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What Does LGBTQ+ Mean?

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LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and the “plus” represents other sexual identities.

The acronym is used to represent a diverse range of sexualities and gender identities. The first four letters of the acronym have been used since the 1990s, but in recent years there has been an increased awareness of the need to be inclusive of other sexual identities to offer better representation. 

The original acronym has gained more letters designed to help better represent other identities related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Let’s break it down a bit more…

What does each letter mean?


A lesbian is an individual who identifies as a woman who is attracted to only people of the same/similar gender.


Gay is usually a term used to refer to individuals who identify as men who are only attracted to people of the same/similar gender. 

However, lesbians can also be referred to as gay. The use of the term gay became more popular during the 1970s. 

Today, bisexual and pansexual people sometimes use gay to casually refer to themselves when they talk about their similar gender attraction.


Bisexuality indicates an attraction to both males and females, or to more than one gender. 

The recognition of bisexual individuals is important since there have been periods when people who identify as bisexual have been misunderstood as being gay. 

Bisexuality has included transgender, binary and nonbinary individuals since the release of the “Bisexual Manifesto” in 1990.


Transgender is a term that indicates that a person’s gender identity is different from the gender associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. 

Queer or Questioning 

Though queer may be used by people as a specific identity, it is often considered an umbrella term for anyone who is non-cisgender or heterosexual. 

Questioning refers to people who may be unsure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Note: Queer can also be a derogatory slur. It should not be placed on all members of the community, and should only be used by cisgender and heterosexual individuals when referring to a person who explicitly identifies with it.

Why Does the “Plus” Matter?

The purpose of the acronym is to represent the tremendous diversity of people who are same/similar gender attracted and transgender. The addition of the plus is better able to fully capture that diversity stands for those who aren’t questioning their sexuality but identify as part of a group that might not be so well known or understood.


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