LGBTQ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer/questioning. The term has been in use since the 1990s and is an up-gradation to the term LGB (Lesbian Gay Bisexual). LGBTQ is now an umbrella term for gender identity, sexuality, and sexual orientation, for individuals. The term has more additions to it and is sometimes written as LGBTQI (where ‘I’ is for Intersex) or LGBT+ (as there are more additions to the acronym). But what does each letter stand for and what does it really mean? so let’s focus on the details of this acronym:
L (Lesbian): A lesbian is a woman who feels a sexual and romantic attraction to other women. While variations of the acronym exist, the L (for lesbian) is most-often placed first. They only feel attracted to their female counterparts.
G (Gay): Gay is usually a term used to refer to men who feel sexual and romantic attraction to other men. The use of the term gay became more popular during the 1970s. The term ‘gay community‘ was eventually replaced by the phrase ‘gay and lesbian community’ until the use of the initialized LGB and LGBT acronyms became more popular.
B (Bisexual): Bisexual indicates having a romantic and sexual attraction to both men and women. The recognition of bisexual individuals is important since there have been periods when people who identify as bi have been misunderstood as being gay but unwilling or unable to come out as gay. A person who is in a heterogeneous relationship can be attracted to the same gender as oneself. There are a lot of misunderstandings about bi-sexual people. Here is an article Top 5 Myths about Bisexuality that might help in understanding this term better.
Q (Queer or questioning): ‘Q’ represents queer or questioning. In the dictionary queer is defined as a strange feeling, but in sexuality, it is a universal term for the heterosexual and non-cisgender community, but queer is also used by people who pronounce themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual but find these terms too limiting to define their sexual identity or orientation. And those who still aren’t able to decide their sexual orientation or their gender identity use the term ‘Questioning.’
Why is this important?
Ever thought of, why representation matters?
The LGBTQ acronym serves an important purpose—not only is it designed to be more inclusive, but it also represents the self-identities of people who are not straight or cisgender. This representation is as such that allows people to think out of the box and not fit in based on the societal constructed division and disintegration. It allows people to not mold themselves around any boundary and be ‘you’ and ‘free’.
Ever wonder? If there wouldn’t have been any such representation, the amount of uncomfortableness and sheer rigidity it would have led amongst people who feel they are different from others or are shy to come out and confirm their identity. Representation gives equal space and liberty to live a life on their terms and choice.
It also means that these individuals can gain greater recognition by society as a whole. Rather than being erased, ignored, or denied, acknowledgment can help foster greater visibility of marginalized identities.
Visibility can also help create a greater sense of self-affirmation of a person’s identity. Affirming self-identity can help people feel greater self-esteem, self-worth, and boost overall mental well-being. This can be particularly important since representation has long been lacking in mainstream media.
Fostering inclusivity and acceptance may be one way to help combat some of the social, mental health issues and discrimination based on their orientation or identity.
When people can see something represented, they are better able to understand and grasp who those people are, and this creates an important shift in the social consciousness to include people from a range of different backgrounds. Visibility and representation in the society are fostering the moral that ‘you exist’ and ‘you matter’. Representation helps us to eradicate and erase the stereotypes running in the society about that particular group.