those born with some biological makeup of both sexes and so includes hermaphrodites. Moreover for the moment I also know that transsexuals have had reassignment surgery whereas transgender people, which I take it as a group covers transvestites, haven’t. Now, to compound the complexity, an ‘A’ has recently been added to LGBTI.

I searched for “LGBTIA” and first found “LGBTI aged care”. As worthy as this is, I suspected it was the wrong answer and subsequently found that the ‘A’ stands for asexual. Again I had no idea what this meant. But on general principle putting an ‘a’ in front of a word, as for example with “atypical” or “amoral”, is like putting ‘un’ or ‘not’. So on this basis asexual people might refer to people not interested in sex at all. I found that I was right. Logic sometimes works! That’s fine by me but my impression is that a lot of middle-aged people in the street in which I grew up had lost interest in sex. But what do I know. I didn’t peer through their bedroom windows. They were too high up. However if my impression is right I doubt – just a guess – that they would have been comfortable about being put at the end of a Queer sexual variety list.

I have revealed my ignorance long enough and am truly sorry for it. My purpose is not to make fun of anyone. Life is tough enough without being lumbered with proclivities and preferences outside the traditionally-accepted norm for things as basic as sexual preference or gender identification. My purpose is to cry “Stop!”, enough already.

I fully expect to wake up tomorrow to find another letter of the alphabet appended, and who knows at this rate what length of lettering we will end up with. To take the liberty of speaking for heterosexual people, whose numbers, thankfully for the future of the human race, overwhelmingly exceed those with different orientations, it is confusing. How does that help anyone?

Most people are attracted wholly to people of the opposite sex. Some people all of the time, or to some material extent of the time, are attracted to people of the same sex. The first group of people are heterosexual. The second group are homosexual. The terms lesbian and bisexual are redundant. Gay as a word commandeered from the English language can equally stand for women. After all, heterosexual is gender neutral, and so is ‘straight’, isn’t it? Bisexual is simply a cop-out word; after all, people gadding about as heterosexuals face no discrimination or need of affirmation. It’s only the homosexual side that is in play here. Asexual is anomalous on its face in this seething sexual hotchpotch.

People who don’t feel sexual attraction might well need medical help and/or support groups. But such people face no discrimination. Where do you have to pass muster on any serious level by revealing how randy you are or many sexual encounters you’ve had? There is no shortage of employment opportunities for those who seek solace through wine and song alone.

This done we are left with GTI and I suggest that transsexuals be included under T if they are not already. Then from international Queer Headquarters an edict should be issued banning the addition of more initials, rather like the French have banned the introduction of more verbs ending in ‘er’.

Am I being too spare in my thinking? Maybe. Perhaps, an additional initial or two would not over-bake the cake. My main point is that, unless action of some limiting kind is taken, diminishing returns will set in. Those on the outside looking in will become increasingly wearied by the whole business as even more obscure sexual sub-groups seek their own distinct recognition and initialising.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics