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Who Are These LGBT People?

LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender.  When we talk about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, who are we referring to?  What do these terms mean?  What does the LGBT (QQIAAP etc) acronym stand for?  Who are these LGBT people?  Where are these LGBT people?  What do they do?  What do they look like?  What do we need to know about them?


LGBT is an umbrella term that describes a group of people defined by their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.  LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender.  The acronym has sometimes been expanded to also include: Q (Questioning), Q (Queer), 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.


Relevant Information











Gender Non-Conforming


Relevant Links


Wikipedia: LGBT
Huff Post: What Does LGBT Really Mean?

Collegiate Times: Alternate Acronym for LGBT Alphabet Soup

Queerty: Therapists Suggest Replacing LGBT with GSD

LGBT Terms and Definitions

12 LGBT Facts to Celebrate



 LGBT People


On average, about 10% of the population is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.  That figure is sometimes expressed as high as 15%.  Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender 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 one’s 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.



LGBT people are 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… 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…   Mothers and fathers...  Brothers and sisters…   Sons and daughters.


They have 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 military.




Kinsey Institute: Who Are These LGBT Americans?


LGBT Informational Resources


Sexual Orientation

Origins of Homosexuality



Sex and Gender


LGBT Parents

Glossary of Terminology

Frequently Asked Questions
Myths and Misconceptions

Important Days
Famous LGBT People
Historical Notes
Pride Symbols


LGBT And More

The act of politically grouping all non-heterosexual and non-cisgender people into the acronym LGBT is an act of exclusion. The LGBT acronym has expanded to LGBTQ or even LGBTQIA, 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 identification.

At the time of this writing, the acronym is a whopping 14 letters long: LGGBBTTQQIAAPP.  In case you do not already know, this long 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.


There is no use studying for common conversation like it’s a vocabulary test, and this acronym is entirely too long to commit to memory with ease. Even if everyone suddenly started using this fourteen-letter name to represent their non-heterosexual/non-cisgender friends and the community they belong to, it still would not be good enough.

Simply put, there are many more than 14 gender and sexual identities. Even though this acronym (or initialism) may sound exhaustive now, it will grow forever. 



Therefore, I propose everyone start using the acronym GSM, which stands for gender and sexual minorities. GSM serves as a much better acronymic blanket statement than LGBT, because it does not specify any gender or sexual identity whatsoever. In its ambiguity, GSM is not only more accurate, but it’s flexible. The name does not need to be updated at the rapid pace of language proliferation.

Critics of the term GSM argue that it is too inclusive. Sexual minority is ambiguous enough to possibly include fetishists or swingers. In fact, the man who coined the term in the 1960s, Swedish psychiatrist and medical doctor Lars Ullerstam, wrote about sexual minorities in a manner that included pedophiles and other sex criminals. Today, however, the term is specific to minority genders and sexual orientations rather than sex preferences.


The terms used to identify specific gender and sexual minorities keeps expanding, which is a great thing. The GSM dictionary is expanding because of the urgent need for people to build GSM communities and explain to others how they understand their gender and sexuality. It’s very hard to explain such things without the language necessary to do so.

Grouping each member of the ever-expanding list of gender and sexual minorities into the acronym LGBT delegitimizes their identities and the progress made to include their identities in our language. It suggests that everyone should fall into one of those four categories. However, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender function as individual identities, not categories into which the entire GSM community can be grouped.


If everyone started using GSM in the same candid and common way they use LGBT, there would be a better understanding of the large range of GSM identities. The shift in language alone would cause enough curiosity that people would start doing research to see the extensive community they may have missed under the misleading guise of LGBT. It’s not hard to do, so for the sake of progress, make the switch.


(From Julia Lattimer, Collegiate Times)




Collegiate Times: Alternate Acronym for LGBT Alphabet Soup

Queerty: Therapists Suggest Replacing LGBT with GSD
Wikipedia: LGBT


Inclusive Terminology


London’s Pink Therapy finds “LGBT” to be an ineffective label and suggested “GSD” — Gender and Sexual Diversities — as a more inclusive term.  “LGBT became LGBTIQQA — adding Intersex, Queer, Questioning and their Allies — which was still very limiting,” Davies says in the video. “It still excluded a lot of groups. People who might be asexual, members of the BDSM/kink commnity, people who were in non-traditional relationships that might be polyamorous or swingers. A whole batch of people who didn’t feel able to go to mainstream counseling organizations and also wouldn’t necessarily be welcome at LGBT counseling organizations.”




Collegiate Times: Alternate Acronym for LGBT Alphabet Soup

Queerty: Therapists Suggest Replacing LGBT with GSD
Wikipedia: LGBT


Alternative Acronyms

LGBT(QIAP)+, as you probably realize, is long, unwieldy, and often leaves marginalized peoples out. It also tends to fetishize the L, prioritize the G, criticize the B and forget the T.

As an alternative, GSD (Gender and Sexual Diversities), GSM (Gender and Sexual Minorities) and GSRM (Gender, Sexuality, and Romantic Minorities) were proposed.  Looking for a good inclusive umbrella term, SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) was also suggested in some circles.

