Opinion: Equinox Tried Unsuccessfully to Define LGBTQA for Pride

lgbtqa equinox video
Written by Gary

Equinox made a powerful video for gay pride, but I think it needs adjustments.

First off, let me start by saying that I fully support any cause that helps to increase awareness of gay, lesbian, and trans issues, as well as any other letters they decide to add in. LGBT has transformed into LGBTQIU, LGBTQA, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually grew to become LGBTQLMNOP. I am totally all right with this, even if it is a little hard to keep up with. The LGBT community was built upon the idea of inclusion, support, progress, and awareness, and adding letters to our acronym seems to support those ideals.

This year, Equinox fitness decided to get in on the action and support the LGBTQA community by collaborating with The Center (the LGBTQA hub in New York) to create a video called “The LGBTQA Alphabet.” The video breaks down LGBTQA themes into letters of the alphabet, and their goal was to, “Create a film celebrating the entire LGBTQA Alphabet – twenty-six ways to share who you are and how you love. Because all voices deserve to be heard.”

We’re here for that. I’m here for that. I mean, the video is beautifully shot, featuring beautiful people in dramatic states of action, dance, and undress. The idea is a great one, especially for people like me who are really confused by our ever-changing acronym. I do, however question the overall message of the video, as well as a few of the letter choices.

READ MORE: Why I Support the New Rainbow Flag

The video depicts gay people are fashionable, beautiful, “unicorn people,” —  meaning that the letters seem to point out all the ways gay people are different from their cisgender counterparts. Yes, gay people are often very open about their sex lives, but that doesn’t mean exhibitionism, kink, and s&m have anything to do with the gay community at large. Sure, the words “femme” and “masc” are thrown around in our community to identify and categorize each other, but this is actually a really unhealthy thing that causes mental anguish for many people, so it isn’t something that should be highlighted in a video that’s meant to address the way the outside world sees us, speaks about us, and interacts with us.

Yes, we are gay (and a bunch of other shades on the sexuality spectrum), and that does make us different to a degree, but that difference ONLY extends to who we sleep with — a piece of our identity that is nobody’s business but our own. The “LGBTQA Alphabet” video sends the wrong message in my opinion. I totally appreciate what they were trying to accomplish, but creating a stylish music video to represent the gay experience by pointing out all the ways we are different doesn’t do anything to help along the gay agenda (not the one conservatives assume we have where we turn all the good religious babies into homos, but the one where we push an agenda of acceptance, tolerance, and the whole live-and-let-live thing).

Gay people are just like everyone else (gasp, humans!). We don’t all vogue (believe me, I’ve tried), or wear leather (believe me, I’ll try), or gender-bend (also, checked off the list), although those are absolutely important aspects of our diverse community, they don’t represent us as a whole.

I chose a few of the letters that I personally think could have undergone another round of edits, and renamed them.

lgbtqa equinox video

E is for Exhibitionist

Cisgender people enjoy public sex and showing off their bodies just as much as gay people, so I don’t consider exhibitionism to be a defining characteristic of the LGBT community. E should stand for EXPLORATION, because young people should be encouraged to explore their sexuality in their own time, without the influence of society or their parents.

lgbtqa equinox video

F is for Femme

In the lesbian community, feminine women are referred to as “femme” and sought after. It works the same in the gay community, except femme guys are looked down upon and often discriminated against. Both of these phenomena are direct results of the misogyny created by the patriarchy. Cis people categorize us, and we categorize each other even further. Do you see the problem here? F should stand for FREEDOM, because the freedom to be who we were born to be, is all we have ever wanted, femme or otherwise.

lgbtqa equinox video

K is for Kink

Just like our cisgender counterparts, there are both kinky, and vanilla gay people. Why is this word even associated with us? Is anal sex even considered kinky nowadays? I think that’s a thing straight people are doing if you pick up any issue of Cosmopolitan from this decade. K should stand for kindness, which is something we should all strive to show towards each other a little more.

lgbtqa equinox video

M is for Masc

Just like the word femme the word “masc” (meaning masculine, obviously) is used to describe a “straight-acting” guy in the gay community. Gay guys strive to be masc and even go so far as to alter their bodies and personalities to fit into this hypermasculine role and avoid the allure of see through pants, when most of the time they like it up the butt just as much as the everyone else. I won’t go into all the psychological ramifications of this, but suffice is to say that the word is incredibly detrimental to our community, and doesn’t belong in the alphabet of LGBTQA. M should stand for Marriage, because every human being should have the right to marry whomever they choose, regardless of sexuality or gender.

lgbtqa equinox video

S is for S&M

Kink and S&M are closely related, but I still don’t understand what either has to do with the gay community. How about S is for STONEWALL? Learning about the event that lead to the majority of our limited civil rights in this day and age is a much more positive thing than identifying us by the fact that sometimes we like to use whips and chains in the bedroom (something much more prevalent in the cis community, I might add).

lgbtqa equinox video

V is for Vogue

I can’t vogue. I’ve tried. My knees can’t take it (maybe Equinox should make a video about that). Vogueing is a style of dance that originated in the 1980s as an evolution of the Harlem ballroom scene in the 1960s. Thanks to Madonna and the movie Paris is Burning, the gays adopted it, but just because a subsection of gays are amazing at vogueing (if you don’t believe me, google ‘”death drop compilations”) doesn’t mean that it represents our culture, our lives or our experiences. We don’t categorize all midwestern straight people by their association with the Electric Slide. V should stand for VAGINA. I know that probably sounds ridiculous, but its my opinion that the word VAGINA should be used much more often. Maybe if we demystify the vagina a bit more, the patriarchy will be a little less threatened by it.

lgbtqa equinox video

X is for Xtravagant

The only reason I have a problem with X is for Xtravagant is because I don’t know what the hell it means, and as someone who has been gay for the past 34 years, I feel like I should at least have heard of every letter on the LGBTQA alphabet. Still, X is a really hard letter to work with. Oh wait, no it isn’t. X should be for XENOPHOBE. Xenophobe, as defined by Merriam Webster is a person unduly fearful of what is foreign, especially people of foreign origin.

The word xenophobe pretty much sums up the point of this entire article. The LGBTQA community is the ‘other’. We are looked at by the cisgender majority as different and less than. This feeling is based in fear of the unknown, as well as other psychological pathologies, but the message remains much the same.

The LGBTQA alphabet would have been more effective if Equinox had focused on the myriad things that make us the same as everyone else, instead of trying to glorify the small differences that set us apart.

lgbtqa equinox video

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About the author


Gary is the gay guy that every girl wants to be, and every guy wants to be with (Mostly because he can't get pregnant). He is based in Manhattan, but loves traveling to exotic new people, and sleeping with interesting new places. He is an adventurous writer, digital artist, and game designer that will try almost anything if it makes a good story.
--Instagram: @garyadrianrandall --Twitter: @gadrianrandall

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