Two housekeeping questions: Tags and job-seekers

I’m looking for input and feedback on a couple of blog-mechanics questions.

1. What to call the “tag” for homosexuality, QUILTBAG, Teh Gay, etc.

I want to make better use of the “tag” function here to better organize the content of the blog and to make older posts more accessible.

Tags need short labels, and short labels are rarely adequate. I’ve inconsistently used the tag “equality” for posts on marriage equality or same-sex marriage or LGBT civil rights more generally. That’s both too broad and too narrow, I think. Too broad in that there are many other forms of equality and inequality, and the word by itself doesn’t convey what kind of equality the tag refers to. And too narrow in that I’ve written other posts on LGBT issues not directly related to simple questions of legal equality.

Tagging these posts “homosexuality” would make them more accessible for those using search engines and for the occasional evangelical reader who wanders in to see what I’ve written on “the issue of homosexuality.” The problem, though, is that while this term is popular and often used by those seeking information, I don’t much care for phrases like “the issue of homosexuality.” It’s inhumanly abstract, for one. And it’s usually the preferred language of those who are agin’ it.

Tagging such posts “LGBT” or “QUILTBAG” gets closer to inclusive terminology, but such alphabet-terms aren’t always understood by a wider audience and aren’t the first words people looking to read more might use to describe what they’re searching for. (I’m not just talking about “SEO” blog-traffic business there. If some Christian becomes uncomfortable with what she or he is hearing from the pastor and decides to read more, they’re likely to Google something like “Bible + homosexuality” or “homosexuality + Christianity.” And I want their search to bring them here.)

I suppose I could use multiple tags for such posts, but I dunno. That’s the point here: I dunno. What do you folks think? What sort of tag would be most useful/helpful for you? And what sort of tag do you think would be most useful/helpful generally?

2. Are job-seeker open threads worth restarting?

I’m nearing the one-year anniversary of getting laid off from the newspaper business, and for most of the past year my job-seeking attitude has been like a sine wave oscillating between hope and despair. I started those long-shot, maybe-just-maybe this could help someone somewhere job-seeker open threads at a point when that wave was cresting and I was in full-blown “Hey, ya never know! Let’s give it a try!” mode.

I’m not sure anyone actually was helped by those open threads, and they petered out once my sine wave dipped into one of its troughs.

I suppose my question here is, on balance, did those threads contribute more to hope or to despair? If the former, I’m inclined to restart them. If the latter, then not.

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  • Chris Doggett

    On tags: use both if you want. The nice part about tags is that you can use a bunch if you want to. Tags don’t have to be that short. “Satanic Baby-Killers” is a great tag, and it’s mid-size. 

     I think using a “homosexuality” tag is a good idea exactly because of the audience you’re hoping to attract. 

    Use an “equality” tag as well as the “homosexuality” tag for those posts about marriage equality and civil rights. 

    Using terms like QUILTBAG in your posts is a good way to clearly signal your support and identify as an ally. Using those terms as tags, as you rightly observe, will not help draw in the folks you hope to introduce to new ideas. 

    I’d also suggest you consider a tag for those posts where you discuss specific versus of the bible, and how they are currently interpreted versus traditional interpretations. I’m thinking of a tag that could include your “Clobber Versus” posts, the “Evangelical View of Abortion is younger than the Happy Meal” post, as well as the “Peter vs. modern Evangelicals/Shellfish aren’t the only things OK” posts. I don’t know whether you’d want to tag it as “Scripture” or “Concordance” or “Sword Drills for the Culture Warrior”, but it’s worth considering. 

  • The_L1985

    This is a good idea. (BTW, the plural of verse is “verses.” “Versus” means vs.)

  • JustoneK

    I thought it was a pun.

  • Roadrunner

    What about something like “sexuality”? That is close enough that a search for “homosexuality” will still bring it up (Google generally searches for related words automatically) but is still broad enough to include the range of issues you’re talking about.  And actually allows the inclusion of sexuality topics that impact straight folks as well, and I think it’s sometimes important for us to remember that the anti-gay bigots are also opposed to many aspects of straight sexuality, as well–we’re in the boat too, even if it’s uncomfortable to remember that sometimes.

    The downside is that it puts the focus on sex, rather than something like marriage or family, which is what a lot of your posts are about.  But maybe the upside is enough to  outweigh that.

