Who Are These
an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer. When we talk about gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transgender, and queer people, who are we
referring to? What do these terms mean? Who are these
LGBTQ people? Where are these LGBTQ people? What do they
do? What do they look like? What do we need to know
LGBTQ is an umbrella term that describes a group of
people defined by their sexual orientation, gender
identity, and gender expression. The LGBTQ acronym has
sometimes been expanded to also include: Q
(Questioning), A (Asexual), A (Ally), I (Intersex), P
(Pansexual), and so on. In a broad group of people who
might identify themselves as a members of a sexual
minority (outside the mainstream), other descriptors
certainly could be added to the list.
On average, about 10% of the population is gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transgender, or queer. That figure is
sometimes expressed as high as 15%. Gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transgender, and queer people have existed in
every time period in history, in every culture, in every
segment of society, in every walk of life. Apparently,
sexual orientation is not related to oneís social
standing, moral perspective, cultural setting,
ethnicity, or upbringing. And it does not seem to be
part of a trend or a phase someone is going through.
Although members of a sexual minority,
LGBTQ people are otherwise no different from you and me. They have
regular jobs. They vote and pay taxes. They shop and buy
things. They attend school. They engage in recreation
and leisure activities. They have families. They raise
children. They attend their church, temple or mosque.
They care about political and social issues. They
contribute to the economy. They date. They fall in love.
They care about their relationships. They are your
classmates, co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, friends,
relatives. They are your mothers and fathers, brothers
and sisters, sons and daughters.
made, and continue to make, great contributions in all
areas of society, including literature, the arts,
entertainment, athletics, religion, education, business,
finance, science, government, politics, and the
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The act of politically grouping all non-heterosexual and
non-cisgender people into the acronym LGBTQ is an act of
exclusion. The LGBTQ acronym has expanded to LGBTQIA and
more, in an attempt to be as representative as possible.
But as the language used to describe these identities
continues to grow, so does the need for more appropriate
the acronym could easily be expressed as a whopping 14
letters long: LGGBBTTQQIAAPP. This lengthy acronym
stands for lesbian, gay, genderqueer, bisexual, bigender,
transgender, trans, queer, questioning, intersex,
asexual, agender, pansexual and polyamorous. Some
versions include "2S" for two-spirit.
Not surprising, you will sometimes see the acronym
expressed with a plus sign as in: LGBTQ+.
suggest using shorter, more general acronyms, like GSM,
which stands for gender and sexual minorities. GSM
serves as a much better acronymic blanket statement than
LGBTQ, because it does not specify any gender or sexual
identity whatsoever. In its ambiguity, GSM is not only
more accurate, but itís flexible. The name does not need
to be updated at the rapid pace of language
GSD (Gender and Sexual Diversities) has been suggested
as a more inclusive term. This designator would include
people who might be asexual, members of the BDSM/kink
community, and people who were in non-traditional
relationships that might be polyamorous or swingers.
point, GSRM (Gender, Sexuality, and Romantic Minorities)
was also proposed.
Some also recommended MOGA (Marginalized Orientation and
Gender Alignments) and MOGII (Marginalized Orientations,
Gender Identity, and Intersex). Looking
for a good all-around inclusive umbrella term, SOGI
(Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) was also
suggested in some circles.
For purposes of sociological categorization, homosexual,
transgender, and queer people are considered to be
members of a sexual minority. The term sexual
minority refers to any identity, orientation,
lifestyle, or practice that doesnít comply with the
mainstream heterosexual or cisgender concept of normal
sexual or gender behavior.
sexual minority can be used as an umbrella term
to encompass any group or individual who identifies as
gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, asexual,
transgender, transsexual, genderqueer,
gender-nonconforming, gender variant, agender, intersex,
polyamorous, kinky, or otherwise queer.
of a sexual minority, LGBTQ people are often subject to
the rules and attitudes of the majority heterosexual or
straight community. There is a potential in a
heterocentric environment (or ideology) to breed
heterosexism (or a heterosexist system) that results in
heterosexual privilege and homophobia. As with any
minority group, there is risk of oppression from members
of the majority group.
term sexual minority in certain conversations
helps to focus on the potential for oppression,
prejudice, and discrimination by the majority group. A
civilized society recognizes that minority voices must
be heard and that members of the minority community must
people object to using the term sexual minority
and prefer the term LGBTQ. Reasons for these objections
may vary. For example, some LGBTQ people feel that the
term sexual minority reminds them about
discrimination and about being a minority. They want to
be not a distinct minority but an integral and
respectable part of the society. Some other LGBTQ people
dislike the term for being too inclusive, including
swingers, polyamorists, BDSM people and other perceived
"sexual strangers". These LGBTQ people want to make a
larger distance between these sexual practices and
sexual orientation/gender identity.
Some transgender and transsexual people dislike the term
sexual minority for yet another reason. They
argue that the phenomenon of transsexuality or
transgender has nothing to do with sex, sexual practices
or sexual orientation, but it relates to the gender,
gender dysphoria and gender-variant behavior or
feelings. Thus, they feel it is incorrect to classify
them as "sexual minority", when, in fact, they are
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