I have been thinking a bit about the concept of community lately. It’s a damn perplexing noun. It is one of those ‘one size fits all’ words that is grievously overused, never more brazenly than by we festive gay units.
‘Community’ can mean a veritable boatload of stuff. It can be used to describe a hamlet, village or town and even interacting living organisms. It can help define a ménage sharing beliefs, resources, preferences, needs or risks. It is just an identity to assist the masses to feel massively more comfortable to identify a superabundance of like junk.
Our councilmembers and candidates overuse it in bundling queer folk, and no one is more blatantly guilty of its abuse as an all-purpose tabernacle than me.
In gay gibberish we employ it to cover each and every niche-assorted acronym like LGBT. And there’s the rub. We are a virtual bevy of distinct groups yet queerly allow bundling. Writer Sam Killermann expanded our tent to include LGBPTTQQIIAA. That is any combination of letters attempting to represent all our identities. His near-exhaustive acronym includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, intergender, asexual, ally and more in our massive mess of humanity.
But the truth is we are not really a united community at all. More like alphabet soup. I mean, L is a fierce community unto itself. So are B and P and B and G. I guess ‘questioning’ is a clueless community yet still its own bunch. I hope both ‘intersex’ and ‘intergenders’ are a happy clique community, yet I’m certain they don’t want my kind tossed in with them.
I just read that a proposed mini-version of San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair bash to be tossed behind the Gold Coast would be a “BDSM Play Party” for a community that digs doms and subs and daddies and pets. You gotta admit that’s fairly specific.
True, we join in lockstep on some social, political, ethical, moral, aesthetic and doctrinal issues, but the true like, love, licking and loathing of penises and vaginas and boobs and pecs in some various ways does indeed separate our big-tent ‘community’ into a whole bunch of species.
That’s really what we are. A cadre of distinct species that are easily grouped by simplistic language but not really in stark reality. Under a big banner of fetishes, we make up a bevy, a bundle, a troop or clump of cads most easily explained away as community. And here’s where it really can trip you up. Killermann’s checklist notes ‘ally’ is tossed in with us.
So now our community includes virtually everybody that doesn’t hate us. If all the world is a stage, where the hell is the audience sitting?
At WeHo’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, hetero Mayor Abbe Land, a confederate to our species, spoke of the 238 trans people known to have been murdered in hate-based attacks. “We as a community say that is intolerable.” I get it. I mean, she couldn’t really say, “We as a virtual potpourri of species made up of LGBPTTQQIIAAs and more say that is intolerable.”
A couple of weeks ago at a ‘community’ forum on Pride tossed by the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, I was so moved by several transgender voices. Speaking about West Hollywood’s Pride, transgender resident Anna Melissa—someone I likely have little in common with—said, “Right now, I don’t believe we feel welcome.” What community? I was ashamed for our bundled bunch.
If the proposed BDSM Play Party is approved, I likely would not feel welcome, and I’m way cool with that. We just have to realize we are together in this, and we need to respect and love if not understand one another.
It seems to me there is no harm in bundling us species as long as we don’t use it as an excuse to lack compassion and understanding. The truth is that all of us in the LGBPTTQQIIAA neighborhood are joined at the hip. We need to take time to understand one another before we pretend to be united.
I guess to me the smug term ‘community’ seems a bit too cold, and ‘species’ I know will never cut it. I prefer ‘family,’ because that’s what we are. The necessity to protect a community is formal, but the desire to protect your family is personal. I mean, you love your toothless drunken uncle, your demented cousin, your slutty sister and your sweet grandma because they are your melting pot of family.
The truth is that we are family, and we often forget that. Of course LGBPTTQQIIAA is silly, but giggle at it as a reminder to love all the species that make up our family—er, our community.