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Recently, I have seen several articles where the usual LGBT has been amended to include “Q” for Queer. However, I was wondering do we really need to add this new letter?

“Queer” has for many years been used as a derogatory name for a homosexual (gay man). Regardless of what many may think it still is, and I am offended that this word is even being considered.

Of course, the original “meaning” of “gay” was fun-loving etc., and eventually became used as the slang word for homosexual/queer. The original “Gay Gordons” had nothing to do with homosexuals, but was a nick name used for the Gordon Highlanders Regiment of the British army (1794-1994).

At one point the word “gay” encompassed all homosexual and lesbian groups and individuals and as homosexuality became more accepted and with changes in the law in England in 1967 (1981 in Scotland) the word ‘gay’ became more used to mean homosexual male. Lesbians felt that they needed to be represented separately and “L” was added. Remember lesbianism had never been regarded as illegal.

Before moving to Manchester in the 1980’s, I remember running a group in Scotland called “GALA Club” (Gay and Lesbian Association), as that was all that was needed.  We were open to anyone who wanted to join.

Then in the 1990’s “B” was added so as to include the bisexual population. According to the Kinsey Reports – 1948 and 1953 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_Reports), “nearly 46% of the male subjects had “reacted” to persons of both sexes during their adult lives, and 37% had at least one homosexual experience” and “Instead of three categories (hetrosexual, bisexual and homosexual), a seven-category Kinsey Scale system was used.” Personally, I know more gays and lesbians than I do bisexuals (or at least who are open about it), although some gay men do have children, and will have no doubt been in a relationship with a woman.

Later, the letter “T” was added so as to include the transgender population. Many of whom do not consider themselves as either gay or lesbian (or even bisexual), but felt they needed to be associated with the LGB community. Because they were attracted to the same sex then it was assumed they must be gay or lesbian! I know many have ‘lived’ a gay/lesbian lifestyle in the fact that they enjoyed the company, or even partnered, someone of the same sex, but that does not make them “gay”.

I personally knew such a person many years ago. “She” saw herself as a man and had for some years acted and, to all intent and purposes, looked like a man. Although I had suspected something was not as it seemed, I only found out when her cousin told me the truth in case he said something about ‘Joyce’ and not ‘Keith’ as I had known the person. Channel 4 aired “My Transexual Summer” in the autumn of 2011 and I could see Keith in some of the characters and it was a shame that he did not have the support as he could have now.

I also know a woman, who until a few years ago was a man and married. When he first asked me “where do trannies meet in town” (his words, not mine), I assumed, as many would, that he liked dressing up in woman’s clothes and didn’t want his wife to know. However, this was not the case; that person divorced and went through the operation and lives and works successfully as a woman. Does she consider herself as lesbian or gay? I doubt it.

Now, this brings me back to square one with the addition of the letter “Q” to the already long list of letters to use.

But do we need it? Unless it has changed “Q” still stands for Queer which encompasses all the original 4 letters and is therefore not needed.

Where will this stop? Why not add “H”, “S”, “U”, “C” or even “F”, or any other letter that you can think of.

In conclusion, I think that unless we decide to add the other letters so as to cover all the eventualities, then it is left well alone as “LGBT”.

This is my personal view and not necessarily the views of the committee and members of the Gay Gordons Manchester.

Do we need another letter?

Scottish Country Dancing and Health:

The following is an extract from “Dance Scottish” Magazine.

Sabita Stewart, a researcher at Glasgow Caledonian University Division of Physiotherapy, carried out a study in collaboration with Glasgow Branch into the effects of SCD on bone health. Here is her report.

Background : Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone strength is reduced because of a change in bone quality and a reduction in the amount of bone material present. It is thought to affect 1 in 3 (postmenopausal) women and 1 in 12 older men. It is often called the ‘silent killer’ because it may not be diagnosed until one or more bones are broken. There are 20,000 osteoporotic fractures every year in Scotland and the bones most commonly broken are wrist, spine and hip. Following a hip fracture one third of people do not regain their former independence. The personal costs, in terms of finance and well-being, are immeasurable, affecting not only the individual, but also family, friends, neighbours, work and leisure.

Studies have shown that fractures can be prevented by improving bone strength and avoiding falls. To improve and maintain bone strength, current guidelines recommend that low to medium impact exercise, such as stepping, marching or intermittent jogging, is more appropriate for individuals over 50 (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. 1999). In the Glasgow area there are 15 physiotherapist-led exercise classes a week which are specifically for individuals diagnosed with, or at risk of developing osteoporosis. These classes, which cater for approximately 450 people a year, incorporate exercises such as stepping, march and sidestepping to provide the recommended impact forces.

How much impact force is enough? A large well conducted study undertaken in Germany (Kemmler et al,2004) used 50 postmenopausal women and showed that activities which generate impact forces between 1.5 and 2.5 times bodyweight could offset bone loss.

It has been suggested that certain forms of dance, including Scottish country dancing (SCD) may provide similar impact forces and therefore also be good for bone health. Latest figures provided by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society show that there are 3,700 registered members in Scotland dancing each week as well as an unknown number of unregistered individuals dancing with both affiliated and unaffiliated groups.

Scottish country dance study : There has been very little research on different types of dance that could provide suitable impact forces to improve and maintain bone health. A study to evaluate SCD focusing on the pas de bas step was undertaken at Glasgow Caledonian University in 2008. The pas de bas step was compared to marching and side-stepping, two of the exercise included in physiotherapist led exercise classes. To recruit volunteers, adverts were placed in RSCDS Glasgow Branch newsletters and one Glasgow club was visited. Twenty one ladies each made a single visit to Glasgow Caledonian University where they walked, marched and sidestepped over a force plate set in the floor of the movement laboratory.

The force plate measures the forces produced as each foot strikes the plate and from this, the vertical forces reflected back into the legs and therefore the lower limb bones, can be calculated. The group who took part in the study had an average age of 65 years (ranging from 55 to 82).

Results : On average, the pas de bas step generated forces almost twice body weight through the lower limbs. This was shown to be significantly higher forces than generated during walking, side-stepping or marching. Walking and side-stepping generated similar levels of forces whilst forces recorded during marching were higher.

Implications : From this study, we have shown that the levels of force generated during the pas de bas step are higher than those recorded for walking, side stepping and marching. Therefore, as pas de bas step generated almost twice bodyweight, it would appear to be a good exercise to offset bone loss. It would be sensible to propose Scottish country dance should now be added to the list of recommended activities for women who wish to maintain bone health. In addition, the pas de bas step could be a valuable addition to the physiotherapy led exercise classes.