LGBTQIA+ Meaning of Each Letter & Acronym Breakdown | SFGMC (2024)

Struggling to understand the LGBTQIA+ meaning of the acronym? You’re not alone.

For many people who are new to the LGBTQIA+ community, this acronym can seem confusing or overwhelming.

If you are new, welcome! We’re so glad you’re here with us today.

And if you aren’t new to the community, but are curious to learn more about how the community has changed over the years, we’re delighted you’ve joined us today, too.

The way the LGBTQIA+ community interacts – both with each other and with the world around us – is constantly changing. We strive to include everyone and to make everyone feel seen and understood.

What Does LGBTQIA+ Mean?

For many years, the umbrella term “gay” was used to describe the community.

Now, many people worry about how to come out, but coming out before the 1970s wasn’t even an option, as many states illegalized what they called “hom*osexuality” or “sodomy.” There was also no acronym at all, restricting the inclusivity of our community.

Once an acronym appeared, all versions of it began with “L” – for an important reason.

In the early days of the gay rights movement, the lesbian community often felt dismissed or rejected. This led to strong division within the community, with lesbians feeling like “second class” in the gay rights movement.

During the AIDS crisis in the 80s and 90s, thousands of gay men were disowned by their families after contracting AIDS. The lesbian community came together to care for men with this illness as members of their community.

As a gesture of gratitude for their support, the acronym was set in stone as “LGB”.

But we had a ways to go before getting to LGBTQIA+. The LGBTQIA+ meaning is being as inclusive as possible. The “T” was added to include our transgender brothers and sisters in the early 2000s, and “LGBT” was the standard for many years after that.

The “Q” was officially added in 2016, though many people had been using it for years prior.

What Are The New Letters in LGBTQ+?

The new letters in the LGBTQ+ acronym have been added to expand the inclusivity of our community further. No term will be perfectly inclusive, but our community wants to give everyone a voice.

As we learn more about gender and sexual expression, the LGBTQIA+ meaning and acronym will change and evolve, too. The acronym isn’t typically standardized, so some communities may add additional gender or sexual identities, especially if they’re representing a community center or non-profit dedicated to those communities.

What Do The Letters in LGBTQIA+ Stand For?

The “LGBTQIA+” meaning of the letters represents different facets of our community. Each one stands for a gender or sexual identity, with the “+” at the end standing in for the many gender identities that aren’t included in this version of the acronym.

Understanding the differences between these communities, like recognizing pride flags, might feel confusing at first. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure which community you identify with most closely–or if you aren’t sure about the differences between them YET.

When it comes to how to be an ally, know that good faith questions and exploration of the differences within LGBTQIA+ – meaning you genuinely want to learn and understand – are always welcome!

L: Lesbian

Lesbians are women who are attracted to other women. Some lesbians do prefer being called “gay,” since “gay” can be an umbrella term for anyone attracted to the same sex. The lesbian community has always been at the forefront of LGBTQIA+ rights.

And they even helped spearhead feminist movements in the 1970s.

Lesbian is one of the oldest terms in the acronym LGBTQIA+, meaning this term predates the 20th century.

It originates from an ancient Greek writer Sappho of Lesbos, a woman who wrote passionately about the beauty of women and her attraction to them. The term “lesbian” first appeared in the 1800s to describe a woman who loved women, just as Sappho did.

G: Gay

Gay can be used as an umbrella term to refer to anyone who is attracted to a person of the same gender.

Most frequently, though, “gay” refers to men who are attracted to other men. The gay community first embraced this term in the late 1960s. Before this, “gay” was a slur used to harm and degrade men in this community.

The community embraced the word “gay” over words like “hom*ophile” and “hom*osexual”, because it was a word that didn’t refer explicitly to sexual activity. The gay community has always been about love, so we chose a word that could hold all the love, not just sexual attraction.

B: Bisexual

Bisexual people are attracted to both men and women.

Bisexual people were one of the earliest additions to the acronym we use today. The LGBTQIA+ meaning has grown, but we continue to honor the history of those who came before us, including the bisexual people who marched at the first gay rights marches.

