What Exactly Does “LGBTQ+” Mean?

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or occasionally questioning), and others are collectively referred to as LGBTQ+. The “+” stands for other sexual orientations, such as pansexuality and two-spirit. Since the 1990s, the acronym’s first four letters have been utilized. Still, in recent years, there has been greater recognition of the necessity to include other sexual identities in order to provide better representation.

The term refers to someone who is transgender and/or attracted to others of the same or similar gender, and it is used to represent a broad spectrum of sexualities and gender identities.

The Meaning of Each Letter

  • L (Lesbian): A person who is attracted to only other people of the same or similar gender is referred to as a lesbian.
  • G (Gay): The term “gay” is typically used to describe guys or persons who identify as men who are only attracted to other people of the same or similar gender. Gay is another term that can be used to describe lesbians. During the 1970s, the term “gay” gained in popularity. Today, while discussing their shared gender desire, bisexual and pansexual people will occasionally casually refer to themselves as gay.
  • B (Bisexual): Bisexuality is characterized by a preference for both genders. It is crucial to acknowledge bisexual persons since there have been times when those who identify as bi have been mistaken for gay people. Since the “Bisexual Manifesto” was published in 1990, transgender, binary, and nonbinary people have all been considered bisexual.
  • T (Transgender): The term “transgender” refers to a person whose gender identity differs from the gender that corresponds to the sex they were given at birth.
  • Q (Queer or Questioning): Although some people use the term to refer to a particular identity, it is frequently used to refer to anyone who is not cisgender or heterosexual. But it’s also offensive. It shouldn’t be applied to all community members, and cisgender and heterosexual people should only use it to refer to people who consciously identify with the group. People who are in doubt about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity are said to be questioning.

All gender identities and sexual orientations not specifically addressed by the other five initials are represented by the symbol “plus.” A prime example is the pan-Indigenous American identity known as Two-Spirit.

lgbtq full form

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The Lgbtq+ Acronym’s History

The term eventually developed as an attempt to be more inclusive of different identities, where a number of orientations and identities had previously been referred to as “the homosexual community” and then “the gay and lesbian community.”

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The acronym has evolved over time; why? Words and their meanings are constantly changing, so keep that in mind. Sigmund Freud’s original definition of bisexuality stated that a person might be both a man and a woman. Bisexuality is the attraction to multiple/all genders. Being both a man and a woman is now referred to as bigender (within the transgender umbrella).

Why the “plus” Is Important

Although versions like LGBT or LGBTQ are frequently used, many supporters contend that the “plus” component is significant and should not be disregarded. The abbreviation serves to symbolize the enormous range of people who are transgender and same- or similar-gender attracted. The plus sign makes it easier to properly express such diversity.

According to GLAAD, or the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, “coverage of LGBTQ issues has moved beyond simplistic political dichotomies and toward more fully realized representations, not only of the diversity of the LGBTQ community, but also of LGBTQ people’s lives, their families, and their fundamental inclusion in the fabric of American society.”

Additional Terms to Know

Other terms used to refer to the LGBTQ+ group that you might see or hear include:

Asexual: Sometimes abbreviated as “ace,” this phrase describes a person who lacks strong sexual attraction yet may still be attracted to someone romantically.

Cisgender: Individuals who identify as the gender connected with the sex they were assigned at birth are referred to as cisgender.

Intersex: A term used to describe people who are born with sex traits that do not correspond to binary notions of male or female bodies.

A nonbinary individual is one whose gender identity is not purely male or female.

Gender nonconforming: A person whose gender identity or expression deviates from or goes beyond the conventional gender roles of man/woman and masculine/feminine.

The internal feeling of a person’s gender, whether it be a woman, man, or nonbinary gender, is their gender identity. The gender that a person identifies with does not always match the sex assigned to them at birth or the gender they express.

Read More: A Brief History of the LGBTQ Acronym

The Importance of Lgbtq+ Representation

The term LGBTQ+ fulfills a crucial function because it not only aims to be more inclusive but also symbolizes the identities of those who identify as transgender or attracted to persons of the same gender.


