What’s in an acronym? Parsing the LGBTQQIP2SAA community

11 Jul

Trying to cover everyone

Every few months another online debate flares up about exactly what the LGBT community should call itself. Generally speaking, most people default to LGBT (or GLBT, with a slight majority favoring the L-first version). This explicitly calls out key components of a diverse group: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender. As shorthand goes, it’s fairly effective, recognizing the spectrum of sexual orientation and gender identity in four simple letters. Of course, it can’t please everyone, and like most compromises, leaves plenty of people feeling unheard.

Four other forms of shorthand see frequent use in the media and on the Internet. Many people opt simply for “gay.” Unfortunately, that leaves out any aspect of the community that doesn’t identify explicitly with same-sex attraction. It also traditionally applies to men, resulting in sexist language, however unintentional.

Opponents of the community typically use “the homosexual community” which manages to be gender neutral but also leaves out significant populations (although those populations may be just as happy not to get attention from these groups.) The more academic term “sexual minorities” is also used. Although this has broader meaning it also draws focus to the word “sexual,” avoidance of which resulted in the use of the word “gay” in the first place. Members of the LGBT community don’t want to be defined strictly by possible behavior, but as complex, fully realized human beings. In an America with a strong puritanical streak – even today – the word “sexual” still has too much power to stigmatize.

Many activists have reclaimed the word “queer” as a preferred descriptor. Taking back the word from the bullies and foes is a way to regain power. This is much like Bitch magazine co-opting a frequent slur as a way to raise feminist activists above their oppressors. For many, however, the scars from being called “queer” are too deep and too fresh to choose it as an identity. So what’s a diverse, inclusion-inclined community to do?

Over time, a number of other additions have been suggested to the LGBT acronym. The most common is Q, signifying “questioning” to recognize that many people are uncertain about their sexual orientation or gender identity (or both). Some also use the Q for queer. At full throttle, the letters wind up something like LGBTQQIP2SAA – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,

  • Two Q’s to cover both bases (queer and questioning);
  • I for Intersex, people with two sets of genitalia or various chromosomal differences;
  • P for Pansexual, people who refuse to be pinned down on the Kinsey scale;
  • 2S for Two-Spirit, a tradition in many First Nations that considers sexual minorities to have both male and female spirits;
  • A for Asexual, people who do not identify with any orientation; and
  • A for Allies, recognizing that the community thrives best with loving supporters, although they are not really part of the community itself.

That manages to be pretty inclusive, but it’s also pretty unwieldy.

Labels are tricky things. Most oppressed and minority communities have struggled with finding a descriptor that they feel embraces them and that they can embrace. The evolution of Negro to Colored to Black to African-American shows a clear transition from outside labels to a community claiming its own identity, although many with the community object to African-American. The journey from Indians to Native Americans to First Nations is similar, with many outside the community being unfamiliar with the latter designation. The transition from handicapped to disabled was successful (and codified in law) but the attempt to destigmatize to “differently abled” was just too awkward to find common usage.

It’s that kind of awkwardness that stymies the best attempts to find the magic LGBT label. The problem stems from the best of intentions, inclusion. People are complex, with multiple identities. Everyone has a sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion (or lack thereof), ethnicity, and many other components. It’s laudable for the LGBT community to recognize that there is strength in working together and to try to find a descriptor that shows that intent. In the long run, the intent matters more than the label. Rather than take umbrage at a less than fully inclusive LGBTQ – which at least shows good intent – let’s focus on the work we need to do together to make this a better place for everyone.

93 Responses to “What’s in an acronym? Parsing the LGBTQQIP2SAA community”

  1. Christine Noble July 11, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    Well, I’m pan, but LGBTQ works just fine for me. Also, there is a quiet movement among us to start using the term “trans*” with the asterisk denoting we include two spirits, intersexed, gender queer and anyone else that does not fit neatly into the gender binary. So I think, in that respect, many of those communities still fit under the “T.”

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt July 11, 2012 at 7:20 am #

      Thanks, Christine. I hadn’t encountered TRANS* yet. That’s a nice way to be inclusive. I hope my casual definitiion of pan met your expectations.

      • Christine Noble July 11, 2012 at 7:32 am #

        It is a perfectly accurate definition.😀

  2. prideinmadness July 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    I remember trying to say the acronym in my Critical Practice Approaches with the Queer Population class….it was a disaster…took forever….

