LGBTQ: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities

LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning. In every country and society, many people belong to one of these communities. In the USA, LGBTQ people have the same rights and freedoms as everyone else, including the right to marry partners of the same sex.

Two women at Pride parade carrying rainbow flags

Who is LGBTQ?

People who identify as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community come from many different backgrounds. LGBTQ includes people of all races, ethnicity, ages, status, and nationalities. There are around 11 million LGBTQ people in the USA. This is about 5% of the population.

People who have same-sex partners and people who are transitioning (changing) between genders can be described as LGBTQ. LGBTQ also includes people who are not sure about their gender or sexuality and people who do not identify as one gender or another. Some people change the words they use to describe themselves during their lifetime.

Equal rights to marriage

In 2015, the US Supreme Court (which is the highest court in the country) declared that marriages between two people of the same sex are legal. In most of the USA, romantic relationships between two people of the same sex are viewed as equal to those between a man and a woman. In some states, people are not all accepting of LGBTQ people. When you travel, learn what common opinions are so you can stay safe.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer definitions

Here is an explanation of each letter in LGBTQ:

  • L: lesbian
    A woman who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction for another woman as a romantic partner.
  • G: gay
    Most often used to describe a man who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction for another man. This term also is used to refer to both males and females who experience romantic love or sexual attraction for a same-sex or same-gender partner.
  • B: bisexual
    A man or woman who experiences romantic and/or sexual attraction toward both males and females.
  • T: transgender
    Somebody who does not identify with the sex of the body they were born into. They may be in some stage of physical transition to fit their gender. This term is different than all the others because it does not refer to who a person is attracted to. Someone who is transgender can also be lesbian, for example.
  • Q: queer/questioning 
    These words describe sexual and gender identities other than straight and cisgender (the physical gender which you were born into). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people may all identify with the word queer. Overall, it means that your gender and sexuality are different than most people’s. Or that you might still be questioning how you feel.

Sometimes, you may see the term LGBTQ with more initials added. An example is LGBTQIAA. This is what the other letters mean: 

  • I: intersex
    This is a term for a person who was born with parts that belong to both sexes. This might mean that their reproductive parts are mixed. Some may be male, while others are female. It could also mean that their genes belong to both sexes.
  • A: asexual
    Someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Asexual people can date and be in relationships, but they do not have sex. This can also mean “allied”. This is a person who is not LGBTQ but supports the rights of people who are.
  • A: ally
    An ally is someone who identifies as heterosexual (also known as straight) but supports the LGBTQAAI community.

The LGBTQ community

There are many places for LGBTQ people to find support and make friends. Each city has groups, centers, parties, and even LGBTQ businesses. LGBTQ centers have resources and organize trans groups and events.

For young people

LGBTQ young people can visit TrevorSpace. This is run by the Trevor Project, an organization for LGBTQ youth. TrevorSpace is a monitored site for young people to connect with LGBTQ people in their community.

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For transgender people

To find trans groups in your area, you can use Facebook or Google. Many groups are on Facebook. To look for groups online, use the words “trans” or “queer exchange”  together with the name of your city or a nearby larger city. 

Transgender people have some different experiences than lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

LGBTQ rights and laws

There are laws that prevent discrimination against LGBTQ people. Discrimination is hurtful language or behavior. Each state has its own laws and it is important to learn the laws in your city or town.

Pride Month

Every June, the LGBTQ community celebrates their achievements and history.