What's in the LGBTQIA+ Alphabet Soup?

Vibrant Facts

There are lots of abbreviations to describe LGBTQIA+ communities, and different people choose different abbreviations depending on what identities they want to emphasize or the issues they are discussing. These terms, like the communities in question and the discourse around them, evolve as new ones are created to describe the complex diversity of our species. It can get confusing! You may see LGBT, LGBT+, and even LGBTTQQIAAP, QUILTBAG, and a variety of others. Here is a quick primer for the uninitiated. 

Most of us are familiar with the first four letters. 

L is for Lesbian.

G is for Gay.

B is for Bisexual.

T is for Transgender.

Here are some other terms you might encounter.

Q is for is for Queer, a term that many in the community have 'reclaimed', often to distinguish their identity from those who adopt a more hetero-normative lifestyle, or to emphasize a more inclusive, intersectional,  or even vaguer sexual and/or gender identity.  

Q is also for Questioning. If there are two Q's in an abbreviation, it is likely that the second refers to people who are questioning their sexual or gender identities. 

I is for Intersex, which refers to people who are born with ambiguous genitalia or more than one set of genitalia. This is far more common than most people assume, happening in around one in 1500 births, and sometimes manifesting around puberty. Depending on the definitions in the study, this may be up to one in 100 births. 

A is for Asexual, describing people who do not experience sexual attraction. 

T, 2, T2, and TS are for Two-Spirit, a term from indigenous Native American people to describe a third gender, of people who are both male and female (or neither). This concept has existed in indigenous cultures for centuries, and the term is reserved for people from those cultures. 

H is for Hijra, which is a word used in India to describe intersex and trans people, although other terms are also used. LGBTIH is one of the abbreviations that can be seen in India. This term is reserved for people from those cultures. 

P is for Pansexual, a term referring to attraction to people regardless of sex and gender identity.

P is also for Polyamorous, referring to people who do not practice monogamy. 

G is also for Genderqueer, which includes people of nonbinary (neither male nor female) or gender fluid (shifting between identities). 

MLM, WLW stand for "men loving men" and "women loving women", respectively. 

SGM stands for "sexual and gender minority".

SGL stands for "same gender loving".

Adding a + to the acronym is one strategy for including anyone who isn't mentioned in the abbreviation, but is still a part of the community.