Fresh G-A-Y Branding

Torn flag, by CFJ20

The old chestnut – what should we call ourselves? – is doing the rounds again, as I mentioned in a previous post.

Supposedly we need to change LGBTIQQ2A (or as Transgender Victoria‘s Sally Goldner called it the other week, WWCOTW – Whatever We’re Calling Ourselves This Week), for reasons too tedious and arcane to bother with here.

Can we please, for a moment, set aside all the arguments concerning inclusion/exclusion, political correctness (a right wing term meaning “having to be polite to people we don’t like”), and whether we are one community or several.This is a matter of branding.

For one moment, please come along with this former ad man and don your Gruen Transfer spectacles. Put aside your emotional investment in the issue. Consider LGBTI, dispassionately, as a brand.

As a brand, LGBTI sucks. And not in a nice way.

LGBTI is unpronouncable. In the early days of Joy 94.9, some presenters tried to turn it into a sayable word.  It came out as “glibbertick”. Which soon, mercifully, died. Try to do the same with the current most popular international acronym LGBTI and you get “legboti”, which is probably why no-one ever even started that one in the first place.

LGBTI requires explanation. Lengthy, and tedious explanation. You can see people’s eyes glaze over as you start in. By the end they’re tweeting your photo to their 350 bestest friends tagged “Boring arse-clown of the century”.

LGBTI is not a word. And for my money, the best acronyms form something resembling a real word. The Americans are especially good at this. One of my personal faves from Gay Inc is GLAAD – Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which monitors media portrayals of our community.

As if that wasn’t enough, we don’t even like it ourselves. We continually argue about it. We’re not happy with it. We already know LGBTI isn’t good enough. Which is why we are once again hearing arguments as to why we should start all over again, this time with GSD or some variant thereof  – and yes, the arguments have already started about exactly what the replacement should be, because we already know that won’t be good enough either.

Why ditch the huge amount of time and effort we’ve invested into LGBTI – all of which, I would argue, has been totally wasted – only to replace it with another dreary, doomed mess of initials? We need to rethink this from the ground up.

When people outside the bubble of Gay Inc refer to our community or any of its component sub-groups, they just say  “gay’. No matter how hard we try, we will never be glibbertick, or legboti, or gusd. Like it or not, we are, and will always be, gay. It has, as we say in the ad business, massive name recognition. So why waste it? Why do we keep trying to throw it away?

But, but, but, I hear you stutter, ‘gay’ is old-fashioned, male-centric, exclusive, makes LBTI invisible, and worst of all, most young people use it to mean ‘lame’. All true.

So let’s do what we did before. What we did with the word queer. Take it back. Own it again. Turn it to the positive.

Go back to GAY – and this time, always write it in caps. Because now we’re reinventing it – as an acronym. It’s short, it’s pronouncable, everyone knows it, and it requires little or no explanation. From now on, we will be the GAY community. Made up of people who are different – but just as Good As You.

Good As You

Now it encapsulates what we want to say, perfectly. We are every bit as Good As You, and deserve nothing less that to be treated as well as you.

Or we Aussies could of course go our own way and have something quintessentially Australian. Like NDU.

Noice, Different, Unusual. At least we might have some fun explaining that one.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)