  • Zavire Shiran

    If you are looking for a general term for the whole LGBT* spectrum, I’ve seen GSM (Gender and Sexual Minorities) gaining some visibility. It’s not really mainstream, though.

  • Dave

    I second the “use multiple tags” strategy. There are multiple different goals being addressed here, the same text won’t meet all of them.

    Tagging posts about queer issues with “homosexuality” for the benefit of
    Evangelical searchers, as you mention, seems eminently sensible. But if
    I stumbled across your blog and saw only that
    tagging, it would turn me off. If you used both “homosexuality” and
    “QUILTBAG”, though, that would in and of itself intrigue me; the message
    I would take from it is that you’re trying to straddle the line between
    the two communities implied by those phrases. ( That said, I use neither term myself; I prefer “queer.” I understand this alienates a lot of people, a consequence I personally accept. )

    I’m also fond of referring to discussions of same-sex marriage as a political/legal issue using “marriage equality” (I don’t actually want everyone to marry members of the same sex, after all, while I _do_ want everyone to have equal access to marriage) and to discussions of same-sex relationships more generally and how they relate to other kinds of relationships using either “relationships” or “family” depending on what I’m talking about. 

  • JustoneK

    Seconding the use of a relationships tag – it’s pretty concise.

  • Rissa

    I like the idea of using two tags, “sexuality” and “equality” for such posts. You could also then double up usage of the “equality” tag for posts about racism, patriarchy, etc.

    “Homosexuality” would probably be a good tag to draw in the specific audience you mention, but as an asexual woman engaged to another woman, I am (selfishly) likelier to gravitate toward the more generic term. That said, since I’m no longer a member of that specific, searching Christian audience you’re hoping to draw in, I completely understand if you lean toward the more specific “homosexuality” tag  in hopes of holding their attention. 

  • Mr. Heartland

    I nominate ‘THE TAG’ as the tag for non-hetero sexuality.  Something about it just feels natural and true to me,  like a message from the gods. 

  • chris the cynic

    I would go for using multiple tags.  In general it feels redundant and inelegant to me, but in specific cases it makes sense.

    If you want it to be easy to find for multiple groups, and those groups would search using different terms, then the solution that’s going to work best is to have tags for each of those groups.

  • torrilin

    I favor using multiple tags. I read two bloggers who tag exercise related posts as ” falling off perfectly good rocks” and “rowing to Mordor, brb”. Adding a health or exercise or workout tag makes it clearer for other people.

    But the humorous tags are good too. Exercise can be a really fraught topic, and the funny tag makes it clearer that the purpose is not a stick for beating people up.

  • Chris Algoo

    Another vote for multiple tags. LGBT, homosexuality and equality can all go on a post about gay  marriage. Another benefit is that when readers search for posts tagged with equality, they’ll not only get to read about gay marriage, but also about race issues and (potentially) equality of opportunity posts.

  • Blaine

    I would suggest using two tags if you feel compelled to do so. But I would make sure that one of them is LGBTQA. I understand that not everyone knows what this little bit of alphabet soup means but I think it’s incumbent upon you (and others) to use terminology that those of us in the LGBTQA community use to self identify (and believe, I know that doesn’t even come close to covering *all* the bases, but I think it’s the best we can do without making it more complicated and convoluted). Its a respect thing. I’m a proponent of using language that others use to identify themselves, as it shows a basic respect for their identity without trying to create some new term that many people will undoubtedly have no clue what it encompasses or entails.

  • Elizabeth

    Agree with Blaine and LectorElise (and probably others) that you probably need either two tags, or to use both terms in every post, whatever tag you decide. As Blaine says, using the language that the LGBT community itself uses shows respect. Although from an outsider’s perspective the “right” term seems to evolve with bewildering speed. When I first became aware of the issue at all, it was LGBT, then LGBTQ, then LGBTQA and now QUILTBAG, which at least is pronounceable…

    And as someone who is probably in your target demographic (Christian, wanting to learn about these issues) the only search term I’m familiar with is “homosexuality”. Sorry, but at the beginning of my journey it’s the only word I would use – if your aim is to educate people who are not currently familiar with the terminology you are going to have to use this one.

    I would also suggest keeping “marriage equality” and using it for the legal issues specifically. I selfishly suggest this because that way I can screen it out and don’t have to read about the American political details, which I admit interest me less than the theological posts on the subject in general. We are not likely to ever get a vote on marriage equality here, so I don’t regard it as a key issue for me.

