Referring to “gays” and other LGBTQI+ community members is becoming a rising issue in the U.S. That is why we are embarking on a fresh journey, setting sail into the mesmerizing sea of sign language. But we are not just skimming the surface--we are plunging into the depths, exploring the vibrant world of LGBTQI+ signs.
Now, let’s go ahead and dive into the world of sign language in the LGBTQ community:
Getting to Know the Term LGBTQI+
LGBTQI+ is a vibrant acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, and many more wonderful identities denoted by the plus.
Expressing these in our daily chitchats has come a long way, and so has the art of "speaking" about them using the silent poetry of our hands.
How Do You Sign "Gay"?
Let's start simple. Picture this: You are in a silent movie, playing a gallant hero, giving a tiny, elegant salute. That is how "gay" looks in American Sign Language (ASL).
On a side note, remember to be respectful when using sign language for the gay community.
One World, Many Sign Languages
Hold your horses! It is essential to remember that sign language is not one-size-fits-all. Just like we have Spanish, French, and Mandarin, the signing world has its variants too. Like British Sign Language (BSL), Japanese Sign Language (JSL), and so on.
Let’s Paint a Bigger Picture
If you thought the world of sign language was just about hand movements, think again. It is an expressive canvas where hands, facial expressions, and context merge to tell a tale.
- Lesbian: In the world of ASL, this is portrayed by taking an 'L' hand shape (that is, your thumb and index finger making a charismatic "L") and dancing it from your chin outward in a delicate arc.
- Bisexual: Paint an imagery of taking a straight journey and veering in two distinct directions. In ASL, you would form a "B" with your hand (all fingers are extended and close-knit) and sweep it from one side of your mouth to another.
- Transgender: This is more of a two-part story in ASL. It starts with the sign for 'CHANGE,' visualize two fists swapping places. This is followed by 'GENDER,' adding depth to the narrative.
Sign languages, like their spoken counterparts, have their taboos. Some signs from yesteryears may be outdated or even offensive now. Being in sync with the times ensures that our silent conversations are both respectful and understood.
The Personal Touch in Sign
One of the heartwarming facets of sign language is its adaptability. Standard signs act as guidelines, but individuals often mold them to echo their unique identity, adding personal touches that make conversations deeply personal.
Here's Your Sign Survival Kit
- When in Doubt, Ask: Everyone appreciates a genuine effort. If you're navigating murky waters, simply ask the person about their preferred sign or the correct way to express something.
- Fingerspell Like a Pro: Bumped into a term that's alien to you? No worries. Fingerspelling can be your lifebuoy. Spell out the term, and you'll still keep the conversation flowing.
- Evolve and Adapt: Signs, like spoken words, evolve. Stay plugged into the sign language community, participate in workshops, or simply chat with those in the know. You will be signing like a pro in no time.