Spring into Volume 26: The Ampersand Issue

Published in: March-April 2019 issue.


SO, A NEW LOGO and a new cover design. The old heading, which spelled out our name in full, lasted for 25 years and served us well. But it was time for a change.

            Rest assured, the name of the magazine remains the same: The Gay & Lesbian Review / worldwide. But I fear it is an old-fashioned name, and it stands out ever more starkly for not including other members of the LGBTQ+ coalition. Thus we find ourselves facing the old “NAACP problem,” which that venerable organization addressed by dropping the words and keeping the letters. Our new logo is an attempt to do something similar: to keep the original letters but highlight the ampersand, which means here “everyone else.”

            So, drumroll please: I would like to propose that the ampersand be widely adopted to replace the pileup of letters that continues to expand as more minorities hop onboard. There’s a piece in this issue that gently lampoons this trend, pointing out that the sequence LGBTQQIAA2S is now standard usage in some publications, among other variations. An alternative is to hold the list at LGBT but add that + sign just for good measure. My proposal is simply to expand that logic and eliminate everything before the “et cetera.”

            What’s included under the ampersand is open-ended and not necessary to define. Any sexual or gender minority is welcome. What they all have in common is notidentifying as “straight” or “cisgender.” Recent surveys of sexual and gender orientation have taken the tack of providing a range of different categories for people to select from, including “questioning” and “asexual” along with gender-nonconforming options. Studies of young people have been turning up a consistent 25 percent who don’t identify as “straight,” but within that quarter slice are quite a few separate slivers, with traditional “gay and lesbian” typically stuck at around five percent. (The word “queer,” by the way, which is often sold as an umbrella term, is still offensive to many people and seems increasingly to connote gender nonconformity.)

            Getting the world to break its linguistic habits is undoubtedly beyond the capacity of this magazine, but at least we can try to keep our own house in order. Here I want to stress that The G&LRhas always tried to be inclusive of any subset that might be covered by the “ampersand.” If our content has tilted toward gay men, this reflects the submissions that we receive, while efforts to recruit more women writers have been ongoing. I think we’ve done a pretty good job with transgender issues, while bisexuals remain a silent minority for the most part. As we begin our 26th year, our intention is to remain true to our “gay and lesbian” origins while reaching out to other identities in keeping with all that the “&” symbol implies.