If this is the main group now for all LGBTQI atheists on the Nexus, can we change the name to something more inclusive? If that's not possible, people are going to want to start splinter groups again and you're back at square 1.

Tags: administrivia

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I would be happy with calling it GLBTQI or whatever acronym is the consensus.

It took over 6 months of effort to get movement on this topic. Since the group that was the largest by a very large margin was named by its founder (Claire, her name is on the "creator" line) as "Gay Atheists", it seemed less confusing to keep the names unchanged until we are down to one group.

I spent a LOT of time working on getting the access to administrate these groups, and get them combined into one, including survey of the members, multiple emails to the creators who all went awol long ago, and many emails to A|N administration, and have kept the ball rolling when others seemed to give up. Frankly, having two groups called "GLBTQ" would be really confusing and counterproductive. It's already confusing enough. So my thought process is that once it's down to one group, we can name it with whatever "inclusive" name that is wanted. In fact, a re-survey of the semantics, hopefully with input from many members, and hopefully with international input, would seem appropriate and more democratic than seen with most other groups. In fact, having unadministered groups is the most nondemocratic process of all, since no one has any say. If there is no consensus (a very real possibility), then the most likely option would be LGBT although people will disagree whether it should be that or GLBT or LGBTQIAP or something else entirely.

I do think that we should keep the acronym as short as possible. But as far as I'm concerned, we can call the group "Apple Pie" if that is what everyone chooses.

As for splinter groups, we also have the Gay Humanist group and the Bisexual group as well. Those seem to be intentionally separate, so no attempt has been made to merge into those.
Yeah, it was a great idea to consolidate, I'm not critiquing that. And kudos on seeing it through!

As a total newbie around here, I don't want to tread on your toes, but you are going to hurt people's feelings with that "most universally accepted" language. Most universally accepted for those who think of themselves as gay, sure. But: Trans people are not necessarily gay because gender and sexual orientation are two different things. Bi people are not gay, they're bi. Intersexed people aren't necessarily gay. There are a fair portion of lesbians who don't use the word gay because they think of it as a men's word. And the people who like "queer" best are pretty vocal too.

These are not trivial distinctions. "Gay" simply does not apply to the entire range of people that this group is aimed at -- it's inaccurate, and people who are not included in "gay" will feel that you don't understand, recognize or value them, or want them around.

So I just (again, recognizing that I'm a total newb at this site) would urge you to consider taking out "most universally accepted", say that you are keeping the name as is to avoid confusion during the transition period, and as you said above in your response to me, note that the name will be changed by a democratic process when the transition is complete.

Acknowledging the problems with the current name and committing to a democratic change when the merger is done will most likely make non-"gay" members of the community feel better about joining and participating. That could make your merger move along more swiftly!
How is this:

" The "Gay Atheists" name is kept, for the time being to avoid confusion during the transition period. Once the group "merger" is completed, renaming the group, based on polling group members, will be proposed."

Thank you for the constructive tone of your suggestion. I was starting to get a little sensitive.
That sounds great to me. :)
How about using the word "queer" - that simply means anything other than straight, and if you wanted to cover the latter too, how about "queers and allies" or even better, "human"! :-)

Speaking only for myself, I can't think of a more inclusive word in American English than the word 'queer'.

I notice that the abbreviation you use, LGBTQI, doesn't include "Two-Spirited" (or is it "Two-Spirit" or "Two-Spirits"?), which is how Native American queers refer to themselves, or at least they apparently do in the queer community in Windsor, Canada (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-Spirit). Personally, I like the sound of "Two-spirit" better than "Berdache".

And the abbreviation doesn't include "Asexuals" either, folks who don't even ANY sexual orientation (http://www.asexuality.org/home). Although I would add, I know two such folks, and they don't use this term to describe themselves (they're clearly nonsexual, but don't identify with that label or any other label for that matter).

At the queer community center in Ferndale in Detroit, Michigan, they finally decided to do away with all of these separate categories after a transexual wanted to lobby to move the T in LGBT to the front of the word (sorry, I can't even remember anymore what the original name of the center was, even though it only happened I think about 2 years ago), and today the center is now simply called Affirmations (their website is www.goaffirmations.org). But unless you already know what the center is for, there's nothing in the name that tells you it has anything to do with the queer community, and I think it is better to use at least one word within the name that sends the clear signal to anybody who doesn't know about the group, otherwise we might as well name the center Apple Pie.

There is another gay group two hours north of Detroit, they call themselves Perceptions [of Saginaw Valley] (perceptionssv.org), and again unless you know what the group is about ahead of time, you don't know from their name that they even have anything to do with queers.

I notice the same problem again at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The gay center there decided to do away with categories too, and now the name of the gay student center there is called Spectrum Center (http://spectrumcenter.umich.edu), which probably is a reference to the gay Rainbow Flag symbol.