The acronym is meant to serve as a universal signifier of various gender identities and sexual orientations. The LGBT acronym’s expansion to include additional identities is crucial for identifying them and tying them into a bigger group.

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Additionally, it implies that these people are able to receive more respect from society at large. Recognizing minority identities can encourage increased exposure rather than its erasure, rejection, or denial.


A person’s sense of identity self-affirmation can be enhanced by visibility. According to research, providing LGBTQ+ adolescents with inclusive and affirming surroundings is crucial.

According to research, being out and proud of one’s identity can be facilitated by being visible as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, despite safety concerns.

Affirming one’s identity can improve one’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem as well as their general mental health. Given the long-standing absence of coverage in the mainstream media, this can be especially significant.

The good news is that this has changed recently thanks to advancements made in recent years. According to recent GLAAD research, television shows are now more likely than ever to feature LGBTQ characters and relationships.

In addition, non-binary identities are now more visible and diverse, however, the survey also cautions that BIPOC characters are still underrepresented.

According to research and data, LGBTQ+ kids are more likely to experience a variety of mental health and social problems, which are frequently brought on by or made worse by isolation, marginalization, and discrimination based on their orientation or identity.

Increasing inclusion and acceptance could be a strategy for addressing some of these problems.

lgbtq full form

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Uses for The Acronym Lgbtq+

LGBTQ+ has grown in acceptance and popularity. Some members of the community are uncomfortable with the use of terms like “queer,” which is still a slur.

Why Use It?

How Do You Determine When To Use the Phrase Lgbtq+?

The phrase is meant to be inclusive of all same-gender attracted individuals as well as trans people. If you are discussing problems that might be unique to a certain orientation or identity, use a specific term.

When discussing persons, be specific. Additionally, the term “LGBT+” refers to the entire group rather than a specific individual. For instance, you would say “Ali is gay” rather than “Ali is LGBTQ+.”

LGBTQ+ can be useful if you’re aiming for inclusivity, although LGBT alone is the most frequently used and possibly most well-known. There are other more inclusive varieties, including LGBTQI2S. (which represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, and Two-Spirit).

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If intersex persons consider themselves to be a group, there is no universal agreement on this; some do and some do not. Some believe it is disrespectful to attach the word “Two-Spirit” to the acronym because it was invented by Indigenous people to distinguish themselves from Western conceptions of gender and sexual identities.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has a reference page that provides useful information on LGBTQ words as well as information on terms that are special to the transgender community if you’re interested in learning more about what terms and phrases should be avoided.

Effects of The Abbreviation Lgbtq+

LGBT and associated acronyms are now frequently used. Additionally, it has contributed to increasing the visibility of stigmatized populations, such as transgender people.

According to research, despite a shift in attitudes toward greater acceptance, homophobia, and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people are still widespread. Workplace bullying, harassment, and discrimination are all rather prevalent.

The ability to advocate for causes politically is one benefit of using a single terminology. Social solidarity can be utilized to increase awareness, fight injustice, and support causes like equality and anti-discrimination laws.

Using unifying terminology like LGBTQ+ might encourage a sense of community among a greater range of people who have similar experiences. However, the phrase occasionally gives the impression that a single, homogenous group exists when in fact there are numerous smaller communities made up of a variety of people.

These communities share some characteristics, yet each identity has its own particular needs and experiences.


Even if increasing exposure and inclusivity are the objectives of this initialism, there is disagreement among users as to what name or version should be used. Over the years, the town has been referred to by a variety of names, some of which have been unpleasant.

Therefore, it is not surprising that different people employ different self-descriptors, especially when discussing topics like sexuality, identity, and self-expression.

LGBT is still widely used, and some people may prefer it because they believe the four-letter abbreviation to be a more straightforward way to convey a variety of identities.

The inclusion of Q and “Plus” can be useful because certain people can feel excluded from the conventional four initials.

This does not imply that terminology won’t change and develop further, especially if efforts are made to increase the visibility and acceptance of transgender persons in particular.

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