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What is LGBTQ+?
People are often confused by the terms lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and the related acronym LGBTQ+. The following definitions will help you to understand these terms.
Lesbian A woman whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay (adj.) or as gay women. Avoid identifying lesbians as “homosexuals,” a derogatory term (see Offensive Terms to Avoid).
Gay The adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., gay man, gay people). In contemporary contexts, lesbian (n. or adj.) is often a preferred term for women. Avoid identifying gay people as “homosexuals” an outdated term considered derogatory and offensive to many lesbian and gay people.
Bisexual, Bi An individual who is physically, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to men and women. Bisexuals need not have had sexual experience with both men and women; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual.
Transgender An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender,transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.
Queer Traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some LGBT people to describe themselves. However, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting or describing someone who self-identifies that way. Can also stand for questioning.
Plus (+) an umbrella term/symbol used in order to be all-inclusive of anyone who desires to identify with this community. Can include any of the letters making up LGBPTTQQIIAA+ or any combination of letters attempting to represent all the identities in the queer community, this near-exhaustive one (but not exhaustive) represents Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Intergender, Asexual, Ally.
Resources to Get You Started
The Rainbow Flag
The Rainbow Flag
Originally a symbol of the the gay and lesbian movement, San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed the first rainbow flag for his city's June 25, 1978, Gay Freedom Day Parade. The orginal flag had eight stripes but was redesigned in 1979. Today, the six colors represent the following:
- Red = Life
- Orange = Healing
- Yellow - Sun or Sunlight
- Green = Serenity
- Blue = Harmony
- Violet = Spirit
The flag is now a symbol of the LGBTQ community as a whole. There are also many varations of the flag to represent the different groups within the LGBTQ community.
from Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia