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There’s nowt as queer as semantics…
This section of the Crack is called Queer. Does that make you cringe? Do you wish it was called Gay? Or Lesbian? What about Bisexual, Trans, Unsure, Questioning, Bicurious, Nonstraight or Unhetero?
In March, the BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (BFI LLGFF) decided that maybe it didn’t like it’s name, and asked if anyone had any better suggestions.
LLGFF is not the most elegant of names, and as well as being rather a mouthful it’s not particularly accurate. It’s not just a festival of lesbian and gay films, because people don’t always fit into those two neat categories. And besides, the films may be comedies, horrors, action films, romance - why should the sexuality of some characters be the defining feature? Why should lesbian / gay be a category of film - you wouldn’t walk into a DVD shop and look for the straight section. On the other hand, if most films are assumed to be heterosexual stories, then it is refreshing to have a festival of films that speak to queer audiences. Oops. Queer. I said it again. Some people really love that term, others hate it. For the lovers, it’s a rather useful umbrella term that includes everyone who doesn’t define as hetero. For the haters, it will always be a term of abuse, and no amount of reclaiming will help it fit back into polite society.
Whatever LLGFF do about their name, most people will probably think it’s the wrong decision. In a way, that’s a positive thing. People are complex, and rather than labelling each other, we should just think about how we want to describe ourselves. And so, inevitably, if there are an infinite number of ways that people can define themselves, there will never be one category big enough to fit us all.