LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning. The LGBTQ+ community includes people of all races, ethnicity, ages, and status. Understand how people may identify. Learn about LGBTQ+ immigrant rights and how to find support.
The LGBTQ+ community is diverse. Here is an explanation of what each letter in LGBTQ+ stands for:
- Lesbians are women attracted emotionally, romantically, or sexually to other women.
- Gay usually describes a man attracted to another man. It also refers to males and females attracted to same-sex or same-gender partners.
- Bisexual people are men or women who experience a romantic or sexual attraction toward both men and women.
- Transgender (trans) people have a gender identity that differs from the sex assigned at birth.
- Queer describes any sexual and gender identities other than straight or cisgender. Q also represents questioning for those exploring their sexual or gender identity.
- Cisgender is someone who identifies as their assigned birth gender.
- The plus sign (+) represents additional identities beyond lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. It means inclusivity and recognizes that the LGBTQ+ community is diverse. It can include:
- Intersex people who are born with different sex traits and anatomy variations.
- Asexual people who do not experience sexual attraction. Asexual people can date and be in relationships but not have sex.
- Non-binary people who do not identify their gender exclusively as male or female. They may use the pronouns “they/them” instead of “she/her” or “he/him”.
- Pansexual people who are attracted emotionally, romantically, or sexually to all gender identities.
Sometimes LGBTQ+ can have additional letters to represent some of the terms under the + sign. Some of the terms that are now common are different from what they used to be. People also have different preferences for terms.
If you are afraid to say the wrong thing, it is always helpful to ask the person and use the terms that they prefer. You can learn more words and terms to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Remember, listening and respecting each person’s identity is important.
LGBTQ+ immigrants who come to the United States face unique challenges. It can be harder to access needed resources due to language and other barriers. They may also experience more unfair treatment and prejudice in response to being LGBTQ+ and an immigrant. They might also face challenges within the immigrant community itself.
If you are new to the USA, you might not be familiar with areas of the country that are more LGBTQ+ friendly. Some states offer more rights to LGBTQ+ people than others. You can look at this map. The green states have better protections while the red states have the least protections.
Your experience can change depending on the cities within those states too. LGBTQ+ people and their allies are everywhere, as are people who do not support LGBTQ+ rights.
Refugees and asylees
Many come to the United States as asylum seekers or refugees because they are in danger in their home country because they are LGBTQ+. The U.S. gives you the right to seek asylum if you faced persecution because of your LGBTQ+ identity. If you want to ask for asylum, you must apply within one year of arriving in the USA.
Others come to the USA without legal immigration status and are undocumented. This can make getting health care and other government services harder. Community health centers and clinics can offer low-cost health care.
If you are trying to bring a partner to the USA, same-sex couples who are legally married are recognized as spouses for U.S. family-based visas. This can be difficult if you could not be married in your home country. If you are a U.S. citizen, you may be able to apply for a fiance visa to have your partner come to the U.S. for marriage. If you qualify, this process can still take a lot of time.
LGBTQ+ people continue to face discrimination, hate crimes, and health gaps. In the USA, there is an ongoing debate on gay rights, conversion therapy, and religious beliefs. The challenges can be further complicated by someone’s race, ethnicity, social and economic status, and location.
LGBTQ+ people in the USA do have certain rights, including:
- Immigration benefits
- Same-sex marriage
- Family rights
- Work rights
- Housing rights
- Public space rights
- Healthcare rights
Learn more about LGBTQ+ rights and laws.
Find help and community
In the United States, there are many places you can find support and make friends. Many cities have LGBTQ+ community centers and organizations that want to help.
Health services and resources by state and city.
Legal services to LGBTQ immigrants across the country.
Help LGBTQ+ in immigration detention centers
LGBTQ+ health information in English and Spanish, and other additional languages.
Guides and resources to help trans people find health services, IDs, and other resources.
Support, education, and advocacy for LGBTQ+ individuals, their families, and allies.
Suicide and crisis prevention for LGBTQ+ Youth
Pride Month, or Pride, is in June. Pride is a celebration to recognize the LGBTQ+ community. During Pride, people celebrate LGBTQ+ rights, history, and achievements. Pride has many events like parades, festivals, and gathering to build community and raise awareness.
Rainbow flags are common in the United States. The colorful flag is a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride. There are also different variations for different identities. It is displayed during Pride Month and the rest of the year to show alliance with the community.
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