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt July 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      So true!😉 It’s a shame there isn’t a version that’s at least pronounceable. That might give us something clear to settle for.

      • prideinmadness July 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

        I posted about QUILT BAG a few months back. But who wants to say the Quilt bag community?😛

  3. Jay July 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    I hope your argument in favor of simple old GLBT and/or LGBT doesn’t earn you a glitter-bombing. Urging umbrage avoidance is sensible, but self-righteousness is too much fun to ever be eradicated.

    I kind of prefer a rainbow flag to any acronym–the full spectrum of visual light is a nice metaphor for human sexual and gender diversity (and is even subtly humble, since visual light is such a tiny slice of the EM spectrum), but widespread adoption of a rainbow hotkey isn’t likely to gain traction anytime soon.

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt July 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

      Ah, and if we could but exude rainbow without words or letters we’d be set.🙂
      Thanks for the kind words and wise observations. No glitter yet…

    • Twixy April 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

      Asexual (to me) means no SEXUAL attraction, so someone can be attracted to people in a romantic way.
      As in: Biromantic (BI) Asexual, Heteroromantic Asexual, Panromantic Asexual.
      To me being Asexual means not having physical (sexual) attraction to people but you can experience romantic attraction

  4. Ray April 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Personally I don’t think “asexual” means what you wrote it means but if it were then your statement later on “Everyone has a sexual orientation” confuses me. Do you believe everyone has a sexual orientation because you choose one for them or they choose one themselves? Because, I don’t have a sexual orientation because I simply choose not to label myself sexually.

    • Tori August 28, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      I agree; this definition of asexuality doesn’t really make sense. I consider myself asexual, not because I don’t identify with an orientation but because I’m just not attracted to anyone sexually. By those in the community, asexuality is considered an orientation in it’s own right.

      • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt August 28, 2013 at 10:46 am #

        I see your point, Tori. The definition really should read “no attraction” rather than no orientation. Thanks for the clarification.

    • Peter November 27, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

      Ray, having a sexual orientation isn’t labelling. If you have light hair, you’re blond, if it’s red – you’re a red head. The same goes for your body type, skin colour, nationality, and on and on. You may not want to “label” yourself, but that is not the world we live in. If you consider yourself to be a “human being”, you’ve already labelled yourself apart from other animal species.

    • Peter November 27, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

      I should correct myself. Having a sexual orientation isn’t labelling in a negative way. Instead it’s belonging to a certain group rather than another by a process of elimination.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 28, 2014 at 7:52 am #

        Peter, thank you for commenting here. Yes, the moniker of LGBTQ is simply a way to share membership identity and at the same time hopefully show solidarity in being visible.

  5. thesebrokenlegz September 4, 2013 at 1:39 am #

    I really enjoyed this post a lot🙂 So much so in fact that I included a link to it in a post that I wrote here: http://wp.me/p3fdnz-7r I hope you’ll go and check it out because it was really awesome to come across someone who shared a similar thought with me.🙂
    I really agree that the amount of letters in the acronym don’t matter so much as what the acronym represents and the sense of inclusiveness its trying to give to everyone.

  6. Lucie January 31, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    I see the P for Pansexual, but what about Polysexuals and Polyamorous, there should really be two more P’s.

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt February 1, 2014 at 8:29 am #

      Thank you for your observations. As I mentioned in the original post, total inclusiveness is pretty difficult, if not impossible. That acronym gets very unwieldy and someone still gets left out…

    • Peter November 28, 2014 at 9:12 am #

      Lucie, Polysexual is the same as Pansexual. Unless you can tell me how it differs. And Polyamorous means you want to have sex or be in a relationship with many people at the same time. You can be polyamorous and be gay, bi or straight. They are not mutually exclusive. Just like you can be a woman and have blue eyes. We should really stop just picking a word out of a hat and say “here, add another letter”. I mean, come on…

      • Kriss December 10, 2014 at 8:29 am #

        Polysexual is the attraction to most but not all genders or sexes. Pansexual is the attraction to all genders and sexes. Personally, as a polysexual person, I am attracted to women, trans guys, and non binary people who have vaginas. Not trans women, nb people with a penis, or men. also, as a non binary person, I am not comfortable with any of the gendered sexualities like lesbian or gay because what is the same gender as ,e. No one, I’m my own

      • Nancy September 22, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

        I am 60 years old and I really do not care what one’s orientation or sexual desires are. I agree that naming something for inclusion/solidarity is a good idea, and needs to be done for all sorts of reasons. But really, does it have to be so confusing? I have a few trans. friends, I call them by their names and don’t want to even think I understand what they have and are going through. Labeling is just that, a label. Too bad we all have to label everything in order to get what we deserve, like health care……..