Bisexuality can sometimes be misjudged as a “pit stop” on the way to being gay, but it isn’t. While sexual identities can and do change over time, bisexuality is its own identity, not just a path to coming out as gay. Bisexual people sometimes have sexual histories that include both genders, sometimes just one, and sometimes neither.

No matter what it looks like for you, your bisexuality is valid!

T: Transgender

The term “transgender” was first coined in the 1960s, and refers to anyone whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. This can include transwomen (women who were assigned male at birth), transmen (men who were assigned female at birth), and nonbinary people (who may have been assigned male or female at birth).

The word “transgender” was advocated for by activists like Virginia Prince. They argued for it to replace “transexual,” since sex and gender are different concepts.

Transgender people can make a number of gender-affirming choices. This might include the way you dress, getting prescribed hormone therapy, and/or gender-affirming surgeries. Many trans people also change their gender pronouns to align with their identity.

Just like with bisexuality, being gay, and being a lesbian, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to be trans. You are just as valid as anyone else, no matter how you choose to express your identity as a trans person.

Q: Queer/Questioning

The “Q” in LGBTQIA+ meaning can change, depending on who’s speaking and when you see this term appear.

Now, the “Q” most commonly refers to “Queer,” another reclaimed word. Similarly to “gay”, “queer” is an umbrella term that can refer to just about anyone in the community.

Many people prefer the term “queer” because it feels all-encompassing. Being queer isn’t about your gender or sexual identity, it’s about both. Queerness is sometimes seen in political movements because it’s about operating outside the norms.

“Q” can also refer to “questioning” – this means someone who is still exploring their gender or sexual identity. You are part of the community, even if you aren’t sure what to define yourself as just yet.

I: Intersex

Intersex individuals are born with both male and female chromosomes and/or sex characteristics. Intersex individuals are not trans, but their identities are often erased and shamed – much like other members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Not all intersex people identify with LGBTQIA+, meaning they may not feel that this community addresses their needs or feelings.

A: Asexual

Asexual – sometimes shortened to “ace” – people don’t feel sexual attraction at all.

Asexual people can still feel romantic attraction, which means they might date, have long-term partners, or even get married. They also might choose to engage in a variety of sexual activities, or only have sex under certain circ*mstances.

Asexuality is on a spectrum, like all gender or sexual identities within the umbrella of LGBTQIA+. Meaning, again, that there’s no “right way” to be ace. Asexuality is about your relationship to sex and sexuality, and it can be fluid or static, just like any other gender or sexual experience

+ Plus

Last, there’s a plus sign at the end of the LGBTQIA+ acronym, meaning anyone who is not listed in the acronym but still identifies as part of the community. These can include:

There are many more gender and sexual identities in the LGBTQIA+ community, since our understanding of ourselves and others is always changing and evolving.

Ready to Share the Pride and Be an Ally?

Being an ally isn’t about knowing all the LGBTQIA+ meanings, acronyms, important dates, and definitions. It’s about listening to and understanding the people in your life and standing up for them. Being an ally means allowing the people in your life to be fully themselves, without fear of judgment, harassment, or danger.

And there’s no way to know someone’s gender or sexual identity by just looking at them, so ask!

You can use gender-neutral pronouns until you know for sure what they’re comfortable with. You can also share your pride or allyship by wearing pride flag pins, stickers, or patches to let everyone know you’re a safe, welcoming space for the LGBTQIA+ community.

And remember that gender and sexual identity don’t exist in a vacuum.

If you want to show added support and raise awareness for the LGBTQIA+ community, you can actively participate in special days like the International Transgender Day of Visibility, Harvey Milk Day, IDAHOBIT, Gay Pride Month, and many other days set aside to spread love and awareness.

Get involved in creating safety and freedom for your community by volunteering for governmental movements or donating to gay rights activism organizations that are run by members of the community.

LGBTQIA+ Meaning of Each Letter & Acronym Breakdown | SFGMC (2024)


LGBTQIA+ Meaning of Each Letter & Acronym Breakdown | SFGMC? ›

LGBTQIA+: Abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual. The additional “+” stands for all of the other identities not encompassed in the short acronym. An umbrella term that is often used to refer to the community as a whole.

