Reg Henry: LGBT Is A Ridiculous Acronym

While there is a certain artistry to deconstructing the propensity of acronyms, Post-Gazette columnist Reg Henry once again decided to add a little homophobic & transphobic thrust into his column du jour. In this case, Henry was condemning what he described as acronyms that are killing honest words. Among these are DOD, STEM, IED and IRS.


Now I turn sadly to the acronym LGBT, which refers to a community I have been highly supportive of for years. Yet whenever I hear LGBT, I think of a BLT sandwich. Forgive me. It is not prejudice, it is the power of bacon. Now more initials have been added to the acronym, which has become LGBTQIA in some circles. It’s as if a mad Scrabble player has been put in charge of a cause.

Does nobody realize that acronyms essentially dehumanize the people they cover, which is the last thing this group wants or deserves? Could not one word work for all? My recommendation is that if a suitable English word is not available, someone should call up the French, who have a word for everything.

Really? We are dehumanized by a self-chosen acronym that has a reasonable degree of universal consensus among the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, albeit one that Reg Henry finds distasteful.

Actually, he finds it ridiculous per an email exchange I had with him. And since by it, I mean we – the LGBT community – I can’t help but once again wonder why he finds us ridiculous, why he finds our identity AND our self-determination ridiculous.

For the record, I invited him to meet with some LGBT youth to talk about identity and language – he declined.

It was just a little over a year ago that Reg Henry used a nasty little “transvestite” joke in a column about the Olympics. It was a joke, he said. He loves the gay community, he said. Why didn’t that count for anything?


Here’s the problem. Reg Henry claims to love us, respect us, and “highly” support us. But I don’t see any evidence of those claims.

For example, he serves on the Post-Gazette Editorial Board. Yet he doesn’t seem to use that role to ensure fair or accurate coverage of LGBTQ community issues.

The Post-Gazette recently advocated for a piece of pro-gay legislation that would add sexual orientation to the state non-discrimination protected groups. Unfortunately, that legislation doesn’t exist. What does exist is HB/SB 300 which would add sexual orientation and gender identity and gender expression to the protected groups. This is highly inaccurate because amending the legislation to protect sexual orientation only would require the bill in its original form to get a committee hearing (and then amended.)  And the lack of committee hearing is the whole point. They got it so entirely wrong that it is almost laughable. If you are a wonkish person who understands the committee-floor vote process.

Except, the second largest newspaper in the state of Pennsylvania didn’t have the facts on a major piece of legislation which their own reporters had covered in the past. They have PLENTY of people who understand that process getting a paycheck each week and they still blew it. Sigh. Big dramatic sigh. No laughing here.

Another opportunity to be a big supporter to the community would be for the Editorial Board to get a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender style guide in place to ensure fair and accurate coverage. The City Paper has a style guide, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. Not the Post-Gazette. Instead, they bounce around terms like homosexuals, sexual preference, gay sex, and transvestite (see above) – all in the name of what, supporting us? Or supporting some of us? Supporting us when we make for good feature stories, but not being willing wrestle with using honorifics for people who are transgender? Those sort of questions that a STYLE GUIDE might address.

I’m so tired of this. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette continues to treat the bisexual community and the transgender community in particular like they are not even worth being included in an acronym much less statewide nondiscrimination protections. Like we are all just a joke, especially those who are not white gay men or lesbians. And even though I happen to be a white lesbian, I find it revolting and dismaying.

I am so tired of white cisgender heterosexual men controlling the tools and using them to make jokes, then cry foul when we don’t laugh. Guess what guys – it ain’t funny. And not only are we not laughing, but we aren’t buying your goddamned newspaper meaning you are essentially dinosaurs occupying prime downtown real estate that could be better used creating jobs in other sectors. And frankly, your continued refusal to give the LGBT community respect, courtesy or acknowledgement means you are the bad guys. You are the ones whose inaccurate and unfair coverage of the news sets us up for the looming disaster that is religious liberty in Pennsylvania.

Reg, all I can say is that the odds are good that you’ve got some LGBTQ kids in your extended clan and I hope one day you have the humility to stop smirking through the 21st century and start listening to people who aren’t like you. You are a real threat to our community welfare. And I feel sorry for you, sir. Because you could use your power for good. And you don’t even have the decency to look us in the eye.

PS: Reg – What one word in the English or French lexicon describes all of us accurately? If he has such a word then he should use it. And enlighten the rest of us….


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