The LGBTQ+ Community
The diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities can seem complex at first glance, even for people who identify with one or another of the letters in the acronym LGBTQ+. These realities are increasingly well documented, but many remain unknown or misunderstood by the population.
For example, did you know that many human bodies (between 1% and 3% depending on the study) have intersex physiological traits, that is, traits associated with both men and women? In Trépanier-Jobin’s survey of 1,665 industry members, 5% of people identified as trans, non-binary or fluid, and nearly 25% don’t identify as heterosexual.
In the face of this complexity, everyone learns at a different pace. It’s not surprising that we make the occasional misstep in our interactions with members of these communities. A little humility and open-mindedness will often be enough to defuse a tense situation. Some members of the LGBTQ+ community still experience a lot of exclusion or even harassment. It is best to listen to each person to try to understand their preferences and ways to help them feel welcome in a group. Not knowing everything is not a fault, it is a reality for everyone. Ideally, we would all have more time to learn about these complex realities.
There are many versions of the acronym that unites various orientations and gender identities, how do you navigate it?
The acronym LGBTQ+ is still widely used, with the “+” referring to the other realities that longer versions of the acronym make visible.
Acceptance of gays and lesbians in Quebec has made considerable progress, but trans identity remains misunderstood and a source of exclusion. Regardless of sexual orientation or sex assigned at birth, some people will identify with one of the poles of the traditional genders (male or female). Many people spontaneously reject this binarity when they have the opportunity to express themselves freely on the subject. The term “queer” expresses this non-binarity. A bit like the N word, it was originally used as an insult and has been reappropriated by some members of the community (so ideally we’ll be careful not to use it carelessly).
There are also new variations, such as 2SLGBTQIA, which show at a glance the diversity of human realities related to sexuality and gender identity (and at the same time, the shortcomings of the education we receive in relation to these realities). Interestingly, the order of the letters is often reflective of aspects of the history and culture of these communities. The “L” was prioritized in the original acronym to highlight the effort provided by lesbians during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s-1990s. Today, the prioritization of “2S”, for Two-Spirited, makes visible another little-known reality: many First Nations fully recognized that some of their members could not identify with the male/female binarity and fully valued the expression of these realities within their cultures.
Some people display pronoun preferences, including new non-binary pronouns such as “they”, or use more inclusive wording. Do we need to change the way we write and speak?
Some communities encourage their members to display their preferred pronouns to send a friendly signal. It is a signal to people who do not fit easily into social norms that it is safe to disclose that part of their identity. This type of measure remains voluntary. Some people still receive inappropriate or demeaning questions and comments, so no one should be required to publicly disclose their gender identity.
More and more people are incorporating elements of inclusive writing into the way they speak or write. For example, new pronouns may be used to denote the full range of gender identities (such as “iel,” in French), and phrasing can integrate both masculine and feminine pronouns instead of simplifying with the supposedly universal use of the masculine, etc. Again, these practices should be seen as a kind of friendly signal sent by some people on an ad hoc basis; there is no new standard rigidly imposed by any institution.
No one expects inclusive language to be practiced perfectly all the time. That being said, you’ll be amazed at the positive impact of occasionally using these more inclusive pronouns or formulations in your organization.
In the washroom, I come across a colleague whose gender expression does not match my expectations and/or the social norms imposed by the “male” and “female” pictograms posted on the door. What should I do?
Don’t panic, your gender identity is safe and will not be challenged by this uncertain presence. First, let’s state the obvious: what’s in your colleagues’ pants is none of your business. Let’s also bet that these adults of legal age are able to choose the bathroom that suits them best and do not need your intervention to reorient themselves.
Many organizations are now incorporating gender-neutral restrooms to avoid a situation that can become tense and unpleasant for people who do not perfectly fit society’s expectations of gender expression. The convention of separate toilets is so entrenched that we tend to forget that it is not particularly helpful or even logical to reveal one’s gender identity every time one has to relieve oneself. Fortunately, the equipment provided for the task works the same way in most bathrooms (which is probably why everyone has a gender-neutral bathroom in their home!)