  • Joshua

    I’m a proponent of using language that others use to identify themselves

    That’s cool and all. Let us know when y’all have figured it out. In the meantime, Fred still wishes to tag his posts with fewer than infinity tags.

  • Dave


    Let us know when y’all have figured it out. In the meantime, Fred still wishes to tag his posts with fewer than infinity tags.

    No doubt. Generous as patheos might be with server space, that would definitely put an intolerable load on the system.

    I don’t wish to put words in Fred’s mouth, but I’ve certainly gotten the impression that making queer folk feel welcome and valued is important to him, which suggests to me that the “y’all figure it out and let us know” attitude you espouse here (which, to put it mildly, doesn’t seem optimized to perform that function) isn’t quite what he had in mind.

    Similarly, I’m not inclined to take the fact that Christians can’t seem to agree on what they want to be called as an invitation to dismiss the importance, if I want to make them feel welcome and valued, of learning to use properly the gazillion different words they come up with to describe themselves. (I mean, seriously… “evangelical”? “Lutheran”? “Methodist”? “Protestant”? “Unitarian”? The list goes on and on. )

  • Anonymous

    I’ve looked at this post several times, and I can’t let this go.  I think that Joshua put it brusquely, to be sure, but I think that the only respectful position to take would be, ‘we are happy to use y’all’s term for yourself; just let us know what it is.’

    Considering the fact that this will be the thread’s 50th response, I think the issue is nowhere near settled… I think the only position that someone who’s not quilted can respectfully take is to stay outside, and let those inside work it out amongst themselves.  Once that’s done, the rest of us can be notified and we’ll respectfully fall in line.

    Heh.  I like that, as an adjective.  Quilted.  But, then, it’s not for me to like.

  • Dave

    I think that the only respectful position to take would be, ‘we are
    happy to use y’all’s term for yourself; just let us know what it is.’

    “the only”?

    As a Jew, for example, one position I can think I can respectfully take towards non-Jews is to not assume that y’all should all agree on one word that describes y’all. I might, instead, choose to refer to Muslims as Muslims, Christians as Christians, atheists as atheists, etc. At least, that seems respectful to me.

    As a Caucasian, I similarly think I can respectfully adopt an analogous position with respect to non-Caucasians. Heck, that might even be more respectful than expecting them all to agree on a term, or behaving as though non-Caucasians even had something important in common besides their humanity.

    Of course, keeping track of all of that is a lot of work, and I might not want to do it. Which is fine; I’m not obligated to. But it’s certainly an option, and as I say I think it’s a respectful option.

    Now, perhaps the situation is different for straight people; I don’t know. I’m not straight, and perhaps it’s not for me to say. But I really can’t see why it would be.

  • Anonymous

    I think we are talking at cross-purposes.  It is your contention that different groups should not be lumped together unnecessarily; it is my contention that groups should be allowed to choose their own names, and that outsiders have no place in deciding one for them.  I think neither of these points are disagreeable.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Adding my support for the multiple tags idea. Seems like the best solution. 

  • LectorElise

    Multiple tags seem best. By all means, use the ‘homosexuality’ tag to draw in people- having allies willing to educate is so helpful- and pair it with a LGBT/QUILTBAG/GSM/whatever tag. One for the terms other Christians are likely to use, and one for the terms the community would use to describe itself.

  • Jeremy Yoder

    I personally prefer “queer” as a catchall term for sexual minorities—”homosexual” is pretty clearly used by folks opposed to queer equality precisely because it sounds a bit … icky. But for the kind of audience-targeting you’re describing, Fred, I think it does make sense to consider using “homosexuality.”

  • J Michael Carter

     QUILTBAG summons to my mind the popular slur “douchebag”, though I know it’s not supposed to.  How about “Civil Rights” and “Teh GAY”?

  • victoria

    i like multiple tags, my vote is for both “homosexuality” for the reasons Fred mentioned, and then “gender and sexuality” because i really think it’s important to remember that sexism and socially imposed gender roles play a big part in sanctioning homophobia and transphobia.  (i’ve tried to accustom myself to the QUILTBAG acronym but am just not comfortable with it, i prefer to use “queer” as the umbrella term for gender and sexual minorities)

  • Joshua

    Are job-seeker open threads worth restarting?

