There’s something absurdly comic about long hyphenated names in English, something which irresistibly invites ridicule. One of my favorite examples occurs in Evelyn Waugh’s black comedy Decline and Fall — Sir Alastair Digby-Vane-Trumpington. Both comic and decadent, as ADVT is one of a pack of drunken students whose carousal precipitates the hero’s expulsion from Oxford.
This is not something that the po-faced sexual minority lobby seems to have twigged to. Exhibit 1 is this report on this year’s Lavender Graduation from the McGill Recorder, the “journal of record” for Canada’s premier university:
On May 21, graduating members of McGill’s 2SLGBTQIA+ community were honoured in the virtual Launch of the Rainbow (LavGrad) event. Organized by the JBSCE Sub-Committee for Queer People, Queer McGill, PGSS, Queer Grad Club, and the UGE, LavGrad celebrated the achievements of McGill’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Pansexual, Questioning, Two Spirit, Non-Binary, and Asexual (2SLGBTQIA+) graduates, and their allies and families.
Once upon a time it was just “gays”, then “gays and lesbians”, and then LGB. After a pause to catch their breath, a T was added, and then in rapid succession, a Q, an I, and a +. But 2SLGBTQIA+ breaks the back of intelligible discourse. And that still leaves out the Pansexual, Questioning, Non-Binary and Asexual. Where is Evelyn Waugh when we need him?
As often happens, comic prose is a symptom of deeper problems, in this instance both for sexual minorities and the broader society.
First, fragmentation. The Digby-Vane-Trumpington Syndrome implies that behind each of the letters is a community of like-minded individuals with the same gender-identity. But that unity is only superficially plausible. Just as Yugoslavia, an artificial state held together with ideological sticky-tape, exploded into hostile linguistic and religious groups, the unity of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities is specious. Whether pansexuality and asexuality even exist is questionable. Some LGBs have already ditched the T. The LGB Alliance, in the UK, claims, for instance, that “attempts to compel women to believe that male genitals can be female is a form of sexual assault, an attack on the rights of lesbians and a threat to their very existence”.
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