This article was published on August 26th, 2020
Defining yourself is an integral component of how we are perceived and how we present ourselves to the world. Members of the queer community have fought for decades just to have a seat at the table and now another debate has come to the forefront in recent years as QIA members seek to be represented in a more dynamic and direct way. HomoCulture breaks down what the letters actually mean, the preferences of those within the community, and the future of representation within the LGBTQ+ landscape.
Tackling the alphabet soup of the community for inclusivity
Over the years, gay people have progressed from LGBT to LGBT+ to LGBTQ to LGBTI to LGBTQIA to LGBTQ+ and other variations. Media markets have used many of these when referring to members under the queer umbrella and there are sometimes issues with some worrying that the use of some of these terms are dismissive of certain members of the community. There is no definitive answer about which term is ‘best’, however, this article will break down the options so people can have an informed decision.
Breaking down the letters that represent the community
The following is a simple guide that breaks down every letter of the community:
L: lesbians are women that are attracted primarily to other women romantically or sexually
G: gay refers to men that are primarily attracted to other men. The term ‘gay woman’ is also commonly used
B: bisexual people are physically or emotionally attracted to both men and women or to people regardless of gender
T: trans and transgender people feel they are not the gender they were assigned at birth
Q: queer stands for everyone under the LGBT+ umbrella and stands for queer or questioning. This is a controversial letter as some prefer it, while others use it with caution. Questioning people are those still exploring their gender identities, gender expression, or sexual orientation
I: intersex people are those born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or chromosome pattern that isn’t firmly male or female
A: A represents both allies and asexuals. Allies are straight and cis-gender people that support the community. Asexuals are people that do not experience sexual attraction to anyone or low levels of sexual attraction
+: the plus has been used in many circles to stand for all other identities after the LGBT initials
Other identities under the queer umbrella include agender and pansexual, and many more that are still being discussed on the ways of inclusion.
The differences between LGBT, LGBT+, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA?
Although all of these are broadly the same, adding more of the letters explicitly includes more identities directly. Similarly, the ‘+’ symbol also is more inclusive without adding more letters after the ‘LGBT’ format. There are still people that feel their identities are omitted no matter which term is used as there are no initials representing pansexual, non-binary, and more. So where is the line for representation?
Why the LGBT moniker continues to grow
Language is a fluid thing that morphs all the time, so it is not surprising that the LGBT abbreviation reflects the change as issues concerning sexuality, gender, and freedom of expression become more mainstream and accepted by the general society. As a cultural and generational topic, in the foreseeable future it can be expected that even more letters are added to the LGBT alphabet moniker. Bear in mind that only 25 years ago, some queer groups were called ‘GayLes’ and ‘LGB’. As the times continue to change, so will the label.
There are pros and cons with using any of the monikers, but the most important aspect to remember is that the community comprises millions of people worldwide and that is a fact that should be in mind when representing members. There is no option that everyone agrees with, and at HomoCulture we currently use a few of them interchangeably. We, like the queer community, are ready to continue the dialogue and stay at the forefront of the unique diversity that lies within.