I recently updated my website and the acronym LGBTIQA+ occurs in a quite a few spots. Not everyone is as familiar with this acronym as I am—and for that matter plenty of wonderful people are more familiar with it than I am! So I wanted to link that acronym to a little explainer that makes it clear what I mean.  

Right up front, though: if you’re uncomfortable with or confused by this acronym, I understand because I have been too! Well, perhaps not confused… because I’m part of this community and have made an effort to understand the way we got here. But often uncomfortable.

No one should feel uncomfortable around this acronym, because it is an effort to include people. Even allies who may not be part of the rainbow family, but support us nonetheless! So here is my attempt to help you know what I’m talking about when I say LGBTIQA+…

Acronyms are inherently problematic

Before we go any further, I want to say that I am an avid avoider of acronyms. Especially in this era, with keyboards everywhere and few reasons to write by hand, there’s very little benefit in abbreviating words. And there’s plenty of disadvantages. As my grandfather always said, “abbreviation is laziness”.

The problem for the rainbow family, though, is that we are made up of people with a very broad range of gender identity and sexual characteristics and there is no one word that really describes all of us. However, in order to lobby for the rights we’ve won, we have worked together. So regardless of our diversity, we have every reason to think of ourselves as one community.

How we got here

Our community didn’t just turn up as it is. In western societies, members of the rainbow family had to hide who they were to stay safe. And as that changed, it was the larger sections of our community who came out first. They set up organisations with gay and lesbian in their title. Then they realised that bisexual people had a place in the community too, so the acronym GLB was born. During the AIDS pandemic, lesbian sisters were so supportive of their gay brothers that we started putting the L first. And then we recognised the need to acknowledge the place of transgender people in our community, so LGBT came along.

Now in most of the world, they pretty much stopped adding to the acronym at that point, and added a plus sign instead. Some add an I for intersex variations, some add a Q for questioning or queer (we can’t agree on which it stands for). In Australia, those additions became the norm, along with an A or three for asexual, aromantic and agender.

The different ways we render the acronym, like the different ways we define its meaning, are a legacy of this process. Most Australian state governments now default to LGBTIQA+, though the sequence of the last three letters changes often. You might see on my site a few different iterations of the acronym. Sometimes its hard to stay consistent and make things work.

Attempts to fix it

There are over forty different variations that could be included in the acronym. We struggle enough with the standard seven we usually use in Australia. And that’s why there’s a plus sign at the end. There are efforts to get around the awkwardness by using other signifiers, such as

  • SOGI (for sexual orientation and gender identity) or
  • GSM (gender and sexuality minority), or
  • QUILTBAG (I’m not even going there!)
  • and a whole bunch of others.

I’ve been a student of linguistics for a long time, and my expectation is that LGBT+ and LGBTIQA+ are too firmly entrenched both within the Anglosphere where they originated, and also in other language groups to be replaced by another acronym.

Acronyms, after all, are for Vogons!

I would love to have a word that describes us. Sometimes, informally, I refer to the rainbow family, as I did a few paragraphs back. But that’s still an imperfect solution.  

Queer is another strong candidate, and one I embrace personally. I love it not just because it is something we have reclaimed from our detractors, but also because its meaning is just so right. I am anything but normal or boring! But elders of our community were taunted with that word, so it is not a perfect candidate either.

Instead, I accept that the imperfect and awkward acronym LGBTIQA+ is the most formal and inclusive way to signify my rainbow family in its entirety.

But what does it stand for?

Ok, you didnt all want a history lesson. Or a linguistics lesson. If you just clicked through to know what LGBTIQA+ stands, thanks for bearing with me as I explained myself—the wait is over! 

L is for lesbian

G is for gay

B is for bisexual

T is for transgender 

I is for intersex

Q is usually said to be for queer, but also occasionally for questioning, and we love them both. 

A is for asexual, aromantic and agender folk. 

And finally + is absolutely as important as all the others, or maybe more. It is for all the people who don’t feel any of these descriptors is entirely right for them or who are pansexual or demisexual or sapiosexual or any one of the myriad other sexual orientation and gender identities that aren’t in the acronym. You all matter.

Further reading

If you’ve come this far and I haven’t bored you to tears, you might want a more comprehensive exploration of this. I cannot recommend any explainer more highly than The Equality Project’s LGBTIQ 101. Enjoy!

How to Select Music for a Funeral, Tip #1


One of the things we often struggle with when planning a funeral is selecting music. We all agonise over it… but there’s every chance the loved one you’re trying to honour has given you some help without even knowing it.

