Monday, January 18, 2016

What Exactly Is LGBTQIA+

Many people have expressed confusion over the meaning of this commonly employed acronym. It's easy to understand where that confusion arises from, admittedly; while the assertion that “they add a new letter each week” is both condescending and inaccurate, it does sync with the impression being made by the many forms of this abbreviation which exist. More specifically, it matches up with the fact that multiple versions of this acronym are used on a regular basis – sometimes by the same people. Many who aren't a part of the LGBTQIA+ community are not familiar with the specific or implied meaning associated with the different abbreviated versions of the moniker, and there is a lot of misleading material available which can result in false impressions.

In the following account, I hope to clarify some of these acronyms, to explain their meaning, and to illustrate why and how they are in use at the same time. The frequent assertion that they are simply the same thing, with additional letters being tacked on as new descriptions are contrived or invented, is an honest misunderstanding.

LGBT: What it Means and Why it's Used

You will often hear about “the LGBT community.” LGBT stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual,” with the inclusion of “Transgender” having recently gained significant recognition as well.
The LGBT acronym serves as a convenient identifier. It is not, in this capacity, functioning as a specific recognition of all of the individual groups of people who fall under its label, but rather as a representation of the collective whole of the community.
Supposing you work for a major corporation which owns several smaller companies. You actually work within one of those smaller companies, but anything that applies to “Alpha Corporation” also applies to you. It is not meant to be a divisive moniker; quite the opposite, in fact. It is a broadly encompassing term that is meant to apply to everyone who is a part of the community at large. This is also a readily recognizable form, which makes it more convenient when one is dealing with the media, other large organizations, or individuals outside of – and unfamiliar with – the shared LGBT culture.

LGBTQ: How and Why it’s Different

One of the versions of the acronym that is less frequently employed is LGBTQ. The “Q,” in this case, stands for “Queer,” “Questioning,” or “Genderqueer.” The word “queer” is sometimes used as a blanket term for anyone who is neither heterosexual, nor cisgender (now, there's a much-maligned term; “cisgender” simply means that you identify with your biological gender, nothing more; unfortunately, some extremists have taken to using it as an insult). The word “questioning” is inclusive in this, but it reflects somebody who is not certain about either their sexuality, or the gender with which they identify – except that they know it isn't “normal.” 
“Genderqueer” is less well-known and understood by many, in particular by those outside of the LGBT community. People who are “Genderqueer” or “Gender fluid” do not identify primarily as being of either standard gender. They may identify with something completely different, or they may have shifting, overlapping identities – one or more male, and one or more female. Genderqueer individuals tend to be extremely unique and individual personalities.
LGBTQ was conceived of in response to the understanding that people falling under the “Q,” with all that it entails, are not necessarily accurately described by one of the four letters preceding it. It is one of the longest-maintained forms of the acronym which is intended to specifically reflect everybody that is included within it, and may be found used in that form – or, similarly to LGBT, in a form meant to reflect the whole of a community that consists internally of many varying and unique parts.

LGBTQIA+: An Inclusive Community

LGBTQIA+ is an abbreviation which is meant to be specifically inclusive of everybody who is a part of the LGBT community. It is meant to help everybody who is a part of one or more marginalized and rejected groups to understand that they are a part of something bigger than themselves – a community which cares, and which accepts them for who they are. This is a powerful feeling, one that most people take for granted. For the average, heterosexual, cisgendered person, there is no comparison to the feeling that they are literally rejected as being human, by a significant portion of the human race, for something that is so fundamentally and crucially a part of who they are as an individual. It isn't simply an aspect of their appearance – which is not meant in any way to make light of racism.
It is something which is deeply defining of who they are as a person, and would be even if we all shared the same race, culture, and ethnicity.
LGBTQIA+ adds three additional points to the acronym.
“I” stands for “Intersex.” Intersex is a reference to people who are literally “between sexes” and are thus neither male nor female. It is a biological, physiological definition, referring to people who have – for example – both male and female sex organs, although this is not a given. They might have biological chemistry relating to either gender, or some other “mix” of sexes that is not pyschological.
“A” stands for “Asexual.” Asexual people feel no great sexual attraction to other people, regardless of gender. There are a broad range of preferences related to, or falling under, asexuality; for many asexuals, they simply feel no desire to participate in sexual acts. They may feel romantically attached to another person; for many asexuals, that attachment doesn't seem to respect gender at all. Others define themselves as heterosexual or homosexual. Some asexuals feel sexual urges, but have no desire to participate in standard, penetrative sex – nor are they, as a rule, repulsed by it. The desire simply isn't there.
The “+” at the end is simply meant to include everyone who might fall outside of the other parts of the acronym. The community strives to be all-inclusive, but it would be possible to stretch the acronym out until it became completely unusable. The hope is that by the recognition of the “+” at the end, that those who fall under less common categories are no less significant to the community as a whole, and are as warmly welcomed within it as everyone else.

