Offensive Acronyms and Why I Use Them

rainbow1After a recent discussion on Goodreads with an LGBTQ community group, I have discovered that I may be offending some by using a certain acronym. I apologise for causing offense, it was never intended. I’d like to take a closer look at the reason this acronym is abhorred by some.

The acronym in question is QUILTBAG, which stands for Queer, Unisex/Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Bi, Asexual and Gay. I love this acronym! It incorporates the largest variety of sexual preferences into one easy to remember, handy acronym. I’ve used this acronym on numerous posts about gender and sexuality and have never had complaints or comments about it being offensive, until now.

Since I’m pretty thick skinned and do not take offense easily, if ever, I realise I might not be the most sensitive to what others find offensive.

So why would QUILTBAG be offensive? – I asked those who commented about the term.

The answer is the ‘bag’ part, which resembles the term scumbag a little too closely and therefore has the potential to be used in a derogatory manner.

To be honest, I rolled my eyes a little at this. ANY word can be used derogatorily depending on how it is delivered and combined with other words. Put ‘damn,’ ‘bloody’, ‘f*cking’ – in front of any label and it’s going to be derogatory. I never made the connection between QUILTBAG and scumbag until it was pointed out to me. Then I again, I was proudly a ‘fag hag’ for many years (sadly, we now live on different continents so maintaining fag-haggery is tricky) and never considered that offensive, when many others considered both the fag and hag part derisive. I thought it was amusing and cute, and so did the fag to whom I was a hag.

The suggested alternative to QUILTBAG is LGBTQ. Fine, but that leaves out a bunch of sexual preferences and gender identities for the sake of possibly not offending the more delicate in the rainbow community. I find the idea of eliminating nuisance letters for the sake of a less potentially derogatory acronym more offensive than the possible connection that might be made between QUILTBAG and scumbag – who even uses scumbag any more?

The other argument was that ‘I’d never identify myself as QUILTBAG but I will say I’m LGBTQ’ – really? You’re lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer all at the same time? *Mind blown* I have yet to meet anyone from the rainbow spectrum who identifies themselves as anything other than what they are that is gay, or lesbian, or bi, or queer, or couldn’t-care-less.

So what’s the solution? While I’m thick skinned (hey, I’m an author. You have to be thick skinned to survive rejection after rejection) and find most attempts to offend others amusing or sad, I do sympathise with those who may not feel the same way I do. That said, I am still going to use QUILTBAG because I consider greater inclusion in my acronym more important than the potential risk of misuse.

How do you feel about the QUILTBAG acronym? What words do you find offensive?

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