LGBTQ+ is an acronym that is part of a language of letters in a larger fight for inclusion. There is also a greater meaning than what the letters themselves actually stand for. But this “Initializing” of what really is a human rights movement, has caused division and confusion during its evolution too.  Some groups want to be included in the community but at the same time resist being associated with others. And those outside the community are often unable to understand letters added to recognize more groups. But at the end of the day, LGBT stands for progress despite these issues. The term brings unity to a scattered group of minorities within a minority. Further, the letters LGBT bring recognition to diverse identities which were referred to with hate words before. These letters also identify our webpage and purpose, so we present a short overview of them.

What Does LGBTQ+ Mean?

LGBT is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender. The acronym is also an umbrella term for topics regarding sexual identity and orientation. Moreover, the term now represents the entire community of people with sexual and gender identity other than heterosexual. However, there is much debate both inside & outside of the community about how inclusive the term actually is. So, to recognize further diversity in the community, the letter “Q” (which stands for “Queer”) has been added recently. The plus sign (+) reduces the confusion of an emerging “Alphabet Soup” of more identities & orientations. And for the most part, even groups not lettered accept “LGBTQ” to represent all sexual minority groups. Governments have also come to use the term in program names for things like “LGBT Community Centers”. The acronym is here to stay despite the continuing conflict over it.

A short History of the Term LGBT

L & G

Diversity regarding sexual identity was first put into academic words in the western world with “homosexual” in the mid-1800s. Other attempts were made after that to coin words like “Homophile” to mean sex drive other than heterosexual.  However, these and other terms have a bad connotation. Then, “Gay” was adopted by the community in the late 1960s and still endures. Reference to female-female relationships as “Lesbian” goes all the way back into ancient Greek poetry about the island of lesbos. As “gay” females became more public and sought distinction from men, the term emerged as a separate identifier. Many blame the feminist movement for this move and also, the perception that lesbians are against male gay rights. But this view is false, and the two groups stand together in the LGBT movement with the overall goal of equality.

Lesbian Couple

B & T

The past struggle for recognition of Bisexuals and Transgenders is similar to Gays & Lesbians, but with a key difference. In addition to the obvious fight for toleration outside the community, they have had to fight within it too. B’s and T’s faced criticism from L&G’s for wanting to have their own categories within the larger minority community. Those groups see transgenders as a reflection of old stereotypes, and that Bisexuals are afraid to declare a gay identity. This kind of infighting is typical of large groups, even those considered a minority in society. An example is a conflict between religious sects when all basically believe in the same thing. So then, in the 1990s all four groups created a united front against discrimination with mutual respect for each other. This is very positive because as “LGBT” became a representative term, it has helped other groups gain recognition.

What does “Q”, “+”, and everything else Mean?

Queer is an old hate term that has found new meaning as a term of further diversity. Younger members of the community wanting recognition outside of “Binary” (M-F) orientations embrace this term. Queer is a way of saying that “I have a different identity and my own sexual orientation”. Q also denotes “Questioning”. These are people who are not sure of their identity or orientation and therefore don’t want to be labelled. “Plus” (+), on the other hand, is not so complex; using it simply allows more inclusion with a shorter acronym. Plus is also a reaction to a problem with long strings of letters. For example, LGBTQIA adds “Asexual” and “Allied”, LGBTQAAI includes Intersex, and so on. Using the plus sign in LGBTQ+ strikes a balance to include the entire community. However, the risk remains that the other groups are marginalized, so general discussions must include a specific group’s interests.

More Identities and Orientations

It is a huge challenge for “LGBT” to represent a large and diverse community. There are numerous groups inferred as included but not lettered. For example, Intersex, mentioned above, is an identity that is certainly part of the community and deserves recognition. Awareness of “I”, those born with biological characteristics of both sexes, is growing.  These are people that have a sexual orientation which doesn’t match the sexual identity given them at birth. Hence it is not an issue of being Gay, Lesbian, or anything else. Pansexual is another term for a different sexual orientation/identity. “P” has sex with both males and females like bisexuals, but also with gays, lesbians, and Transgenders as well. There are in fact many other terms with letters to add to LGBT, such as “IH” for “India Hijra”. In brief, this is a reference to the third gender depicted in Hinduism, and another subject entirely.

sex identity orientation

The Politics of LGBTQ+

The political goals of the different groups are partly to blame for the diversity of terms to reflect diversity. Lesbians for instance separated from gays because there was no solidarity with the feminist cause. Gays did not embrace lesbianism in reaction to lesbian-feminists calling gays and their cause chauvinist. Transgenders and transsexuals, on the other hand, demand separate attention to their fight for rights. For instance, T’s don’t push for gay marriage and adoption like lesbians and gays do. They are more focused on workplace discrimination and protection from hate crimes. Some in the community also dispute the all-encompassing nature of the term LGBTQ+. The pushback is because they see the acronym perpetuating the myth that differences are flaws, or that it hurts distinction. Regardless of these politics, the beauty of LGBT is questioning and criticizing boundaries.

Why do We Like LGBT?

We at like the acronym because of what it represents, even if all the letters aren’t there. We all live in Thailand immersed in a culture of acceptance and tolerance; therefore, we support all the groups in the community. Further, we believe that discrimination of any kind is immoral and must be resisted. The term LGBT is just the easy way for us to say something is good about everybody.  We actually decided to do this piece about the acronym because we feel “LGBT” is often misunderstood. This is not the definitive work on the subject, but rather it is our attempt to demonstrate an understanding of diversity. And lastly, it’s a good thing for others to also see that LGBT is much more than what the letters stand for.

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