Millennial lesbian vlogger Arielle Scarcella caused a stir last Friday when she announced that she no longer feels a part of the contemporary LGBTQIAA+ movement, the latest evolution of the gay rights movement that stands for ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Allies and others.’
“I’ve reached peak LGBT,” she stated. “This is my coming out video.”
Scarcella, who vlogs about women, sexuality and culture and has over 600,000 YouTube followers, denounced the ridiculously “woke” rainbow coalition movement as “a safe haven for the mentally unstable”, stating that she has been “more cancelled, tortured, tormented, harassed” by what is supposedly her own community than by any other group.
She is not the first gay, bi or lesbian person to jump ship, though she is probably the most prominent. The LGB Alliance, launched in 2019 by UK activists including one Stonewall founding member, sought to regroup a political movement for gay, lesbian and bisexual political interests away from other sexuality- and gender-related identities that have attached themselves to the rainbow flag.
The growing desertion of the movement formerly known as LGBT by actual lesbian, gay and bisexual people reflects a core issue raised by its current trajectory, namely the political paralysis that results from an attempt to practice inclusivity in the absence of limits.
Forming a group in order to campaign for that group’s political interests necessarily means defining what that group is, which in turn means defining what it is not. That is, political agency requires a degree of self-definition that is necessarily exclusionary. But as other groups are added, willy-nilly, in the interests of inclusivity, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern the nature of their common political interests.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people campaigned for decriminalisation and social acceptance of same-sex romantic and sexual relationships. Their political calls were premised on a pre-existing belief in the intrinsic value of all humans. Given our universal worth and dignity, why should loving, mutual, stable, consenting same sex relationships not be accorded space to flourish within wider society?
But the growing reluctance to impose limits, and willingness to include even heterosexual people (who sneak in under ‘queer’ or ‘ally’) in the rainbow coalition, renders the political programme ever more diffuse. What, from a political point of view, can lesbian women unite in solidarity with asexuals to campaign for, apart from a general feel-good assertion that ‘we are all valid’?
In effect, by abolishing limits on who is included, this is what the LGBTQIAA+ movement necessarily becomes: a political campaign for individual validation. Indeed, Stonewall’s slogan is ‘Acceptance without exception’. But validation has little meaningful substance as a political programme; in effect it takes away political agency. For if ‘validation’ is the core political demand, those pursuing this kind of identity-based programme ultimately hand power to the authority they claim to challenge, granting the state the ability to confer or withhold personhood itself.
So it is unsurprising that the people drawn to a movement dedicated to demanding an all-powerful state grant them the personhood they are no longer sure they possess are perhaps not the most stable individuals. It is also unsurprising that those lesbian, gay and bisexual people who feel they have political interests that still need advocacy might be starting to leave a movement that increasingly prevents them, in the name of inclusivity, from doing so.