If they’ve been using social media for any period of time, they probably expressed pleasure about a song or two over the years… well that is a gold mine for music selection!

Facebook makes this particularly easy:

  1. Go to their profile
  2. Click on the menu button []
  3. Click on Search Profile
  4. Type song or track or any other term they might have used to post about music they like, and check the results… remembering that the first one to come up might not be the gold you’re after, so keep on scrolling!

Other social media platforms aren’t quite so helpful with this, but you can always bring up their profile on a desktop web browser and then press CTRL + F to bring up your browser’s native search function and do the same searches. They might not be as targeted, but they should still deliver the result you need!

Another approach to searching their profile, is to search for artists you know they liked, so see what specific tracks they enjoyed.

This may not be helpful at all if your loved one wasn’t using social media or if they weren’t very active, so have a look at my other funeral planning tips for more ideas.

Great Dates for Weddings 2022

What are the best wedding dates for 2022, Australia? I have a few suggestions…

Special days

  • New Year’s Day falls on a Saturday, so it will probably be more popular than usual
  • Lunar New Year falls on Tuesday 1 February in 2022 so there won’t be a lot of people clamouring for it
  • Valentine’s Day is a Monday, so not too many people are going to book your spot there either
  • April Fool’s Day falls on a Friday, and I can imagine inviting your friends to an engagement party that turns out to be a wedding ceremony would work very well indeed!
  • Friday the 13th happens in May if you want to tempt fate!
  • Lesbian fiancés can rejoice because International Lesbian Day happens to fall on a Saturday (8 October)!

Dates with many twos

Is 2 the lucky number for wedding dates in 2022? There are twos everywhere this year!

  • February offers 2.2.22 and 22.2.22, which fall on Wednesday and Tuesday respectively
  • Two Saturdays fall on the 22nd of the month, and one is in the most popular month of the year for weddings, so I imagine 22 October 22 is going to be a very popular date, and 22 January 22 won’t be far behind it!
  • Friday 22 April 22 is also a great option, but I’m already booked!
  • 22 May 22 falls on a Sunday
  • 22 July 22 falls on a Friday

Novelty dates with little competition

Avoiding Saturdays for your wedding ceremony can make booking easier and save you some cash. These dates would make your wedding ceremony just a little more special:

  • Wednesday 2 February can be shortened to 2.2.22
  • Tuesday 22 February can become 22.2.22
  • Thursday 10 November sounds good as 10.11.22
  • Armistice Day offers 11.11.22
  • Sunday 11 December has triplets: 11.12.22

Same sex couples can consider all of Pride Month a novelty date with little competition, because June is one of the months when the fewest weddings are held.

For more information on planning your wedding, check out my wedding planning blog posts

Wedding Music Tip #1


One of the things engaged folks often struggle with in planning their ceremony is selecting wedding songs. Everyone agonises over it… but you’ve probably already given yourself a hint without even knowing it!

If you’ve been using social media for any period of time, you’ve probably expressed pleasure about a song or two over the years… well that is a gold mine for wedding music selection!

Why listen to other people’s lists when you already made your own? If you and your fiancé do this together, you may just stumble on a song that means more to you than you realise.

Image showing location of search function in Facebook

Facebook makes this particularly easy:

  1. Go to your profile
  2. Click on the menu button []
  3. Click on Search Profile
  4. Type song or track or any other term you might have used to post about music you like, and check the results… remembering that the first one to come up might not be the gold you’re after, so keep on scrolling!

Other social media platforms aren’t quite so helpful with this, but you can always bring up your profile on a desktop web browser and then press CTRL + F to bring up your browser’s native search function and do the same searches. They might not be as targeted, but they should still deliver the result you need!

Didn’t find the right track? Keep your eyes peeled for my other wedding music tips 😉

Much Ado About Titles

I had one of those awww moments recently, on seeing an article about a bride in the United Kingdom who, facing pandemic restrictions, stood down her bridal party with its ten bridesmaids and had her two nans by her side on the big day. It’s really heartwarming to see these choices, and the way people are dealing with changes to how we celebrate.

Of course, being a bit of a pedant (it’s a curse no witch has yet been able to lift!), as well as loving the story I also had to hold back from shouting at the screen, “they’re not bridesmaids, they’re bridesmatrons”, because of course, assuming they have a biological connection to the bride, they’re almost certainly not virgins!

It is not at all uncommon for brides-to-be to find themselves being corrected on the proper title of the Maid of Honour—usually by a cranky old aunt—when the friend she has chosen happens to be married. The cranky old aunt is usually somewhat misled though. Sometime in the twentieth century, as the word maid fell into disuse, we started thinking that maid meant a woman who was unmarried, when in reality a maid is a virgin (remember how much drama Shakespeare created around Hero being a maid in Much Ado About Nothing?).

