Self-interest when campaigning for human rights rarely produces equality across the board. In the 1970s we had the battle of whether the G or L came first. If you put the G first you were accused of being a misogynist but if you put the L first you were just an uppity lesbian.
The B was the unspoken accommodation of people who were regarded as half in the closet and half out and since they infrequently raised their peculiar heads in public, they were considered more of a myth rather than an oppressed group. Sure it was fashionable to be bi if you were an actor or a pop star but certainly not in the office or on the factory floor and they were in reality publicly sparse on the ground.
In the 1990s the T joined the party. It was only supposed to be temporary but they brought HIV prevention funds with them so the spaghetti alphabet began to be worth millions of dollars, turned into an industry, got government connections, jobs and six weeks holiday a year. The T rarely got to speak for themselves because the gay-led professional campaigners thought it better to talk for them or about them, but often not to them.
The Q still remains like the opaque bathroom window where they can see out but most of us cannot see in and we often don’t understand who or what they are. It’s an anything you like label from alternative clothing to earrings through the nose. Who’s in and who’s out is like a board game that gets its own university department and degree.
The I is the reluctant relative who only shows up at family events when they absolutely have to because they think they are on the edge of the alphabet jumble. That is re-enforced when the cipher collective puts on a protest for everybody’s rights and forgets to involve the I to speak for themselves.
And the letter collection continues until no one really knows who’s speaking for what, whom and why but you can bet people who do not represent you tell you what your rights should be. You get pink washed or lilac washed as well-meaning campaigners jump in to speak for you, without knowing your issues, or they are mining for funds for their organisation under the gbltiqxyz pseudonym.
For those of you gay campaigners talking for groups you do not belong to, please stop pink washing us and our issues by speaking for us. It is appropriation. If it is not OK to appropriate colour, race or religion, do not do it about other people’s sex, gender or sexuality.
For those who are transgendering the rest of us to death, remember that not everyone who may have gender differences identifies as transgender and do not want to be lilac washed. Our differences that you cannot see may be around our sex characteristics, not gender, and we might not want to be the filling in the sandwich.
Millennials sort of get it but the old guard are still force-feeding us their home-made spaghetti because it’s paying their mortgage or they are waving out of date flags. So, take the time to ask people how they wish to be addressed and whether they would like to speak for themselves about their differences of sex, gender and sexuality. It’s only polite after all and you might just get better human rights for everyone.