    From what I saw, I expect not. I don’t recall a job seeker meeting up with a potential employer once.

  • PseudoPserious

    This makes me sad.  I don’t always read the comments here, but I did this time to hear so good-news stories.

  • Aeanagwen

    Re: comments on what alphabet soup acronym to use, and what people in the relevant minorities use for themselves, I favor QUILTBAG.  It’s easily pronounceable and makes for nicer metaphors.  It’d be nice to be able to use queer, but as an asexual I’ve seen way too much antipathy towards aces using the term to feel comfortable with it.  Everyone that I’ve seen explain QUILTBAG mentions that the A can be for either Asexual or Ally, so it’s the one I’ve felt to be the most accepting.

    I also favor multiple tags; it’s what most blogs seem to do with issues like the ones you talk about.  Too, I second the idea about tags for specific Bible verses that you come back to frequently. 

    Actually, if there’s anything I would request in the interest of helping newcomers, it’d be a post linked somewhere on the main page that explains all of your shorthand–I’ve picked a lot of it up in the time I’ve followed this blog, but still not all of it.  RTCs, yeah, Satanic Baby Eaters, yeah, but there are some others I remain totally in the dark about (though they escape me right at the moment–another acronym, I think, was the big one I never figured out).

  • monty

    “Queer” is pretty well generally accepted now (in fact if you Google “queer” you get a nice little rainbow banner under the search bar!), and has the advantage of being short and simple. 

    It’s also a lot more inclusive by default. LGBT is good, but it leaves out sexual minorities like the gender neutral or third genders. Queer saves the trouble of unwieldy acronyms that have to be shaped into clever phrases like QUILTBAG.

  • Tomkatsumi

    Sorry to disagree with others but many gay people I know are still very uncomfortable with ‘queer’ – not only did I get called it at school but still hear it today in a derogatory way.  I know we are supposed to be reclaiming it, but did that really ever work for the ‘n’ word?

    For an international take – despite being active in the field of gay rights I’ve never heard ‘QUILTBAG’ outside this blog – I thought it was an in-joke and I’ve no idea what it stands for.  LGBT is what we use in the UK but personally i’d go for ‘gay rights’

    Although it doesn’t specifically include bisexuality by name, gay rights tend to also be rights for bisexuals.  Gay for me is the most non-controversial and most widely regognised term.

    Of course this excludes trans people, but then many trans people object to being lumped in with gay rights issues (that often have nothing to do with them, including them in name only)

    As I’m gay is it OK for me to make a ‘fag-tag’ joke?

  • chris the cynic

    I thought it was an in-joke and I’ve no idea what it stands for.

    Given the words that you are familiar with you’re blanking on AIU, right? Asexual, Intersex, and to be totally honest I’ve seen multiple things for the U, with the thing connecting them being that it’s for people who are uncategorized*, whether by choice or nature.

     * Though I’ve never seen “uncategorized” as the U, which could have something to do with the fact that my browser is telling me it’s not actually a word.

  • Nick

    “Sorry to disagree with others but many gay people I know are still very
    uncomfortable with ‘queer’ – not only did I get called it at school but
    still hear it today in a derogatory way.  I know we are supposed to be
    reclaiming it, but did that really ever work for the ‘n’ word?”

    It worked for “black”.

    I think with “queer” it’s a generational thing: younger people are more comfortable with it.

  • Tom

    “I think with “queer” it’s a generational thing: younger people are more comfortable with it.”

    In my experience it seems to be the opposite!  I’m pretty young myself!

    Quite apart from my personal hangups with the word, I don’t know a single straight person among my friends, family or aquaintances who would feel comfortable using it – even if explicitly instructed to by one of their gay friends.

    Even when gay people use it I find it very confrontational and non-inclusive.  I think that’s often the case with reclaiming insults – it has an element of “yes I’m queer… that’s right I’m a dirty ‘queer’… that’s what you people call us right!?”

    As I say – it’s maybe a cultural thing, it could be different in the US, but it’s still a pretty controversial word over here

  • Rowen

    From my almost 20 years of being an active member of the gay community, I’ve found that just about every name and acronym offends someone. I, personally, have an issue with this idea that we can’t use “homosexual” anymore. I haven’t really come across something legitimate, or based on stuff other then “feelings” to say that the Religious Right has deliberately made a decision to use that instead of “gay.” Yeah, I’ve heard a few personal stories here and there, but, even so, I feel that that’s more of a reason to USE the word, instead of letting someone else dictate what that will mean to us/me.