With all this new information, I’m afraid I’m making a mistake approaching some of my colleagues. Should I avoid engaging in dialogue so as not to hurt people’s feelings?
Absolutely not. You shouldn’t be afraid to talk to your colleagues whose gender expression seems atypical. Approach them as you would any other person in a professional context: by definition you have a common interest (video games), you work on similar projects, and you are part of the same community.
Most people in the trans, intersex, and genderqueer communities have learned for a very long time to live with awkwardness, including being misgendered. It is possible for a person to become irritated by the accumulation of awkwardness or when they are having a particularly bad day (which happens to everyone). Conflicts emerge especially when a person is systematically bullied despite a clearly expressed preference, or in the presence of harassment from certain colleagues. Again, a few friendly signals from the environment and individuals can make a big difference.
If you have questions about these identities and cannot easily find answers on your own, you may want to talk to a colleague who identifies with one of these groups. As with everything, such difficult conversations should be carried out in a respectful manner. However, it is important to understand that some people will not have the energy or time to respond to you; living with a gender identity or sexual orientation that does not fit the norm can be exhausting. A negative response is not necessarily a judgment on your person or approach.
I try to keep an open mind, but I don’t understand why we have to go through all this trouble.
Changing norms and habits always takes time and energy. These efforts will provoke very negative reactions in some people, especially when they have never been confronted with these issues.
We cannot provide, within the scope of this page, the whole picture that would explain the essential nature of friendly measures and signals that aim at a more respectful inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community. First, let’s point out again that despite the reputation of a video game industry dominated by heterosexual men, Trépanier-Jobin’s study reveals that 5% of respondents identify as trans, non-binary or fluid, and nearly a quarter declare that they are not simply heterosexual.
It should also be remembered that societies that maintain a strong distinction in gender, particularly based on the gender assigned at birth, are facing an epidemic of human suffering. Several studies which highlight social problems and alarming suicide rates in the LGBTQ+ community make this abundantly clear. The “big changes” that may be perceived negatively are actually a few easy to implement measures, or behaviors to avoid.
Pour continuer à apprendre
En quelques minutes:
- Témoignage de Clémence pour la série La tête haute de FranceTV Slash
- Sorties clandestines à Montréal dans la série Montréal, la nuit (1940 – 1960) de l’encyclopédie Mémoire des Montréalais
- Assignée garçon, une websérie de Sophie Labelle
- Entretien avec Bretten Hannam, réalisateur du film Wildhood, mené par Yves Lafontaine pour le magazine Fugues
- La non-binarité n’est pas un pizzaghetti, un vidéo réalisé par Les Brutes
- LGBT Video Game Archive
- Le lexique de la fondation Émergence, ainsi que la formation pour les allié-es.
Pour le plaisir:
- A Year of Springs, une série de jeux créée par npckc
- C.R.A.Z.Y, un film réalisé par Jean-Marc Vallée, 2005
- Dys4ia, un jeu créé par Anna Anthropy, 2012
- Feel Good, une série réalisée et interprétée par Mae Martin, 2020, disponible sur Netflix
- Féminin féminin, une websérie créée par Chloé Robichaud et de Florence Gagnon, 2014, disponible sur ICI.tou.tv
- Il était une fois dans l’est, un film réalisé par André Brassard d’après les écrits de Michel Tremblay, 1973, disponible sur Elephant – mémoire du cinéma québécois
- Laurence Anyways, un film réalisé par Xavier Dolan, 2012, disponible sur Netflix
- Rainbow Billy – The Curse of the Leviathan, un jeu créé par le studio montréalais Manavoid entertainment, 2021
- Laurent McCutcheon et la révolution gaie et lesbienne du Québec de Denis-Martin Chabot, éditions de l’Homme, 2020, 240 pages
- Modèles recherchés : l’homosexualité et la bisexualité racontées autrement de Robert Pilon (ex président du GRIS-Montréal), Guy St-Jean éditeur, 2015
- The Queer Games Avant-Garde. How LGBTQ Game Makers are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games de Bonnie Ruberg, Duke University Press, 2020, 276 pages
- Victory – The Triumphant Gay Revolution de Linda Hirshman, Harper Perennial, 2013, 464 pages