We celebrate that you have the courage to take on the issues of heterosexism and homophobia. We do have a concern about the use of the term homosexual in the article’s subtitle, and we want to take an opportunity to use the article as a teachable moment and invite the writer-and readers of The Northerner-to engage in a new and more inclusive way of thinking, writing, and speaking.
Historically, the term homosexual is a clinical term that suggests same-sex desire is a pathology that can be cured. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed the term homosexual from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, which means the medical profession no longer considers same-sex desires as pathological.
As evidence of the misuse of the term homosexual, we need to look no further than the anti-gay rhetoric of nationally syndicated radio personality, Dr. Laura Schlessinger when she defended her characterization of same-sex desire as a “biological error” by saying, “I have never called homosexuals biological mistakes. ”
This is but one example of how the use of the term homosexual to refer to a person is considered offensive. More appropriate language includes gay for men who are attracted to men, lesbian for women who are attracted to women, bisexual for persons attracted to both sexes, transgendered for persons whose gender identities differ from the biological organs with which they are born, and queer as an all inclusive term for persons who do not identify as heterosexual. Sometimes, the acronym LGBTQ is used to refer to the community as a whole.
People think homosexual is an appropriate term because it sounds more formal than the aforementioned inclusive terms, but the terms in the preceding paragraph are the words approved by most academic style manuals and most people in the LGBTQ community.
Again, we thank you addressing the social problems of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and hope that this article will empower your advocacy in positive directions.
Tiffany Emerson, Russheena Johnson, Jimmie Manning, Dina Neumann, Jenny Prigge, Leland Spencer, Suzanne Rupert, David Ta, Rick Wagar
Representatives from Communication 695, Sexuality and Communication