  7. Emma Taylor February 5, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Try using GSM (Gender Sexuality Minority). It encompasses everyone, and avoids mislabeling🙂

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt February 5, 2014 at 10:51 am #

      That’s an interesting suggestion, Emma. I like the elegant simplicity. It does sound a bit sterile, but that’s the risk of shoving a diverse group into a convenient box…

  8. Mome February 18, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    this was an interesting article, as i was trying to find the complete and correct version of the acronym. i also noticed the incorrect definition of asexual, but that’s been pointed out. i wish and hope that queer or some other umbrella term can come to represent everyone in an inoffensive way, because i’ll personally struggle to be able to remember this ever-growing sequence of letters.
    my only objection to the increasing inclusion is the second “a”– allies. though they are an important factor in queer rights, they seem to want too much recognition for being decent human beings (similar to non-racist whites in the USA; or feminist men, who are practically worshiped by liberal society). having “a” stand for allies makes them seem like part of the community, which is actually pretty bad when the following is considered: being non-misogynistic doesn’t make someone a woman; advocating for animal rights doesn’t make someone an abused dog; being an environmentalist doesn’t make me an ecosystem; etc. cishet allies in the acronym 1) take attention/validation of asexuals away, 2) essentially don’t belong for their lack of oppression. of course this is only my opinion, and i say so with the utmost respect of every unbigoted queer advocate.

    • jenny April 29, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

      I agree 100%. Allies should not be in the acronym. They’re not oppressed. They’re not one of us. What- we should give them an ‘A’ so they can pat themselves on the back for not being homophobic? To ‘honour’ them??? Seriously??? Sometimes ‘allies’ do the most queerphobic things of them all without even realising it, and thinking they can muscle in on our community identity is one of those things. And I can say that because I have friends who are ‘allies’.😉

      • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt April 29, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

        You both make good points regarding the inclusion of allies in the acronym. There is a fundamental difference between standing in solidarity with and being a member of any community. I included “A” for allies in the post because it is so frequently used by the more exhaustive acronymers and one of my main points is the trickiness of inclusion.

        I would caution against discluding them because they can do harm, however. The extended LGBT… community is perfectly capable of harming its own. The “bisexuals just can’t make up their minds” meme and the exclusion of transgender issues for political expedience are two sad, frequent examples. Good allies should be willing to be challenged when they commit unintended trespass, but their good works and best efforts should be acknowledged gratefully.

      • Peter November 28, 2014 at 9:23 am #

        Robert, I just don’t see how Allies are part of this community. Or Asexuals. This is a community that fought for “gay rights”, if you remember. Asexuals don’t identify with any sexual orientation. Pansexuals apparently don’t see gender or sexuality. What does this have to do with gay right or the community? Why can’t people have different communities? There are so many people who don’t want to be identified as belonging to one of the two genders (male or female), or one of the three sexualities (gay, straight or bi) but they are perfectly fine claiming their letter in our community which basically promotes a monopoly on a group of people who are anything BUT straight. So there can only be two communities? Straight or C@<NPIOU^RG:OKSB"PDKBN… I don't understand that at all. Is it any wonder that all of these people cannot agree on anything? It's because we have nothing in common except for the fact that we don't exclusively sleep with the opposite sex.

      • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt November 28, 2014 at 11:09 am #

        Peter, if it isn’t clear from my comments above, I agree that allies — while important to any marginalized community — don’t belong in the acronym. I do think it important that we are clear that not including them is because they are not part of the community itself, but represent the dominant discourse. I listed their potential “A” in the original post to show just how far some people go when building an “inclusive” acronym.

        I strongly disagree tha we should leave out people who identify as asexual, pansexual, polyamorous, and so on.The struggle as I see it is to find a good way to represent the whole diverse group of people whose sexual orientation or gender identity / presentation fall outside the dominant discourse. We all benefit from working together as a community to make our voices heard.

    • Eclectic Crafter February 20, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

      Why would you disclude Allies inside of the Acronym just because your version of Oppression and bullying is toward those that are slightly different. The fact that we even have these names means that we should be including the people that help us out.

