It’s hard to argue, particularly given the atmosphere on college campuses — and the very existence of Tumblr — that LGBT rights aren’t having a successful moment in American history. Social justice warriors have succeeded in painting gender as a social construct, freeing the world from oppressive “binary” pronouns and injecting enforced tolerance into every level of civilized society.
But according to one former LGBT activist, it’s precisely this expansion of vision — the formation of a “LGBT movement” — that’s brought the push for real equality to a standstill, as everyone argues over who and what the ” LGBTQIA+” “community” stands for.
According to Matthew Parris, writing in the Independent, the idea of an “LGBT community” made up of so many different — and often competitive — interests, no longer makes sense when you add in even more “marginalized” groups and their corresponding letters.
“LGBTQIA+ is now the maximalist abbreviation being recommended among campaigners for the rights of sexual minorities. Some bristle. Some take umbrage. And some, with a strong and earnest sense of injustice, prepare for battle in a cause that for them is brave and right,” Parris writes.
“Each to their own response: what I deny is that this is the single battle to be fought beneath a single banner — LGBT — to which a miscellany of sexual minorities owe allegiance just because our capital letter is in the title.”
Parris argues that being one of the letters doesn’t necessarily make you any more likely to understand the particular problems associated with communities represented by any of the other letters. “I doubt that being gay gives us any special insight into the mind of a transgender person or vice versa; and I’m if anything less able than a straight man to guess at the attraction a woman might feel for a woman.”
The problem, he says, is that new and all-important term, bubbling up, as he puts it, from the halls of Oxford and well-meaning community activist groups: intersectionality.
The theory behind the idea of an LGBT movement (or, for that matter, an LGBTQIA+ movement), is that oppressed minorities of different stripes share common oppressors, and that they are basically “all on the same side.”
But Parris says he’s “unconvinced” that because gays have had success in fighting for their rights they owe anyone else allegiance, particularly, as he claims, that many of the original battles — against homophobia, bigotry-driven discrimination, and even homelessness and drug use — are being fought and won in the gay community. And while he began his fight with an eye to overcoming oppression, he finds the newcomers aren’t as enthusiastic about setting and achieving goals.
“The V for victim that lurks, unetched, beneath that LGBTQIA+ abbreviation must not be allowed to depress our cause,” he says.
Parris may not be the first member of an old-school civil rights movement who feels this way. The women who launched feminism frequently complain that the movement is now in the hands of celebrities. College students who have never suffered oppression are now using a number of banners to validate their own claims of victimhood.
Parris says that its not up to anyone to leave other minorities struggling when they can help, but perhaps it’s time they start putting a little sweat equity into their own movements.