But do you really want to give your attendants a title that reflects that particular status?

The complexity of ceremonial terminology in weddings is something I’ve looked into before, in my post on the use of fiancé and fiancée. I have never heard of a bridesmaid being called a bridesmatron just because she happens to be married, which is, itself, an odd anomaly reflective of our changing values. It is also becoming more and more common for attendants to be mixed gender, and let’s not overcomplicate how to respectfully refer to a trans or nonbinary person in a wedding party! Instead, here are a few ideas I have encountered, which can give you some ideas for stalling cranky old aunts before they get started…

Bride and Groom

Possibly the least likely to warrant a change, these are the only two titles that have any legal weight. And yet, there is one further option under Australian law: partner. To honour and accurately document trans and nonbinary folk, the Attorney-General’s Department has amended forms to allow the word partner to be used instead of bride or groom.

There remains a restriction that if the male box has been ticked on the Notice of Intended Marriage, they can only be labelled either partner or groom on that and subsequent documents; and if the female box is ticked they can only be partner or bride.


Fast becoming anachronistic in a lot of contexts, the terms Best Man and Maid of Honour could be entirely gone by the 22nd century. The principle source of consternation is that the Maid of Honour title changes depending on the bearer’s status, for entirely archaic reasons. You can, of course, use Matron of Honour if your bestie is not a virgin, but many are now simply using Maid of Honour regardless of their status, and this is a subtle progress.

It is becoming more common for there to be no special status, and for all the bride’s attendants to be called Bridesmaids, or Bridespersons if there’s a male amongst them. Bridesboys is also entirely appropriate in that situation.

Similarly, a groom’s attendants may all be called groomsmen, with no best anything amongst them; but they may be called Groomspersons or Groomsgirls. Gay grooms may go a little farther and call their attendants Groomsgurls, Groomsqueens, or if your attendants are your girlfriends, Groomshags. Just chat with your attendants if you’re thinking of using one of the more socially progressive titles, because some might not appreciate it!

My favourite solution to this dilemma, though, and the one my husband and I chose to use (we were both grooms with mixed gender attendants), is simply to replace the gendered word with the individual’s name. So, if your closest attendant taking on the traditional role of the Maid of Honour happens to be called Fred, they take the title The Fred of Honour. Or if the person taking on the traditional role of the Best Man happens to be called Georgina, they take the title The Best Georgina. These titles work just as well for trans and nonbinary folk as they do for cisgendered folk (as long as you’re not using a deadname), so they are completely universal, as well as being quirky and fun.


There is no end to the coos of approval mothers and aunts provide at the sight of a child carrying rings. Page Boy, thankfully, has gone the way of the dodo, mostly replaced by Ringbearer, which has no negative implications. Flower Girls remain popular, although they’re facing stiff competition from more amusing adult male Flower Men frolicking ahead of the bride throwing rose petals and shade over the guests. The appropriateness of that may depend upon the makeup of the community gathering for your nuptuals.

My husband and I chose to follow an Autumn Princess down the aisle, who laid a carpet of autumn leaves for us.

Mother/Father of the Groom/Bride

Having opened up the wormcan for everyone else, it would be remiss of me to neglect the couple’s parents. Since Mother of the Bride as a title carries so much clout, there must be some allowance: even a hetero bride could have a biological mother and an adoptive mother or a step mother, or all three! A lesbian wedding where both have lesbian parents could end up yielding any number of mothers of the bride, and that’s before we even consider how many daddies a gay groom might have, or why!

One option for distinguishing different maternal figures is to borrow the pattern of the attendants: Matriarch of Honour or Patriarch of Honour could be used if the parent does not have a living parent themself; you probably don’t want to use Best Dad in such a situation though!

Mother of the Bride is so important a role in many communities, that it is likely they won’t be happy with anything else. But at the same time, there is no reason the title cannot be shared no matter how many brides there are, or how many mothers they have. The most important aspect of keeping these relationships healthy for what can be a stressful day is communicating expectations beforehand.

Similarly, if a bride has two gay dads, that coveted mother of the bride role most likely falls to both of them. They might prefer a playful title like the Queens of the Bride, or perhaps, as often happens with same sex parents, they have differing titles already, leading to an arrangement such as the Pa of the Bride and Dad of the Bride (or for maternal parents Mumma of the Bride and Mum of the Bride). Another solution, to avoid confusion, would be to apply the first name principle as can be done with the attendants: if your dads are known in the community as Harry and Geoff, there is no reason they cannot be titled the Harry of the Bride and the Geoff of the Bride.