A Community that Cares

By whatever abbreviation it is known, the members of the LGBT community have built up a warm and welcoming culture, one which provides a place within it for individuals – regardless of traits labeled as deviant, abnormal, or strange by those outside of it – to feel loved and appreciated for who they are. There is a powerful need that lies behind being open about every aspect of one's individuality, and the desire to be accepted for who one is. The goal of the LGBT community is to extend that acceptance, while working to change prevailing attitudes in society. Hopefully, we will someday be able to help everyone to see everyone else in a better light.

Friday, January 8, 2016

How To Eat Healthy

Everyone wants to eat healthy. We'd all just like to have a little fun while we're doing it, right? Eating is one of the oldest social activities on Earth. Everybody loves to eat. To my way of thinking, the modern tendency to look at time spent preparing and consuming food as wasted time is what's strange and unnatural. The tendency of some people to eat too much is completely normal – they're looking for pleasure where they can find it. A little self-control would be nice, but it's at least understandable – much more than this “soylent” craze that's now sweeping America!
There are lots of responsible, all-natural ways in which we can enjoy our food without gaining large amounts of weight. Here are a few handy tips for eating healthy, and still having a good time while you're doing it! I'll even throw in a couple of ideas regarding cleaning up and other, time-saving measures, just to be safe.

Home Cooked Meals

Home cooked meals, using ingredients purchased from the grocery store, are a great way to create wholesome, nutritious, and delicious food that will fill you up with smaller portions. A lot of the processed food that's out there on our shelves today is very low in nutritional value. This means that your body is going to crave more after you're done eating it. Biologically, you haven't gotten all of the nutrients that it wants. This is deliberate; it means that you're going to buy more of the companies' food. Home-cooked meals, even relatively simple and easy to prepare dishes, are far more nutritious and satisfying than junk food, snack items, and microwaved TV dinners.
After a satisfying meal, wait until everybody is done, then have everybody help with the cleanup. Get a rhythm going – a definable process – and the job will be done in no time.

Crock Pot Meals

The crock pot, or slow cooker, is an amazing device. You can throw an assortment of ingredients in, and a few hours later you've got a meal ready. It's moist, delicious, and nutritious food... is it time consuming? You bet, but you don't have to constantly pay attention to it. You don't even have to be home while it's cooking. Many modern slow cookers have automatic settings, smart warming capacity, and other features designed to minimize the time you have to spend hovering over the pot. Best of all, it's a cultural trend all in its own – there are hundreds of different books out there which list crock pot recipes for each and every meal, snack, or dessert!
Buy a crock pot with an earthenware or ceramic interior bowl. They're naturally non-stick, so they're completely non-toxic – without any non-stick coatings that might flake or chip. They're very easy to clean as well, and are often dishwasher safe. With a slow cooker, you don't need to worry about a separate dish, tray, or pan for every part of the meal.

Herbs, Spices, and Seasonings

People might say, “eat more slowly. Chew your food,” but I know that – at least in my case – there's only so long that I can spend chewing on something that's dull and uninteresting. Using the right herbs and spices, in just the right amounts, can lead to a meal being much more satisfying and fulfilling than it otherwise would be. This makes a smaller portion of food easier to enjoy, and – if you can slow down, just a little – it will allow you to feel more full, more quickly. This will result in the same full, satisfied feeling – minus the shame! – with less food, thus less weight gain. Over time, the difference will show up everywhere: in the mirror, on the bathroom scale, and in your grocery bill.
Use an all-natural dish detergent to scrub pots and pans which have accumulated a layer of caked-on seasonings. Most natural seasonings will come right off, if they're allowed to soak in warm water and dish soap for a few minutes. 

Other Healthy Eating Habits

There are lots of resources available online with regards to good, wholesome eating that leaves one feeling happy and satisfied. Check out this website, which is designed to provide quick and easy to prepare food for a single individual living alone – or a young couple, just getting started, with lots of responsibilities taking up most of their time during the day. From there, you can look for recipes geared towards feeding a family.

Enjoy, and happy eating!