The letters LGBT refer to a group of individuals that identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. This community includes a diverse group of people from all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, ages, and socioeconomic statuses.
A Little History
LGB was used to replace the term, Gay, in the mid-1980s, but the acronym LGBT became common in the 1990s. However, recently the term has evolved with the preferred acronym to LGBTQ. The added “Q” means Questioning or Queer. The addition of “Q” as a term of questioning includes people that are in the process of exploring their gender or sexual orientation.
Additionally, the term Queer can be used an umbrella term, as the community has accepted this word to represent anything outside of the dominant narrative. Queer is not specific to sexual orientation or gender identity and can be used to refer to the community as a whole. While Queer was used as a derogative term for decades, it was reclaimed by the LGBTQ community in the 1990s with the rise of an organization called Queer Nation. As an activist group out of New York, Queer Nation opposed discrimination of the LGBTQ community and rejected the heteronormative ideals of society.
What does the plus sign mean?
Recently LGBTQ is also used as LGBTQ+. The plus sign, “+” accounts for many additional identifications in the community, including transsexual, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, pansexual, and gender queer. Gender Queer is an umbrella term that can be used for all gender identities not exclusive to masculine or feminine, including gender fluid, agender, bigender, pan gender, gender free, genderless, gender variant, and gender non-conforming. The plus also includes allies or people in support of the LGBTQ community.
While LGBTQ+ or Queer are currently the most common terms, additionally the term, Rainbow Community, may be used. The important takeaway is that the community will continue to evolve, and the terminology will evolve with it.