Then MOGII came along, but that one had some evolution.


The original term was MOGA, for Marginalized Orientation and Gender Alignments.  That seemed to work, but then people began to use MOGAI to include intersex folks who are often left out of important discussions (MOGA and Intersex).  So, MOGII was born.  MOGII stands for Marginalized Orientations, Gender Identity, and Intersex.


(From Empty Closets Blog)


Huff Post: What Does LGBT Really Mean?

Collegiate Times: Alternate Acronym for LGBT Alphabet Soup

Queerty: Therapists Suggest Replacing LGBT with GSD



A very clever person once proposed this very creative, yet simple, version of the LGBT+ acronym.  It requires changing the traditional order of the letters and being open to a slight variation on word usage.  Otherwise, this is an acronym that is actually pronounceable. The QUILTBAG acronym stands for Queer, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay.


 Love, Grace, Beauty, Trust


In a recent article in Huffington Post, it was suggested that LGBT could stand for: Love, Grace, Beauty, and Truth.  Author Stephanie Mott offers this translation of LGBT:


"Love" fills the human heart with the joy that could and should belong to all people. I have seen people professing proudly and publicly that two lesbian women are not entitled to the same kind of joy that is freely available to a man and a woman. It is the very essence of hate that two committed human beings should not be allowed to proclaim their love to their families and friends, to their neighbors and coworkers, and to their communities for the petty reason that they are of the same sex.


"Grace" is the unspoken, moment-by-moment lifetime that takes place throughout our land when two gay men are not allowed to proclaim their love while walking in a society that feasts on the same joy they are denied.


"Beauty" is the spot-on synonym for "bisexual."  Love can sometimes transcend gender. It is love in its purest form. It is a love for a human being that is not contingent on that person's gender.


"Truth" becomes the definition of "transgender" when a person stops pretending to be someone they are not.




Wikipedia: LGBT
Huff Post: What Does LGBT Really Mean?
LGBT Terms and Definitions

12 LGBT Facts to Celebrate


History, Initials, Acronyms

The first widely used term, homosexual, was thought to carry negative connotations and tended to be replaced by homophile in the 1950s and 1960s, and subsequently gay in the 1970s.


As lesbians forged more public identities, the phrase "gay and lesbian" became more common. The Daughters of Bilitis folded in 1970 over which direction to focus on: feminism or gay rights issues. As equality was a priority for lesbian feminists, disparity of roles between men and women or butch and femme were viewed as patriarchal. Lesbian feminists eschewed gender role play that had been pervasive in bars, as well as the perceived chauvinism of gay men; many lesbian feminists refused to work with gay men, or take up their causes. Lesbians who held a more essentialist view that they had been born homosexual and used the descriptor "lesbian" to define sexual attraction, often considered the separatist, angry opinions of lesbian-feminists to be detrimental to the cause of gay rights.




This was soon followed by bisexual and transgender people also seeking recognition as legitimate categories within the larger community. After the initial euphoria of the Stonewall riots wore off, starting in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, there was a change in perception; some gays and lesbians became less accepting of bisexual or transgender people. It was thought that transgender people were acting out stereotypes and bisexuals were simply gay men or lesbian women who were afraid to come out and be honest about their identity.


Each community that is collectively included has struggled to develop its own identity including whether, and how, to align with other gender and sexuality-based communities at times excluding other subgroups; these conflicts continue to this day.


The initials LGBT saw occasional use in the United States from about 1988. Not until the 1990s did it become common to speak of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people with equal respect within the movement. Although the LGBT community has seen much controversy regarding universal acceptance of different member groups (bisexual and transgender individuals, in particular, have sometimes been marginalized by the larger LGBT community), the term LGBT has been a positive symbol of inclusion.


Despite the fact that LGBT does not nominally encompass all individuals in smaller communities, the term is generally accepted to include those not identified in the four-letter acronym. Overall, the use of the term LGBT has, over time, largely aided in bringing otherwise marginalized individuals into the general community.




Wikipedia: LGBT
Huff Post: What Does LGBT Really Mean?
LGBT Terms and Definitions

Kinsey Institute: Who Are These LGBT Americans?


LGBT Informational Resources


Center for Gender Sanity
Diagram of Sex and Gender
Jessica Pettitt: LGBT Info and Resources

Kinsey Institute: Who Are These LGBT Americans?

Wikipedia: Gender Identity
Gender Identity Development
Sexuality and Gender Identity
Keep Kids Healthy: Gender Identity
What Makes People Gay?

How Do I Know I'm Gay?
APA Booklet: Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation
Biology Not Bigotry By Justin Woods
Homosexuality: Is It A Choice?

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
Monash University: Gender and Medicine
Univ of Hawaii: Pacific Center for Sex and Society
Born Different

Homosexuality: Biologically or Socially Constructed?
CBS News 60 Minutes Report: The Science of Sexual Orientation
Wikipedia: Homosexuality and Psychology
Pro and Con: Born Gay?



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Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama