What Does LGBTQ Stand For? Learn The Acronym

What does LGBTQ stand for? Well, the most current term (without abbreviation) is LGBTQIA+.

To some, the ever-growing length of this acronym might be a source of frustration – not knowing what is what or how to keep up with the terminology. But to others, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s the sophistication of language and how it always changes. It’s also a strong representation of people’s changing mindsets and continuous education or exploration.

Let’s take a look at what each letter means – sort of a LGBT 101 – so you can stay up to date and part of a very important, international conversation.



For any woman who is romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally attracted to other female-identifying people. Years ago, women were lumped into the “gay” category with men. It wasn’t until the 1960s and ’70s feminist movement did the term Lesbian (from the Greek island Lesbos) become its own defined category.

However, before we go any further, it’s important to note that not all lesbians might identify with this definition. The same goes for all the examples below. If nothing else, the LGBT acronyms teaches people that there are as many beautiful variants of existence as there are stars in the sky.


It wasn’t until the ’40s and ’50s did this word mean homosexual. Before, it just meant “happy.” Also, people didn’t like the term homosexual because it sounded far too medical and detached. So, after many years, the term Gay became known as a man who is romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally attracted to other male-identifying people.

Still, some people use the term Gay as an umbrella term for LGBTQ+ – whether this is positive or negative depends entirely on the person.


When someone is attracted to people of their own gender and other genders. Some people might say it’s an attraction to males and females, but others find that definition far too binary.

Either way, Bisexual fights against its own damaging stereotypes. Two of the biggest battles include “Being bi is a waystation to being gay” or “Being bi is just an excuse to be promiscuous” – these are obviously incorrect.  


This one is a catch-all term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what was assigned at birth. John F. Oliven of Columbia University was the one that coined the term and had the medical community use it instead of transsexual.

Someone doesn’t have to have surgery to be counted as trans. Post or pre-op is irrelevant to the legitimacy of someone’s identity. Also, there is a lot of confusion around drag queens. Some might be trans. Some might not be. These are separate things.


Queer was once used as a derogatory slang word against anyone in the LGBT community (of course, back then it was only known as gay). Some people still don’t like to use it because of past damage the word has had. However, others are trying to reclaim it as part of the pride acronym – with the meaning that queer is anything that’s not straight or monogamous.

Then there is Questioning. People who are not heterosexual, and are still exploring who they are, can use this term.

what does lgbtq stand for


People often love to source nature as the standard “only” male and female paradigm. But if you watch a few hours of Animal Planet, we know that’s not true at all. For example, clownfish can change genders. And my personal favorite, flatworms that penis fight to decide which one is male. Nature is amazing!

So, why should it be surprising that some humans are born with differences in their reproductive systems? For example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris or lacking a vaginal opening. A boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia.

The LGBT community has embraced Intersex people as part of the family.


Asexual (sometimes called Ace) is when someone doesn’t feel sexual attraction to others. This is not the same as romantic attraction. Any Ace person can have a fulfilling, meaningful relationship without having sex. It is also not a form of celibacy.

Being an Ally means you are a heterosexual person who is a strong, active supporter of the LGBT+ community. They are someone who “confronts heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, heterosexual, and gender-straight privilege in themselves and others.” Simply being accepting doesn’t make that person an ally.

What does LGBTQ Stand For? Specifically the “+”

Finally, the Plus part of the acronym. And I would say it’s my favorite one because it sort of represents the entire concept. The plus sign includes all other non-heterosexual people that don’t have a letter in the group just yet. This includes things like Pansexual, Genderqueer, or really anything a person wants it to be.


The LGBT term is used and recognized by most people. My thoughts are, and correct me if I’m wrong, that it’s merely because Lesbians, Gays, Bis, and Trans were among the first to publically fight for acceptance, respect, or even the daily safety that other people had. It’s not to say there weren’t others fighting the good fight. It was just these groups that had the spotlight first.

And since they opened the wonderful floodgates for gender, sexual, and romantic exploration and classification (if people want labelling at all) more letters were able to join the family.

However, the human brain can only remember so many sections of information. And the more you tack on, the less powerful the acronym. I think that’s why we still hover around LGBTQ+. It’s just easier to remember than LGBTQQAAI+

But that’s just my own two cents.


Remember, the language around this topic is always changing. We are growing in our understanding. Our terminology and definitions might change in the future to better encompass this evolution.

But don’t worry. If you’re not sure, just ask. People in this community would much rather educate. In fact, most of us love it! (Yes, I’m one of those letters). We would rather spread love and understanding than have people make incorrect assumptions. So go ahead and learn 🙂

Want more interesting articles? Try this one – Pride Flag – Learn Its Amazing History – LOVENSE BLOG

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