    I also remember a lot of the hubbub surrounding the word “Queer” back in the day, and remember the arguments both for and against it, which is funny that it’s now the stodgy old word that I see people talking about as outdated.

    QUILTBAG irks me for numerous reasons, one of which being that once you get past “Live and let live” these are numerous smaller communities wanting slightly different rights. I get the point of banding together, but still. I also find the acronym to be a little too. . . matronly? Here’s To The Ladies Who Scrapbook-ish?

    Anyway, this has kind of turned into “Things Rowen Doesn’t Like” and it’s more meant to be say that more then one tag is usually a good idea, and that as long as your respectful, I don’t think there’s going to be a problem. I’m sure that you’ll offend SOMEONE but . . . I’m getting to the point where I’m tired of arguing amongst ourselves.

  • Dave


    I haven’t really come across something legitimate, or based on stuff
    other then “feelings” to say that the Religious Right has deliberately
    made a decision to use that instead of “gay.”

    I don’t know how legitimate you consider this, but I found pretty compelling when a friend of mine showed me the historical results of two different online news-clipping feeds, one on “gay” and one on “homosexual.”

    The latter articles/quotes/etc. were noticeably more heteronormative and more frequently anti-queer than the former; quite strikingly so.

    This was about 8 years ago, and there are of course lots of confounding variables. It’s not a reliable study, but as I say, I found it pretty compelling.

  • Rowen

     Do you have a link to this? I think, in general, homosexual *sounds* more clinical, and gay still has the older subtext of happy, which . . . I think *might* be what’s going on.

    Even if this is true, it’s still our word and refusing to let our community use it because the other side uses it in a bad way just gives them more power.

    I came out at an early age, in Texas, and went to an all boys high school. I heard every single bad thing that teenage boys can think of to say about gay guys. I spent four years going through every emotion possible, including educating my entire school on just how you’re supposed to treat anyone. I’m willing to listen to anyone’s objection to the word “homosexual” but I did NOT, I repeat, DID NOT go through a major emotional hell, and didn’t claw my way out of that pit to be a well adjusted homosexual adult male, only to find that suddenly I can’t use that word to describe myself, because someone else thinks it sounds too clinical.


  • Dave

    Nope, no link… sorry.

    And, sure, there are various possible explanations other than differences between the frequency with which different subcultures use different words. That seems a fairly plausible explanation to me, though.

    I’m not quite sure how we got onto whether we should refuse to let our community use certain words, let alone whether you can or can’t use certain words to describe yourself. I agree with you that even if it’s true that certain religious communities preferentially use “homosexual” rather than “gay,” that doesn’t mean you can’t use “homosexual” to describe yourself, your community, etc. 

    Personally, I describe myself and my community as queer when the sexuality aspect of me/us comes up. Some people object to that word, which is absolutely their right; I understand their reasons for doing so, but I don’t find those reasons compelling. That’s my right.

  • Rowen

     I think there’s a lot of explanations and I think reality is a combination of a lot of things.

    As for using or not using, I’ve seen a lot of webpages start to do this, which I think stems from good intentioned trigger warnings and a desire to be inclusive, but sometimes I think it goes a little bit too far into self victimization territory.

    I remember when “queer” started to be a Thing, and I remember that many people in the gay community had issues with it, since queer means, more or less, not normal, and had a lot of negative associations.

    I find it fascinating that it’s now more mainstream. Plus, I’m in an orchestra that labels itself as Queer, and no one bats an eye.

  • Dave

    Yeah, when I was a kid “queer” was an unambiguous insult too. It makes me happy that this is changing.

  • Rowen

    Um, rereading that last post, it came across as WAY more belligerent then I intended.

  • SA

    Just a few thoughts:   even if  poorly-informed, possibly hostile evangelicals are one of your target audiences, I just hate the idea of tagging posts about the the lives and rights of LGBTQIA folks with the term “homosexuality.”  Why give them the endorsement of that language?  It doesn’t describe our lives or our sexuality very well at all, and, coming from evangelical/fundamentalist perspectives it is invariably a slur.  Perhaps “sexuality” is the better choice.

    My personal preference is to use “queer” when discussing the overarching needs/goals/rights/lives of the everybody-but-heteronormative crowd, and to use LGBTQ or LGBTQA or LGBTQIA when I want to draw attention to the fact that we are an allied group of peoples who have some common goals and some differing characteristics. 

    And, to tell you the truth, I’ve never heard or seen an LGBTQ person use “QUILTBAG” as an acronym anywhere but on this blog.  Perhaps it might catch on, but it seems jokey and kind of crass; the “douchebag” connotations sink it for me. 

  • Tom

    I’m genuinely surprised to see so many people here advocating ‘queer’.  The only people I’ve ever heard use it are those who are so deeply involved in the gay rights movement that they are totally disconnected from the ‘man on the street’ and homophobes who want to beat me up.

    Most of my gay friends still, like me, find the term offensive, and I know that none of the straight people I know would be comfortable using the word.  Perhaps it’s a cultural thing as I live in the UK – but comparing it to a similarly reclaimed word, like the n-word, it seems even stranger that ‘queer theory’ or ‘queer film festival’ would ever make it into formal/academic discourse – one wouldn’t advertise for a ‘n-word film festival’.

    If ‘homosexual’ is a possible contender then I don’t see what’s wrong with the universally unoffensive ‘gay’.

    Also – to those who are suggesting ‘sexuality’, I always like to make the distinction between ‘sexuality’ and ‘sexual orientation’.  My sexual orientation is that I am gay – a profound and immutable part of my identity.  My sexuality is that I go for waiters, scruffy guys and long hair… preferably a few times a week.

  • Dave

    I’m genuinely surprised to see so many people here advocating ‘queer’.

    Yeah, I get that a lot. I have my reasons, but I do appreciate that a lot of people consider the word negative, and it’s one to use with caution.

    As a data point, I live in the northeast US and am not particularly involved in the “movement” aspects of queer rights.

    If ‘homosexual’ is a possible contender then I don’t see what’s wrong with the universally unoffensive ‘gay’.

    In some subcultures, ‘gay’ is understood to exclude women. In some subcultures, excluding women is understood as offensive.

    I always like to make the distinction between ‘sexuality’ and ‘sexual orientation’.

    That said, none of these terms are especially crisply defined. I’m a 43-year-old man in a 20-year monogamous relationship with my husband; I am attracted to and have had long-term sexual and romantic relationships with both men and women; I am often attracted to stocky men with wrestler’s builds and women with long legs and narrow waists, but rarely to men with narrow waists or stocky women with wrestlers’ builds; various other things are true about me. What aspects of that hodgepodge are sexuality and what aspects are sexual orientation is not obvious to me, nor would I expect any two observers to independently agree about it.

    I’m also fond of distinguishing both of those terms from sexual identity and sexual experience. 

  • InvertIntrovert

    No positive noun in the English language has ever ended with the suffix “-bag.”

    I’ve been carrying my irritation for QUILTBAG  in secret for too long. It’s a relief to find it’s a shared one.

  • Dave


    No positive noun in the English language has ever ended with the suffix “-bag.”

    If you meant this as a hyperbolic way of expressing the idea that there are many nouns with that suffix which are negative, I agree.

    If you actually meant what you said, I’m interested in the senses in which “airbag,” “beanbag”, and “handbag” (to name three) are not positive nouns.

  • EllieMurasaki


  • InvertIntrovert

    You were right with the first paragraph.

  • Boidster

    I’m a hetero, non-religious, progressive, near-daily reader of this blog, and when I first saw QUILTBAG – on FARK, not here – I honestly thought that the Farkers were making a cruel insult along the lines of “douchebag”, but tailored for the LGBT* folks. I did not imagine that the acronym would be acceptable to any people of the sexual orientations denoted by the letters. Only when it cropped up here did I update my imagination.

    I’d suggest “sexual identity” and “equality” as tags, singly or in tandem as required. Keep it relatively generic so that the acronym-of-the-month doesn’t make posts tagged with the “old” term seem exclusionary or out of date. If you pick an acronym, it seems to me that LGBT has relatively broad uptake in “popular” media. Hopefully the Q, U, I, and A folks will be gracious to know what you mean and why you chose that acronym from the wide variety of choices.

  • arcseconds

    What about ‘alternative sexualities’, or is that too long?

    It’s vague enough to be a wide umbrella, it should be pretty transparent even to the completely uninitiated, and it doesn’t have the baggage that ‘queer’ does to some people, and I think it’s a pretty neutral term.

    I understand that ‘sexuality’ isn’t the same as ‘gender’ and I appreciate the fine distinctions Dave is trying to make, but a completely technically accurate phrase will be cumbersome and impenetrable, and acronyms either leave things out or are opaque to substantial numbers of people. 

  • Dave

    I appreciate the fine distinctions Dave is trying to make, but a
    completely technically accurate phrase will be cumbersome and

    100% agreed; a tag list is the wrong place to draw that distinction.

  • Lliira

    What about ‘alternative sexualities’

    I would be severely uncomfortable with “alternative sexualities.” Alternative to what? That posits one certain kind of sexuality as the norm, and that manages to insult a whole huge lot of people, intentionally or not.

    Also, I’m a straight ciswoman and my own sexuality has often been described as “alternative”, almost always by people who have no clue what they’re talking about.

  • arcseconds

    Well, cis-straight sexuality is statistically the norm, so this doesn’t need to be ‘posited’.  And that’s a big part of the problem, isn’t it?  If all the options were equally distributed in the population, everyone would be in a sexual minority, and we wouldn’t need a special tag for this (‘sex and gender’ would do fine).  Fred is wanting a tag for when he’s discussing non-mainstream, non-traditional gender and sexual identities etc.    because they need special consideration because they’re either overlooked or outright persecuted, and we (society) can get away with this because it’s not the statistical norm.

    ‘Alternative’ is a reasonable near-synonym for both ‘non-mainstream’ and ‘non-traditional’.

    It would be a problem if ‘alternative’ implied an alternative to a normative norm (like ‘abnormal’ does), but to my ears at least it completely lacks that implication (if I thought it implied that, I wouldn’t have suggested it).

    Outside this topic, ‘queer’ does imply something that isn’t normative, so i would have thought any problem for ‘alternative’ here would go thrice-over for ‘queer’.  I’m comfortable with the term myself, and of course many insiders have embraced the term for themselves, so it does have that advantage, but it was and still sometimes is used as an insult. Also, Fred wants something that is understandable and (I presume) lacks negative connotations for the uninitiated as well as for us.

    I’d be surprised if ‘alternative’, at least on its own, had negative implications for the general English speaker.  When we ‘consider the alternatives’ we don’t consider a list of things we think are inferior to some ‘normal’ option, in fact, in this usage there may not be any kind of norm or default at all.  And many things that get ‘alternative’ as a label are labelled so by insiders, and there’s no implication of inferiority there.  In fact,  they often think their alternative form is superior!

    e.g. alternative rock, alt country, alternative lifestyles, alternative energy, etc.

    Of course, the fact you cringe is completely to the point.  It doesn’t matter what I say if significant numbers of readers (particularly those with a direct stake in the issue). 

    Unfortunately, I don’t think there is going to be a completely cringe-free alternative.

  • Laiima

    I think ‘homosexual’ will have to be included, to catch the straight Christian readers. I like ‘marriage equality’, and also maybe ‘QUILTBAG’.

    I’m genderqueer/nonbinary, with a sexuality that I don’t know how to label, and a fiber artist, so I actually really love QUILTBAG because I feel like at least 2 important aspects of my identity (and possibly 3) are addressed by it.

    Also, I rarely feel like I belong to any group or community, and when LGBTA, or whatever, is used, I don’t see myself in there.

    Wrt to the job stuff, I’ve been unemployed for 3 years, and it was just too depressing after a while. (How do you identify ‘what you do’ when you wonder if you’ll ever be paid money again? When I tell people how long I’ve been unemployed, it’s like they’ve realized I’m radioactive. But if I say I’m blogger, most people I meet don’t know what that means, or don’t care.)

  • victoria

    “e.g. alternative rock, alt country, alternative lifestyles, alternative energy, etc.”

    the majority of the items listed here refer to THINGS, not flesh and
    blood people.  Do you talk about “alternative ethnicities” or
    “alternative races” when discussing issues faced by people who are in
    the racial or ethnic minority?  People are not genres or fads.   Part of the problem that gender and sexual minorities face is heteronormativity, the assumption that cisgendered heterosexuality is the default way to be human, the “norm.”  Labels like “alternative” reinforce that assumption.