Getting people to talk about sex, gender and relationships is not the easiest task in the world. Getting Methodists to do it seems even harder. So the idea that the best way to identify people who are not cis-heterosexuals as LGBTQQIAAPPN2K is a major barrier to beginning the necessary conversations we need to hold if there is to be progress towards a more inclusive and open church.
My experience has been that so many people are fearful of holding an open conversation because they don't want to get the language wrong. In their desperate wish not to offend, they believe that silence does the least harm. This is obviously not true of all, but for those who want to get it right, I firmly believe that we need to find safer language with fewer pitfalls.
It cuts both ways: the search for a term that is descriptive rather than prescriptive, inclusive and open to redefinition, and reflective of how language has been used to exclude and abuse. Many think that 'homosexual' fits that bill, but its etymology is profoundly problematic and as unhelpful as the term 'negro' was in a previous era.
I want to make a bid for the term Q+ or Q-plus. Whilst embracing and destigmatizing the word Queer, it acknowledges the history of dicrimination, prejudice, hatred and even torture and death that has been - and remains for some - the experience of those so described. Of course the original meaning of the word only seeks to describe that or those who are different or exceptional and that is also a meaning we would want to embrace. the presence of Q+ people forces hose who are not to acknowledge difference, not ust in terms of sexual identity, but ethnicity, gender, age, experience, social class. It proclaims 'normal' as exclusive!
There is still a need for LGBTQQIAAPPN2K to stick together, share experience, and continue the struggle for full rather than partial inclusion and equality. But we are in danger of becoming the scrabble people of God where others fear to talk to us! I offer Q-plus as a contribution to the search for an alternative.