Two of the queer community’s leading nonprofits are changing their names and logos in an effort to be more inclusive. But critics say it’s another example of assimilating into the straight world.
The Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal (LGCA) is changing its name to the Community One Foundation and adopting a new logo. The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA) will be changing its logo to focus on the “Archives” part of its name.
“There are more communities and we’re very diverse,” says Phillip Wong, the executive director of Community One. “We did a strategic planning process about where the agency should go about a year and a half ago. One thing we heard was that the name is an issue.”
Wong says including “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, two-spirited, intersex, queer and questioning” groups in a new name wasn’t seen as practical.
“We were looking for something that is marketable and inclusive and often the two are mutually exclusive,” he says. “We really racked our brains for a name that includes all those communities.”
Robert Windrum, the manager of CLGA, says the organization has adopted a new logo emphasizing the A in the name for the same reasons.
“It emphasizes the A because people commonly call us the Archives,” he says. “We’ll use the A alone in some cases but never far from the CLG. It kind of addresses the issue of not having to change our name every time for lesbian, gay, bi, transsexual, transgendered or queer.”
But Peter Bochove, the owner of Spa Excess, says such moves are attacks on distinct queer identities.
“It’s the old assimilationism,” he says. “If they want to add a few people they left out that’s fine with me. But why turn it into something people won’t recognize? I guess there’s a lot of gays and lesbians out there who want to be heterosexual.”
Wong says Community One will still be upfront about who it’s working for.
“We will be very front and centre with the communities we represent,” he says. “I think people who understand what we do to raise money understand that we have to appeal to our different communities.”
Wong admits the new name will be easier than trotting out a long acronym every time he tries to raise money.
“LGBTTTQQ is very, very challenging from a marketing perspective,” he says. “We have maybe five seconds to grab someone’s interest.”
Wong says the new Community One logo of a rainbow-coloured atom will also make its queer identity clear.
“What really drew us to this was the atom,” he says. “We’ve analyzed and broken down how different our communities are but there is something that pulls us gravitationally together.”
Windrum says CLGA debated using the word “queer” in its name but found a split in its volunteers.
“We have a younger generation who don’t feel comfortable with being called gay,” he says, “but we have a generation of volunteers who still see the word ‘queer’ as having a derisive tone.”
Windrum says CLGA eventually decided not to change its name.
“Are you going to feel any more welcome if we have trans in our name if our services haven’t changed?” he says. “I compare it to the YMCA. Anyone can attend even if they’re not young, male or Christian.”
Windrum says CLGA did support LGCA’s change of name as a means of reducing confusion between the two acronyms.
“We encouraged it,” he says. “We get cheques for the Appeal in our prepaid envelopes all the time.”