What a site. It landed on the genealogy scene in 1995 when Salt Lake City resident Jim Timpton built a genealogical database with his hobby of visiting celebrity gravestones. Since then, it has grown into a global database for many of the millions of dead from around the world.
Members and non-members alike can sift through the multitudes of data and find information on their ancestors and view their finals resting places. Due to the interest in genealogy, per the increase in awareness of family history through companies like Ancestry and 23 & Me, more and more people are getting interested in their past and finding their ancestors.
I’ve always loved Find a Grave, I’ve used it since my earliest days in researching my family as a teen, and have appreciated the community base of genealogists who dedicate their time to photographing not just their families, but thousands of others as well.
But there is one thing that has always bothered me about the site, it’s acronymic name that genealogists commonly use, FAG.
It may not be quickly apparent to some, but the word fag is one of a turbulent history in the LGBTQIA community. It has been used to harass, threaten, abuse and in many cases murder.
In the past few years, genealogy and the research into one’s family history have blossomed significantly with companies like Ancestry, 23 and Ancestry putting out genetic genealogy test commercials for the general public to see. With this, we as a community have introduced a great variety of people to our much loved and passionate field.
As we continue to evolve and change into an inclusive community of genealogists and death positive folks that range to your Great-Aunt Mary and your Harley-riding younger brother Zac — we all love this field.
Note: As of today, I received a comment on my blog that said the following
“There is a new RAOGK -Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness that was started and we will not tolerate the use of that acronym. We have a photo of the National archives building The old Please if you could make that distinction in the post, so the new group doesn’t get lambasted. “
The problem is, there are some that are refusing to acknowledge this issue. Earlier this week, noted genetic genealogist Blaine Bettinger asked the Facebook genealogy group RAOGK (Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness) to stop using the term as shorthand. This one post has garnered over 247 comments and 8 shares.
I even posted something in the group this morning and it was swiftly deleted and within minutes of it being deleted, a member of the group ‘reached out’ (I use this word with several grains of salt) to me with the following:
This individual then proceeded to tell me that gay people aren’t offended by this acronym (hey, so, I’m gay, and I am) and that “It’s not being used in a derogatory way so I just don’t understand why it’s such an issue,” followed by “I think you’re a wee too sensitive.”
I’m just going to put it out there — that is privilege speaking. The term fag is a loaded term that comes with decades of violence, ignorance, and harassment. But, if I have to drag y’all kicking and screaming into the future — I will. This needs to change now.
Since we love so much, don’t you think we should take care of it? Include all the members of the community, no matter how different we are? So here is my proposal, let’s call it Find a Memorial (FAM). Why FAM?
- #1: It is not an offensive acronym or term and solves that problem hands down
- #2: It incorporates family (FAM) into the term, which what this is all about
- #3: Memorial is a much more applicable term as by definition, the graveyard has been used specifically for those graveyards near churches or as the definition of it says: “a burial ground, especially one beside a church.”Using the word memorial will incorporate not only graveyards and cemeteries but can also incorporate more non-traditional memorials such as cremations, at sea burials, etc.
- The acronym represents our field in a much more appropriate way
- The new acronym and name represents all types of departures from this earth, not just graves (cremations, scattered ashes, etc.)
- Find a Grave has always been a community-centered database and we all contribute from all the corners of the world. People of every gender, color, background, religion, sexuality, and type. Why not keep everyone together on this journey with a more inclusive name.
Names of Signatories
- Becky K., 34 – Bellingham, Washington, USA
- Stephany B. – Georgia, USA
- Chris F. – New Hampshire, USA
- Kirsten Beyer – Illinois, USA
- Hazel Scullin – Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
- Elizabeth Ludwig – Utah, USA
- Miranda Carter – Utah, USA
- Megan Fincher – California, USA
- Mary Rohrer Dexter
- Linda Dupuy
- Laura Napl
- Tawna L. – Meridian, Idaho, USA
- Betty Dees, 62 – Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA
- Kelly Bembry – Midura, Virginia, USA
- Casey F. – Long Beach, California, USA
- Diane B.
- Linda Fradelis – Chesapeake, Virginia, USA
- Carolynn ni Lochlainn
- Jenifer Kahn – Bakkala, Massachusetts
- Jan Pennington – England
- Leslie Rieger – Montana
- Brenda Leyndyke – Battle Creek, Michigan, USA
- Anna C. Matthews – Rockville Centre, New York, USA
- Arlene F. – Michigan, USA
- Sue J.
- Erica Millar – Ontario, Canada
- Geoff Mulholland
- Robin G.
- Raymond R Hawkins
- Rich M., 62, – Medford, Oregon, USA
- Charlotte N. – Utah, USA
- Leah M. – Washington, USA
- Dena R. – Visalia, California, USA
- Jordan MacVay – Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
- Victoria Kolakowski – Oakland, California, USA
- Rebecca Campbell – Dallas, Texas
- Miriam Robbins – Spokane, Washington, USA (Note left: User of FindAGrave for 18.5 yrs.)
- Millicent Parsons – Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
- Holly B. — Carnation, Washington, USA
- Susan S.
- Teresa Eckford – Sunshine Coast, Canada
- Zoe Krainik – USA
- Sarah Potter – Naperville, Illinois, USA
- Kat Kellermeyer – Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
- Joey De Luna – Bellingham, Washington, USA
- Cindy Badger – Osan Air Base, S. Korea
- Kolby LaBree – Bellingham, Washington, USA
- Trish Riederer – California, USA
- Heidi Pomerleau – Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
- Valorie Cowan Zimmerman
- Audra Searcy – Latrobe, Pennsylvania, USA
- Emily Schroeder – Solon, Ohio, USA
- Brooke W., 49 – Sydney, NSW, Australia
- Chelsy Parrish, 28 – Mesa, Arizona, USA
- Kassidy Price, 24 – St. George, Utah, USA
- Diane Willey – Ontario, Canada
- Andrea Weigel – Templeton, California, USA