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August 13th, 2014 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Why do lesbians go first in LGBT?

drknow-allisonkerekILLUSTRATION: Allison Kerek
     
Tags: lbgt, lesbians

Why did the gay community adopt the acronym “LGBT,” placing the lesbians first? It was gay men and drag queens at Stonewall—I find it appalling that lesbians get top billing! Can we change it to GLTB? (“B” is last because they’re sellouts.) —Chris V.

You know, Chris, it’s a rare gift to be able to offend so many people in so few words. As I’m in that line of work myself, allow me to register my professional respect—you’re a veritable Glenn Beck among gay dudes!

Ironically, it’s precisely the attitude you’re espousing—that if lesbians insist on crashing the gay-rights party with their icky vaginas, could they at least please stay in the kitchen and be quiet—that led to their getting “top billing” in the first place.

The Advocate—a pretty influential rag as gay magazines go—instituted a policy of styling the acronym LGBT in the 1990s. In that magazine, copy editor Trudy Ring called this change “a reminder that gay women are not simply a subset of the larger male world.”

Now let’s talk about Stonewall. For those who don’t know (hi, Nana), “Stonewall” refers to a series of riots against police brutality at the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar, in 1969. They’re widely seen as catalyzing the modern gay rights movement.

As it turns out, what seem to have been the first blows of that uprising were struck by a lesbian—a “stone butch” who single-handedly fought off cops for 10 minutes. Reports vary, but many believe this scrapper was drag king Stormé DeLarverie, now hailed as the “Rosa Parks of the gay rights movement.”

DeLarverie died in May at 93, but some of her lesbian Stonewall comrades are alive and well. Maybe you should ask them to make you a sandwich.


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