Are the terms “gay community” and “LGBT” community” synonymous?
Of course not.
But as many frustrated lesbian, bisexual and transgender people will tell you, they are often referred to as being part of the “gay community” by the media and others, who are trying to appear politically correct. I remember a U.S. president talking about same-sex marriage and using the terms interchangeably when, in fact, the sexual orientation issues he was discussing had nothing to do with bisexual or transgender people.
So, it is little wonder that some members of the general public assume lesbian, transgender and bisexual people are part of the “gay community” — though, some lesbians to refer to themselves as “gay,” while many others feel the term applies only to gay males, hence the L and G in LGBT.
Still, sometimes in reports, it is necessary to use both terms. Mick Côté of the Montreal Gazette — one of my colleagues — skillfully charts a course using those two terms in his recent opinion piece on Michael Sam.
Sam, you may recall, is the first professional football player to publicly come out as a gay man. He recently signed on to play with the Montreal Alouettes, and was received with much fanfare by Montrealers, especially the “gay community.” When he bolted from training camp recently with no explanation, leaving people to speculate, many people felt let down, Mick says in his piece, which is titled No, Michael Sam didn’t let the gay community down.
Note Mick’s choice of the word “gay” in the headline and in the first paragraph — the lede — of the article.
Throughout the piece, though, Mick talks about how Sam inspired the LGBT community, because coming out so publicly not doubt did inspire many others who are thinking of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans — just as Caitlyn Jenner’s recent coming out did the same. Both Sam and Jenner demonstrated how important it is to be true to yourself, and to stand up for yourself.
So, Sam’s departure from the Alouettes in no way diminishes that contribution to LGBT people.
But as Mick points out, it is mostly members of the Montreal gay community who feel let down by the departure of Sam.
Do they have a right to feel that way? Well, read Mick’s piece for his opinion on that.
Kudos to Mick for demonstrating how to use the terms correctly in a report. You think it would be obvious, but too many journalists don’t get it right: they conflate the four groups under the term “gay community” when they shouldn’t, thus confusing a lot of people.
Mick nailed it.
— Jillian Page, LGBT Perspectives editor
“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey