Have a guess what today’s headline is describing. Go on, give it your best shot.
We’ll start you off with a few options;
- An exclusive golf club with an outdated dress code,
- A 200 year old London gentlemen’s club,
- The executive team running a FTSE100 company,
- The government cabinet of ministers,
- The shadow government cabinet of ministers,
- The board of a charity with somewhat “progressive” credentials,
- The nominees for a prestigious movie awards event,
- Henry, the mild mannered janitor?
A quick history lesson for the younger readers; London’s “Pride” was originally “Gay Pride”, and started in 1972 on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, New York. The riots were a response to Police brutality during a raid on a gay bar and are seen as a key pivot point for gay rights.
Language and definitions are useful milestones on the journey here. From the Wiki page on the Stonewall Riots (emphasis added);
Very few establishments welcomed openly gay people in the 1950s and 1960s. Those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay. At the time, the Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia. It catered to an assortment of patrons and was known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, transgender people, effeminate young men, butch lesbians, male prostitutes, and homeless youth.
All of those groups in italics were comfortable enough to be grouped as “gay” for the purposes of the subsequent civil rights activism which resulted in discriminatory laws to be repealed. i.e. the LGBTQI movement of today would have just the one one letter, “G”, back then and the “LBTQ and I” folk would have willingly got right behind it.
What started out as a civil rights movement in the 1970s has been incredibly successful. When the gay rights movement is compared with other civil rights struggles (Blacks in the USA, Catholics in Northern Ireland, for example), it’s clear that the key goals of the movement have been achieved in a remarkably short time period.
When many individuals can agree on a common goal, they naturally self-identify within a group; that’s the “gay” part of gay pride, an individual’s sub-category of gayness is less important whilst the main shared goal is still being pursued.
Perhaps though, when the shared goal has been attained and the consensus can’t agree on a compelling replacement, the group will fracture back down to the individual level. At the lowest level of analysis, we are all ultimately sitting in our own unique subset at the intersection of a myriad of Venn Diagram circles. Finding critical common unaddressed needs, gripes and complaints across very diverse individuals is actually quite rare in most circumstances.
The current trend is for this fracturing of previously large groups into much more tightly-defined smaller groups, hence the continued proliferation of letters each year on the LBGTQI continuum.
This should be actively encouraged by any sane individual who loathes identity politics because the natural end of the road for this trend is that we are all considered a minority; the individual is the world’s smallest minority.