The A-Z’s of LGBTQ+: What Does...

The A-Z’s of LGBTQ+: What Does “LGBTQ+” Mean?

by Sarah Leung
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Pride Month may be June, but the concept of pride extends to a person’s whole life. Pride Month dedicates June to supporting LGBTQ+ people and their experiences.

When it comes to discussing the acronym “LGBTQ+,” it can be hard to understand what each letter and the plus sign mean. “LGBTQ+” is one way to spell it, but other ways of writing the acronym include: GLBT, LGBTQ2+, LGBTQIA2+, and many more.

L (Lesbian)

The “L” in LGBTQ+ stands for “lesbian.” A lesbian is someone who identifies as a woman and feels attraction towards other women.

G (Gay)

The “G” in LGBTQ+ stands for “gay.” This usually refers to a person who identifies as a man and feels attraction towards other men.

Other people who have different identities under the LGBTQ+ spectrum may also call themselves gay. For example, lesbians may call themselves gay women.

B (Bisexual)

The “B” in LGBTQ+ stands for “bisexual.” Someone who is bisexual considers themselves attracted to men and women, and/or attracted to other genders.

People who are bisexual can like one gender more than the other but are still attracted to multiple. For example, a bisexual boy can prefer to have a male partner, but they are still attracted to women.

T (Transgender)

The “T” in LGBTQ+ stands for “transgender.” When people are born, they are labelled a boy or a girl, which is an assigned sex at birth.

People whose gender matches their assigned sex at birth are cisgender. People whose gender does not match their assigned sex at birth are transgender.

The transgender label also includes non-binary people: those who do not identify as either a boy or a girl.

“Transgender” relates to gender, not sexuality. Transgender people can be straight (attracted to the opposite gender), gay, bisexual, or any other orientation.

Q (Queer)

The “Q” in LGBTQ+ stands for “queer.” In the context of LGBTQ+, “queer” is a broad term that can be applied to anyone who identifies within the community.

“Queer” originated as a harmful term that was used to label people as strange. Not everyone is okay with using “queer,” or hearing people use the term. The term is a reclaimed term, meaning that the community turned its horrible meaning into something that they are proud of.

What is the “+”?

Like “queer,” the “+” symbol describes any other orientations within the community.   

This includes identities such as Intersex, Asexual and/or Aromantic, Agender, and Two-Spirit.


Someone who is intersex was born with a reproductive system that does not match society’s assumed definitions of male and female.

Asexual and Aromantic

Someone who is asexual does not feel sexual attraction towards others. Some asexual people still feel romantic attraction towards others, like having crushes on them or wanting to date them. Asexual people can be any romantic orientation, including straight, gay, bi, or aromantic.

Someone who does not feel romantic attraction towards others is called aromantic.


Someone who is agender does not identify with any gender. They do not have a gender.


Two-Spirit is an identity unique to Indigenous peoples. Someone who is not Indigenous cannot claim the Two-Spirit identity.

While not all LGBTQ+ Indigenous people identify as Two-Spirit, only Indigenous people can explain what “Two-Spirit” means to them. The Two-Spirit identity can have different meanings to whoever has it: it can relate to sexuality, gender, or both.

Which Acronym Should Be Used?

To make it simple: there is no one “correct” acronym. Keep in mind that the LGBTQ+ acronym has changed over the years.

It used to be “GLBT,” then “LGBT,” then “LGBTQ” before becoming “LGBTQ+.” These changes happened over the 1980’s, 1990’s, and 2000’s.

Some people may not use “LGBTQ+” at all. The acronym “GRSM” also exists and shares the same meaning. GRSM stands for Gender Romantic Sexual Minority.

Keeping all identities under a simple acronym becomes tough when new labels are created at any time. GRSM is one alternative to easily keep all the labels into one acronym, without needing to add or drop any letters.



“General Definitions.” LGBT Resource Center, University of California San Francisco, https://lgbt.ucsf.edu/glossary-terms. Accessed 11 May 2022.

“GLAAD Media Reference Guide – LGBTQ Terms.” GLAAD, 24 Feb. 2022, https://www.glaad.org/reference/terms. Accessed 8 May 2022.

“Meet the Methods Series: ‘What and Who Is Two-Spirit?’ In Health Research.” Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Government of Canada, 29 Oct. 2020, https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/52214.html. Accessed 9 May 2022.

“PFLAG National Glossary of Terms.” PFLAG, Jan. 2021, https://pflag.org/glossary. Accessed 9 May 2022.

Steinmetz, Katy. “Why ‘LGBTQ’ Will Replace ‘LGBT.’” Time, 26 Oct. 2016, https://time.com/4544704/why-lgbtq-will-replace-lgbt/. Accessed 8 May 2022.

“What is Intersex?” Intersex Society of North America. https://isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex/. Accessed 8 May 2022.

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