Maybe we should look around and make a list here of what other similar groups have done like I have just done for the three groups above, what name did they use if they preferred to avoid using words like LGBT, and then after compiling a comprehensive list of such words, maybe we could vote on the best word from this list, or maybe just seeing the list itself after it is completed might inspire or help us to come up with a word that might not even be on the list that we all find acceptable. What do you think?
But I have to admit that when I did an Internet search, I specifically searched the keywords "gay atheists" which led me directly to this group last night, whereupon I immediately joined. I also found a similar group on Yahoo Groups the same way, and promptly joined that group too. I can guarantee that if that phrase had not been used by either group, I might have simply missed both groups.

So if that is how I originally thought, then maybe we are stuck and we should stick with a name that folks are most likely going to drop into an Internet search engine? Maybe we should instead make a list of words most likely to be used in an Internet search engine to locate gay atheist groups, rather than make a list of what words gay groups have used for naming themselves. I definitely would not have used words like spectrum, perceptions or affirmations to seek out gay atheist groups on the Internet. I might have used other words like queer or LGBT or GBLT, and I would definitely have avoided words like homosexual. And in all of these searches I would have added words like atheist, atheists, humanists, etc.
I'm going to agree with Eric here - I'm all for being inclusive; the more the merrier in my opinion, and everyone should be welcome and respected... but when you get into the whole alphabet soup thing.. sheesh. It can get very messy. This is why I like the term "queer" as applying to all of the above... But as far as people finding the group and joining, I'm all for calling the group to keep the name as simple as possible for people doing a web search... and "gay atheists" is as good an option as any...

~T
When people design web pages, in the header of a web page the web developer tries to include all the possible Internet search keywords to maximize the odds that page will appear. The header is the part of the page that only the web developer sees. So the keyword you use in an Internet search, even if you can't figure out how you landed on a certain page because that keyword you used doesn't appear anywhere on that page, it may still be there, but only in the header.

Unfortunately, we don't have that luxury. Maybe we can take a middle of the road approach - use a group name selected after looking at how other groups have named themselves, but immediately below that name in smaller font size include a list of every possible relevant Internet search keyword. It wouldn't look very pretty. I guess you'll have to decide what you want to do here, smile. A pretty name that nobody will ever find in any Internet search engine, or an ugly name that every gay atheist not yet in Atheist Nexus can find easily. I think it's more important to bring in as many gay atheists into Atheist Nexus as possible. If that leads to splinter groups, maybe that's ok and we can live with that.

Or maybe someone else has a better idea?
One option to make it searchable and inclusive would be rename the group "Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex Queer Questioning Allies Friends Same-Gender-Loving Agnostics Atheists Brights Humanists and Nontheists."

Not sure if it would fit in the title line. It's a teensy bit awkward. It does include most of the potential search terms. It's reasonably inclusive, although it doesn't a few categories of self-identification. Some (maybe most) people would disagree with the order of the terms. It's not flashy. It's not totally USA-centric, so people in, say, Brazil, with a reasonable understanding of English, would still be able to search on Gay and Atheist or Lesbian and Agnostic, for example, and actually come up with this group, whereas LGBTIQQAFSGLAABHN would not be searchable or identifiable to the person in Srebenica or Des Moines for that matter. Possibly, that non-USA person and possibly nonEFL (English as a first language) person would never find this group, even if the more "standard" LGBT/GLBT was used. Or do we write-off nonUSA, nonEFL persons and say we don't want to be inclusive of them, while promoting A|N as an "International group"? Just askin'. Please note, when Ellen came out, she said "Yep, I'm gay" and the group founder, also a woman, named this group "Gay Atheists". However, 98.7% of all nonmale-same-gender-loving persons would disagree. (I made up that statistic just now)

I think it's helpful to have all of the options laid out clearly, and to discuss the pros and cons. I'm providing food for thought here, and not tied to a single option. Like I say, if everyone wants to call it "Apple Pie", cool - we'll have the other terms in the group description.

In fact, I think that if someone has has a motivation toward a particular name, it's helpful if THEY discuss the pros and cons of their own idea, so it shows that there is a thought process. Which I just did, above. If someone doesn't like an idea, it's most helpful if THEY state what they think is a reasonable alternative, so that it doesn't fall into a passive-aggressive stance of "I don't like your idea but Im not going to tell you what I do like".

I'm looking into doing a survey-monkey-type survey, that can be placed on the group front page. Not sure if that's possible. If this renewed discussion comes up with, say, 5 options to be voted on, and if I can get the survey in place, then interested people could vote. That would be good to do after the other 2 groups are closed, I think, again to avoid confusion.

I really appreciate the tone of this discussion, starting with Andrea's helpful suggestion, which I followed, and carried through with additional comments. It's a positive conversation and I hope to see what others say.
Daniel,

What about LGBT and GBLT? Aren't those words likely to be Internet search keywords that gay atheists might use too?
Eric,

You might be right. I don't know. I know that LGBT and GLBT are searchable, but I'm thinking more of what someone is likely to use to search. One thing that we don't want to forget about, however, is the international aspect. Would someone in Sao Paolo search on LGBT? Moscow? Manila? Would a Tagalog speaking person know LGBT? Would they know gay? Also, what about those who are not in major metros in the US? Would someone in, say, Bozeman search on GLBT? Would they search on gay? I don't know the answers to these questions. If we are going not try to make this discussion accessible for those persons, why? We do have a few nonAnglocentric persons here.

