Last week I noticed that the Facebook Group for Amsterdam Gay Pride had been changed to Amsterdam Pride. I must admit, I felt a knot in my stomach and thought, "Oh please no, this is Amsterdam!"
I get emotional about this subject, because I love the city of Amsterdam, I have lived here for 20 years and it has been good to me, very good!
There was quite a lengthy discussion on Facebook and now articles and Poll's on Gay.nl. I don't intend to summarise all that is going on, the point of this post is for me to express why I am so passionate about this issue.
1. The main reason given so far for the proposed change is inclusivity, and let me be clear, I am all for inclusivity. I am however certain that removing the word "Gay" will not make Amsterdam Gay Pride more inclusive, in fact it will alienate many Gay Men and Women who are already somewhat upset as to how Amsterdam Gay Pride has changed over the last few years. So, if the word "Gay" is eliminated - what should it be replaced by? Some suggest variations on the LGBT Acronym this leads me to my second point.
2. LGBT, LGBTI, LGBTX, and OMG the ridiculous LGBTQQIP2SAA!! What does that even mean? I had to look it up!
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,
- Two Q’s to cover both bases (queer and questioning);
- I for Intersex, people with two sets of genitalia or various chromosomal differences;
- P for Pansexual, people who refuse to be pinned down on the Kinsey scale
- 2S for Two-Spirit, a tradition in many First Nations that considers sexual minorities to have both male and female spirits;
- A for Asexual, people who do not identify with any orientation; and
- A for Allies, recognizing that the community thrives best with loving supporters, although they are not really part of the community itself.
Some people get very emotional about naming, Im one of them! But my view is simple - the above is a pile of crap built by people whose time would be better spent helping our brothers and sisters in our wonderful community rather than arguing about including all the above. Anyway, this will probably get me into trouble - but here are my thoughts.
- According to my dictionaries "Gay" is a term used to describe homosexual men and homosexual women, I have no big issue with our Gay Sisters preferring to be called Lesbian and include the 'L' but Id love to understand why they don't feel that the word Gay includes them? However I have no big issue with the L so lets leave that one there
- Queer and Questioning. Hmm, to be honest Ive never found a standard, clear definition of Queer. Im a gay man, if someone calls me Queer it doesn't bother me. Questioning? Well one day they will decide who they are and will pick another letter so lets eliminate the two Q's shall we?
- Intersex. I know a couple of Intersex people. those that I know of identify as straight, gay, Lesbian or bisexual - so by including LGB we are covering all but Straight - and we don't need to make Straight people feel included in our Gay Pride do we?
- P - Pansexual. People who refuse to be labelled. Usually I find that those that identify as Pansexual are usually Bisexual or Straight, but gay friendly, who want to be included in our events and change the name so that they don't put in the effort to set up their own. So lets say they are covered by B.
- 2S - Firstly, this applies to native americans, and seems to be a combination of LGBT - personally I don't see the difference - if someone could explain to me Id love to hear it
- Asexual. They don't see themselves as having a sexuality so why should they be included in Gay Pride where we celebrate and show our pride in our sexuality? So lets leave this one out shall we? We're never going to have much in common.
- A for Allies - supporters. We are very greatful for these people, and thankful for their support, but I don't think any of them would feel excluded if they were not included in the name.
3. So - What does that leave us with? (in my opinion) - LGBT, LGBTI at a push. Personally I'd rather leave it as "Amsterdam Gay Pride" The word Gay covers Gay Men and Gay Women, the transgender folks I know who identify as a Gay Man or Gay Woman are not offended by the word "Gay" and feel included by the term, and Bisexuals are a little bit gay aren't they?
4. If our Lesbian sisters don't feel included in the Gay community, and our Bisexual brothers and sisters are offended when they are included in the Gay Community without being specifically called out, what is wrong with "Amsterdam LGBT Pride"?
5. My job takes me round the world, and when I can I try to contact a local gay organisation to find out more about their lives, their hopes and their fears. Whenever I do this they know "Amsterdam Gay Pride". They have seen pictures or video of our famous canal parade, They dream of the freedom we have and the ability to celebrate our pride in being gay. I am married to a Russian Man, we all know what is happening in Russia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Libya etc etc Even in the US. What message are we sending to them if we remove the word Gay from our Pride.
6. When D&G came out against Gay Marriage, the right wing press in the US and the Religious Wacko's used that statement against us. I can see the headlines now in Russian and African Newspapers, US Media and Religious Websites "Amsterdam take the Gay out of Pride" Is that something we want to do?
Some will say that other cities have changed to City Name + Pride. True, but many have changed back, or experienced negative effects on what their Pride means, who attends and what it represents; I don't think thats something the Amsterdam Gay Community wants.
I will meet with one of the organisers this week to discuss more, I hope we will understand each other.