Three reasons why I think the Q is a good idea:
I’m super-excited that AWAB has decided to change its public language to include a Q in our acronym. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal for you, but it’s very important for me. This post will tell you three reasons why, but let me say a couple of things first. I use the “Q” in “LGBTQ” primarily to mean “queer”, but some folks also use it to signify “questioning.” I think both of those things are good ideas. As the leadership of AWAB discussed this language change, we were very conscious that adding this language might be alienating to certain parts of our membership. It is my hope that if you are offended by “queer” language, you will stay in conversation with us. Certainly, many of our supporters grew up in (or continue to live in!) a context in which “queer” was experienced as a derogatory term, an insult. We want to be sensitive to those supporters (and we’ll be hearing from some of them in the coming weeks) but we also wanted to extend a welcome to all the members of our community.
So here are my first three reasons:
I don’t have that many credibility cards I can play, but I am under 30. I can tell you: many folks my age, and especially folks younger than me, who identify as part of the LGBTQ community primarily identify with the Q in that acronym. There’s a freedom and fluidity in it, there’s a refusal of static boundaries. It’s the “it’s complicated” identity in the age of the facebook. Especially (but not by any means exclusively) in younger generations there are more and more of us identifying as “queer”, and not as “gay” or “lesbian.” Those labels are often claimed by folks in very different cultural, generational, or racial spaces. I want AWAB to work for the inclusion of a wide range of Baptists- I don’t want people to be left out of that because they identify as queer any more than I want people to be left out of that because they identify as “gay.”
Two: Queer is for everybody
Maybe you don’t fall in love with people of your own gender, whatever that is. But maybe you’re a strong woman. Maybe you’re a man who doesn’t like violence. Maybe you wear your hair “wrong” for your gender, or wear the “wrong” color for your gender, or walk wrong or read the wrong books or date wrong or vote wrong.
Look: I don’t care if you love women or men or everybody or nobody- there’s something about you that is queer. The constructions of masculinity and femininity in mainstream US culture are so unilateral, so stifling, so static- our culture demands that we all rigorously live up to the often-paradoxical demands of the gender to which we were assigned. The “q” acknowledges that none of us live up to those constructions, and maybe that those constructions themselves are harmful. I think there might be something you can learn from “queer” even if you don’t identify as Q (or LGBT.)
One of the places “queer” is popular is in academic circles: queer theory, queer theologies, etc. (I should mention here that if the only place ‘queer’ was popular was academic circles, I wouldn’t have lobbied to get it added to AWAB’s tagline.) It signifies a lot of things in academic circles, but one that feels especially important in our moment is intersectionality. Some scholars who take up queer theory take it up because they don’t want to choose between studying race and class, or between studying gender and sexuality. Queer theory is firmly committed to paying attention to the intimate (and often insidious) relationships among all of these categories. If we are to faithfully proclaim God’s welcome, we must also pay attention to these intersections. When does classism conspire with transphobia? When does our racism keep us from solidarity? How can we work on “LGBTQ Issues” while also working on the wide range of justice issues to which God calls us?
That’s my first three. I think I have others. But what are yours?
David is the Vice Chair of the Board and you can read more about him on our Board Page