When it comes to identity, a new short film on LGBTQA terms argues, “six letters will never be enough.”
The almost five-minute film by fitness club brand Equinox in partnership with The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City, expands on those six letters by adding 20 other ways people define themselves.
Dubbed as the “LGBTQAlphabet,” the goal of the campaign was the reflect how diverse the community can be.
“It’s critically important to our culture that we boldly acknowledge and celebrate the ways in which each of us is unique. One of the ways we can do that is through representation in creative projects like this film,” film director Jordan Bahat said in a statement.
The LGBTQA experience
Starting with the letter “A,” the film mixes both fitness and personal stories while expanding each letter of the alphabet.
For example, “D” is for “drag,” which an interviewee describes as, “limitless.”
“It allows us to challenge what society tells us we’re supposed be.
“W” is for “womxn” which expands on the reality that we still live in a male-dominated world, and spelling the world differently, for some, can take back some power.
“Those conversations were disarmingly honest and beautiful and, proudly, that spirit is on full display in this film,” Bahat continued.
Response on social media
But not all social media users agreed with some of the terms used in the film.
On Facebook, some users were upset the campaign used the term “ally” for the letter “A” as opposed to “asexual.”
“It is so upsetting that you would use the A to represent anything other than Asexuals. Way to continue to erase us,” user Chelsea Goodwin wrote.
“While allies are important, they just aren’t a part of the alphabet. Being a decent and supportive human being doesn’t make you a part of the community. Speaking up against racism as a white person doesn’t make you a racial minority — this is no different,” Abigail Bartram added.
Others, however, did appreciate what the campaign was trying to get across.
“The sad part about this, is that people are picking apart how the letters should be used. Equinox just did a commercial to say they appreciate the community and the only thing we can say is ‘you didn’t get it right.’ Equinox thank you for supporting the community,” user Anthony D Brown wrote.
“I think the point of the video is that there are a lot of groups and boxes and we are a unique and diverse community. Berating Equinox for missing a group like the asexuals in this video is a stretch… They didn’t mention bears or lipsticks or polyamorous or many other groups and they don’t have to given the actual message of the video. Saying that straight allies are not a part of us is just simply not true — they are very important and worthy of a mention as well,” John Anderson wrote.
According to Bustle, the LGBT community expands beyond just four categories, and “A” in particular represents asexuality, an identity for those who lack sexual attraction altogether.
While the University of Nebraska–Lincoln states the “A,” for their student affairs resources centre, stands for asexual/aromantic, allies and advocates or all.
How to approach someone’s identity
And if you are unclear which community someone identifies with, sometimes it is better to just ask, says Kusha Dadui, trans program coordinator at Sherbourne Health Centre based in Toronto.
“Different people approach it in different ways,” he tells Global News. “But asking is better than making assumptions. Asking someone, ‘what pronoun would you like me to use?’ makes the person feel comfortable.”
And while we all have the tendency to judge someone based on how they appear, Dadui says in the tans community, for example, the assumptions are often wrong.
“When somebody is asking you [how you identify yourself], they want to be respectful and they are trying not to make assumptions for the most part,” he continues.
Dadui also suggests if you are unsure, other “safe” questions you can ask someone is “What’s your story?” or “How would you like to be referred?”