Master of Ceremonies

Many people organise an MC for their reception without even knowing what the acronym stands for! Master of Ceremonies is where it came from, but it seems to have been reduced to Emcee in a lot of cases. If we had required one, they would almost certainly have been called the Master of the Revels or the Mistress of the Revels, which is a lot more fun!


One of the most important things to remember is that it is your day: it is not the day of your dead ancestors, it is not the day of Queen Victoria’s fairytale wedding, and it certainly isn’t the day of your cranky old aunt who doesn’t even know the difference between burning a bra and burning a book.

Playful twists on tradition do two things: they provide an opportunity to reference the important relational aspects of wedding ceremonies; and they acknowledge that your current reality is more important than the traditions of the past.

Feature image by Devon Divine on Unsplash


Of all the wedding traditions that have fallen by the wayside, I think handfasting is the one with the most potential. Then again, it wouldn’t have that potential if it had not fallen away in the first place.

Handfasting is a Scottish practice that was intended more as an act of betrothal than of binding. A couple could perform it without any witnesses in any situation in which they could not reasonably get to a minister to marry them. They still needed to be married by a minister or a ship’s captain or a mayor at a later date, but could be considered married for most legal purposes in the meantime once the handfasting had been performed.

It has been revived in modern Scottish weddings outside Scotland, but as part of the ceremony itself. And because it has no legal significance, it can be used in very creative ways.

I have written a handfasting ceremony for our wedding, which was to happen last May, but will go ahead this May, as long as we keep the ’rona at bay! In our ceremony, it is a way of having the attendants bless the marriage. My children will each ask for our commitment to each other, and if they are satisfied with our answer, they will pass the ribbon over our arms. Then my partner’s attendants will each affirm our vows by passing the ribbon over the other way.

This is, by no means a conventional handfasting, but it’s an example of how readily old traditions can be adapted for meaning in a modern ceremony. Adapting old customs is one of my favourite aspects of celebrancy, especially for LGBTIQA+ couples.

I am always open to hearing ideas like this from couples, and hope that I will be as supportive as our celebrant has been!

Walk Me Down The Aisle

For many, walking down the aisle is a rite of passage, but in a modern context, it is fraught with paradoxes.

Continue reading “Walk Me Down The Aisle”

The Processional

When it comes to wedding pomp, few traditions stack up to the grandeur of the processional. When I was a lad, I was taught pretty quickly that when those first few notes from Wagner’s Bridal Chorus rang out, my role was to stand up to honour the bride. I never even heard of the opera it was written for, Lohengrin, until I was heading to Munich to sing with my choir, and decided to learn some of Bavaria’s history.

Continue reading “The Processional”

Readings for Memorials

You don’t have to lead many funerals before you recognise just how powerful a reading can be. It can put words to an emotion that is otherwise hard to quantify, it can give mourners the space to laugh or to cry, and it can bring a community together.

Anything could become a reading: a poem, a line from a play, a sacred text, a political speech or—perhaps the most meaningful possible source—something written by the person you’re farewelling.

The world wide web boasts many many pages dedicated to readings for funerals, and my contribution is hardly mind-blowing, but here are four of my favourite readings.

I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one;
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done;
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways
of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve to dry under the sun;
And leave a little salty stain on cheeks out having fun.

When Great Trees Fall
Maya Angelou
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses, and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes 
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and 
our reality, bound to 
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their 
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their 
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of 
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
William Shakespeare (Cymbeline IV,ii)
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
   Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
   Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
   Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
   To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
   Nor they all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
   Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renownéd be thy grave!
John Kinsella
The grave is a gate you send flowers through,
and the pink blossom frosting the northern hemisphere
is, on closer observation, a confluence of species.
There is a scent that’s as much about lingering
as leaving, and it’s about time the ploughs
were moving down there. The geographical
centre fluctuates while the magnetic centre
remains rock solid. Prayer goes somewhere
and is not lost and expects nothing back.
an old tree—a York gum—oozes sap
like it’s something special in this genealogy.
Most of the family is there and words are said
and those who can’t attend wait for news of the dead
as now it is all about memory.

Click here for more posts on funeral planning

Feature image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

3 Years On: almost equal is still unequal

Feature photo by Valerie Elash on Unsplash.

Marriage equality was a great achievement in Australia, but is marriage really equally accessible to all Australians now? Polyamorous marriage is still not something available to those who do not subscribe to the prevailing hegemony of monogamy.

Continue reading “3 Years On: almost equal is still unequal”
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