What Does LGBTQ+ Mean and Stand For?
Get the lowdown on what this acronym for sexual and gender identities actually stands for!
You may be familiar with the terms ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’ and ‘bisexual’ but don’t fully understand what each letter stands for, or what it represents. Our sexuality is used to describe who we are sexually or romantically attracted to. Our gender is how we personally identify our own gender. Let’s take a look at LGBTQ+ to get a better understanding!
L – Lesbian. A lesbian is a female who is attracted to another female. This can be romantic feelings or a sexual attraction.
G – Gay. Mainly used to describe homosexual males (males who are attracted to males) but can also be used by women who are attracted to other women..
B – Bisexual. This is used to describe someone who feels an attraction to people of the same sex and the opposite sex.
T – Transgender. Sometimes known as ‘trans’ for short. This means that someone identifies as a different sex from the one they were assigned at birth.
Q – Queer. This is a broad term used by some individuals in the LGBTQ+ community, and was once considered a slur. It can be used by people who don’t identify as straight but may see themselves as any of the above.
Q – Questioning. Many people identify the ‘Q’ as ‘Questioning’. This means they are unsure of their sexuality or gender identity.
+ – PLUS. The plus sign stands for all the other sexual identities and genders not covered by the rest of the letters. It’s often added at the end of LGBTQ to ensure no-one is left-out or not represented. Many sexualities or gender identities can’t be summed up in simple terms, which is why the + is designed to include and welcome everyone.
Not As Simple As A, B, C…
There are many more terms around sexuality and gender identity that fall under the umbrella of LGBTQ+, from pansexual (attracted to people of all genders) to asexual (no sexual feelings or attractions for anyone). You can read more here: https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/your-feelings/sexual-identity/sexual-orientation/
Demi Lovato is a strong celebrity voice when it comes to sexual fluidity and LGBTQ+ issues:
“I’m very fluid, and I think love is love. You can find it in any gender. I like the freedom of being able to flirt with whoever I want.”
I’m Confused About My Sexuality
If you’re feeling confused or unsure about your sexuality, you’re not alone. It’s perfectly normal to have questions around who you are and aren’t attracted to. It can take a lot of time to work this out and that’s OK.
You may identify with a specific label and are worried about what people will think or how they will react. If you’re thinking about coming out – explaining your sexual orientation to someone – it can feel scary and lonely. Please know that there is lots of help and support out there for you.
Click https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/looking-after-yourself/sexuality-and-mental-health/ for more information and support around being confused about your sexuality.
Don’t worry if you can’t ‘figure’ out your sexuality. Some people prefer not to put a label on it and prefer the term ‘fluid sexuality’. You might think you’re gay when you’re younger but then realise you are bisexual a few years later. It’s normal to change your mind about how you identify throughout your life.
Miley Cyrus says,
“My whole life, I didn’t understand my own gender and my own sexuality. I always hated the word ‘bisexual,’ because that’s even putting me in a box. I don’t ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl. My eyes started opening in the fifth or sixth grade. My first relationship in my life was with a chick.”What’s important is that you feel happy and comfortable with your sexuality – label or no label. There’s so much more awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ nowadays and increasing support and love for people of all sexualities. Twilight’s Kristen Stewart is confident that the world is on the right path when it comes to sexuality – “I think in three or four years, there are going to be a whole lot more people who don’t think it’s necessary to figure out if you’re gay or straight. It’s like, just do your thing.”
If someone bullies you or says mean things about you because you identify as LGBTQ+, that’s called discrimination and it is never OK. Discrimination could include name-calling, physical abuse, making sexual comments or making you feel uncomfortable about your sexuality.
If you are experiencing discrimination or have seen someone being bullied or alienated because of their sexuality, then it’s important to speak up and tell someone. Talk to an adult you trust or a teacher at school to report it. We all need to do our bit to stamp out hate and spread love and acceptance.
Social media can be a dark place at times, but it can also be a great source of comfort. Try to find supportive groups and peers online to share your story and any worries you might have.
Years and Years’ frontman, Olly Alexander, found great strength in the online community, saying ““I’ve seen some amazing communities on Tumblr that are so supportive of each other and Years And Years fans that find each other, and they’ve really learned to support each other, and talked about their mental health issues with each other. That’s been a really positive side of [the internet].”
Watch Olly’s amazing BBC documentary, Growing Up Gay, in which he explores the mental health issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community on the BBC iPlayer here. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p057nfy7
For further help:
Childline 0800 11 11
Bullying and discrimination: https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/bullying-abuse-safety/types-bullying/homophobic-bullying/