One thing that is also an issue is, heriarchality of LGBT/GBLT etc, using these terms says someone has to go first. I'm not saying that's bad, but just saying that it's so. I've seen SO many arguments on that issue. Then, does LGBT/BLGT/TLBG/TGIF, by listing just 4 choices, become exclusionary of persons with other sexual minority status? Why aren't we including questioning, intersex, and for that matter, the 2Spirited (Thought I'd throw a number instead of a letter there). However, is 'spirit' nontheist?

One way to look at it is to decide on what are the priorities?

Tradition? Common Use?
Accessibility? (Language and able to search on internet)
Inclusiveness?
Welcoming?
Cool-sounding?
Nonheirarchicality?
Antiprivilidgist?

I'm just throwing these out there, not saying that any particular criteria are important to any particular person, but you can be sure that some are important to someone. If we chose as a name, say, "Nonheterosexicentric Nontheistic Persons" - Then that's pretty nonheriachical, it's inclusive of all nonheterosexicentric persons, so pretty inclusive I think, although it's defined negatively (sort of how atheist is defined). It's nontraditional & not common usage. It's extremely, incredibly cool sounding (because I just made it up). It's not really antiprivilidgist because it doesn't prioritize persons in reverse-privilidge order (Probably in that case we would have Intersex > Transgender > Lesbian > Asexual > Bisexual > Gay > Friends although some would argue details here. It's not proprivilidgist either, however. It's probably not too welcoming, although if we placed the word "Welcome" in there it might help. Accessible by search engine and to nonAnglocentric persons? Not.

By the way, I'm at least 90% tongue in cheek on this. But I'll let people guess which 90%. But I'm also almost 10% serious, and these issues will all come up in the discussion.

Sorry, I analyze everything to death.
I actually typed another reply earlier, and after I clicked "Add Reply," it vanished into the void, it's not here at all on this page. I noticed that the website or at least the screen seemed to pause a little bit just after I pressed return, and then it was completely gone. Darn! So I'm going to try and repeat part of what I said in that missing post.

First, I think I made a mistake earlier - any Internet search engine only needs to see the words somewhere on a page, it doesn't matter if it's in the group name or not and the header helps but just as long as the keywords are there somewhere the search engine will flag this page.

Second, I remember that when I searched the Internet for gay atheists, I went through each page for a few seconds and decided pretty quickly whether I was wasting my time on that page or not. So you want a few key words placed on the upper half of the screen somewhere, the first screen you see, that'll get the attention of new eyeballs.

The rest of it doesn't matter. Pick a pretty name if you want, the page will still show up if the keywords are there somewhere else, like within a post. So ironically your recent posts and mine could be all that's needed now to get them here, this page will be flagged. They'll likely end up here. Smile!

Several days ago I did a search on Google.com for "gay atheists Rochester New York" and came across three postings here on this website. I didn't see anything else, I didn't know how this website was set up and I assumed wrongly that this was probably a website for straights and there were only three gays on it. I didn't plan to be back. I only quickly eyeballed these posts and then moved on to other links.

Then yesterday I did another search, this time on Bing.com, and this time I searched for "gay atheists" - this time I came across the page for Gay Atheists on this website. This time around I joined Atheist Nexus and then this group.

This website is clearly an English-speaking website. The odd post might not be in English. But you don't seem to realize what happens next as a result. Speakers of other languages will have browsers in their languages that will automatically screen out pages and sites not in their browser's pre-set language. They must use a browser specifically programmed for English to get their browser to lead them to this website. That's why you won't see a page in Chinese type or in French or any other language usually pop up in your Internet searches. When I accidentally saw a Spanish or Chinese page, it was usually because I typed something wrong in the URL text box, not because a browser led me there. Thus I would think it isn't too meaningful to discuss other languages here. Anybody here from another country probably used an English-oriented browser intentionally, which likely means they presumably already know something about English before they got here or they wouldn't really know what they were looking at to begin with.

I think that as much as we hate it, words that appeared in a certain order first can often take precedence over different orders later. We say Abbott and Costello, it now automatically rolls off our tongues. Nobody says Costello and Abbott. We say Siskel and Ebert. Nobody says Ebert and Siskel. The order was totally random at first. Same with LGBT. You see GBLT, but not as often. Good luck trying to get everybody to use a word like TGBL. It's got totally nothing to do with exclusion, it's more human nature to simply go with what spread lexically first, right or wrong. The first word or two that fills a space that wasn't filled before, it can take a long time to get such words changed. The more often a word is used, the harder it will be to change though it will still happen (any language is a living language, everything changes if you wait long enough) but it's really a ton of work once the first words successfully plant deep roots in the culture. The order of the letters in the word LGBT has got nothing to do with intentionally discriminating against transexuals. Mis-analyzing words however is also a productive way of creating new words so it's not necessarily negative to talk this way at all and if something like TBLG ever really takes root, the queer community is such that that it could potentially happen, fine with me, just as long as we can all understand each other.

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