What does each letter mean in LGBTQIA+? ›

The acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and the + holds space for the expanding and new understanding of different parts of the very diverse gender and sexual identities.

What does each letter in lgbtqqip2saa mean? ›

LGBTQIA2S refers to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Two spirit. Here are some definitions of sexual orientations and gender identities: Asexual: Asexual folks are not sexually attracted to people of any gender.

What is the order of the LGBT acronym? ›

From about 1988, activists began to use the initialism LGBT in the United States. Not until the 1990s within the movement did gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people gain equal respect.

What does 2slgbtq+ stand for? ›

This acronym represents Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and additional people who identify as part of sexual and gender diverse communities.

What do the letters in LGBTQIA2S+ mean? ›

The GSCC primarily uses the acronym “LGBTQIA2S+.” This acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and trans, queer and questioning, intersex, asexual or agender, and two-spirit. This plus-sign signifies additional identity terms.

What does intersex mean in Lgbtqia+? ›

Nearly one in every 2,000 people is born with variations in reproductive or sexual anatomy, or has a chromosome pattern that doesn't fit with what is typically considered male or female. Such individuals are “intersex” — the “I” in LGBTI — and can identify as male, female or neither.

What does LBGTQ stand for? ›

LGBTQ is an acronym that stands for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (or "questioning"). It's for people who aren't heterosexual. It's also for people who don't identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. Let's go through each letter to learn about those in the LGBTQ community.

What is cisgender in simple words? ›

The word cisgender (often shortened to cis; sometimes cissexual) describes a person whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth, i.e., someone who is not transgender.

What is intersex and asexual? ›

INTERSEX: An umbrella term that describes people born with any of 30 different variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. ASEXUAL (“ACE”): A person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior.

What does the term "two spirits" mean? ›

“Two-spirit” refers to a person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit, and is used by some Indigenous people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity.

Why is L before G? ›

It is a marker of the ability to attend not only to injustices inflicted upon the community, but also to bring people together. So, the "L" before the "G" is more than just a phrase. It is a signal of respect, of solidarity, and of hope for a shared future of equality, justice, and love.

What is 2S? ›

2S – Two-Spirit (or 2 Spirit or 2S): an important term within some Indigenous cultures and for some Indigenous people, meaning a person with both a feminine and a masculine spirit living in the same body.

What is TGNC identity? ›

Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People. American Psychological Association. Transgender and gender nonconforming1 (TGNC) people are those who have a gender identity that is not fully aligned with their sex assigned at birth.

What is the full form of Lgtbq? ›

An acronym used to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning persons or the community.

What does q2 mean in LGBTQ2? ›

A person whose gender identity is different from the sex placed on their birth certificate. “Q” stands for Queer. Queer is an umbrella term often time used to categorize the entirety of the LGBTQ2+ community. Next, we have the “2”. It's for Two-Spirits.

What does the A+ stand for in LGBTQIA+? ›

What does IA stand for in LGBTQIA+? ›

LGBTQIA+: Abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual. The additional “+” stands for all of the other identities not encompassed in the short acronym.

What does the 2 stand for in LGBTQIA+? ›

2SLGBTQ+ stands for: 2S – Two-Spirit (or 2 Spirit or 2S): an important term within some Indigenous cultures and for some Indigenous people, meaning a person with both a feminine and a masculine spirit living in the same body.

What is plus in LGBTQIA? ›

LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or sometimes questioning), intersex, asexual, and others. The "plus" represents other sexual identities, including pansexual and Two-Spirit.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Last Updated:

Views: 5517

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Birthday: 1992-02-16

Address: Suite 851 78549 Lubowitz Well, Wardside, TX 98080-8615

Phone: +67618977178100

Job: Manufacturing Director

Hobby: Running, Mountaineering, Inline skating, Writing, Baton twirling, Computer programming, Stone skipping

Introduction: My name is Wyatt Volkman LLD, I am a handsome, rich, comfortable, lively, zealous, graceful, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.