      Allies protect us and make themselves Extra targets for being Tolerant of us. Allies get bullied and oppressed, Secluded, and attacked because they defend us. A shield will be battered more than the wielder will. They help and protect us in our times of need. to exclude them is to disown them and say they are worthless. We need to be inclusive instead of trying to destroy and demean or exclude the people we can rely on the most. Just because they are ‘normal’ doesn’t mean they aren’t attacked.Get Your ACT Together.

      • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt February 20, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

        Please read the comments and my replies carefully. I am very grateful of the support of allies. Every marginalized group achieves at least some of its success from such caring people.

        My point (and the point of the other commenters, as I read it) is that to be an ally is to be inherently outside the community — to provide support DESPITE the lack of a shared orientation or identity. If the goal is to find a way to describe the community itself, that by definition excludes allies. They have the choice to stay outside or get involved; members of the community are involved whether they want to be or not.

        Saying that allies are outside the community they support does nothing to diminish their humanity, worth, or contribution. If anything, it it shines a bright light on the need for those who provide aid and support — often with some risk — because they feel it is right.

  9. Alex April 17, 2014 at 6:13 am #

    I am pansexual and I find the definition on here quite offensive.

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt April 17, 2014 at 6:55 am #

      The definition in this post came from a pansexual resource and is included to show the complexity of sexual orientation. If you have a preferred definition or a clarification, please feel free to share it in this thread to enrich everyone’s understanding.

    • Peter November 28, 2014 at 8:14 am #

      What is pansexual, Alex? Please let us know how you define it.

  10. A July 21, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    Mogii is a good alternative that many use!
    Marginalized Orientations, Gender Identities, and Intersex

  11. Eric August 7, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Personally I think the acronym is more trouble than anything. Someone always has a complaint. They either complain its too long, or that there’s missing letters, or that its ordered wrong. I vote that we just use the catch-all term “sexual and gender minorities”. No one can complain then. And its more pronounceable.

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt August 7, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

      You make an interesting point. Sadly, as the original post, the comment thread, and your observations make clear, there is no option that pleases everybody. Many people are reluctant to self-identify as “minority.” Others dislike self-identifying with any variation of the word “sex” feeling that it minimizes the complexity of their identity. It’s tricky!

  12. Mark October 29, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    I am pansexual myself, hell even fluid works for me and I am fine with being called gay too – whatever, as long as people know I am not a damn heterosexual.

    Personally I am cool with “Queer” and with letting that term be our “mother ship” instead of LGBT or LGBTQ – I hate typing those letters when writing anyhow; I always mess them up and it causes me to slow down a great deal when typing. It’s actually getting pretty damn ridiculous now with everyone piling on letters to it, FFS leave it alone!

    Queer is easy and you almost never have to explain to people what that means — i.e.. they know queer means not straight. Hell queer even sounds better than anything else too. I mean gay was good but then all the lesbians got pissed and said what about us! LOL **teasing**

    I mean seriously, how many strangers or people you know (but don’t know how you define yourself) – how many of them would know what you meant if you said you were “fluid” or “pansexual”? I don’t want to school them on my meaning of the words for five minutes or more.

    Call us Queer and be done with it! It sounds good, it’s easy as hell to type, and nearly everyone knows it means “not straight” and technically in my opinion it actually is inclusive of everyone (except straights of course).

    And we already have so many cool slogans and we already paid the printers for all the signage and flyers and flags! 😀

    “We’re here! We’re QUEER! Get used to it!”


    Right Side Up

    on WordPress

    • Mark October 29, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

      Sorry, and let’s not forget we (the collective) already made great strides in reclaiming the word “queer” to meaning something positive and to be proud of!

      I don’t think the word “queer” carries anywhere near as much weight as it used to when it was used as a derogative slur against homosexuals in the past.

      Being called Queer is a good thing now and we should own it!

      • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt October 30, 2014 at 6:13 am #

        Thanks for your comments, Mark. I appreciate your candor when discussing your own identity.
        Unfortunately, not everyone can embrace the word “queer.” I personally have a pretty visceral reaction to it based on how it was used against me for so many years. Reclaiming is a powerful thing, but not a tool everyone can use, and that’s something we need to respect.

      • Mark October 30, 2014 at 6:16 am #

        Well, can we at least agree the acronym LGBTQ et al is getting out of hand? Geesh! lol

        We need something better and as you said up above on someone else’s suggestion – GSM sounds very sterile and just another “term” we’d have to stop and explain anytime someone asked.

  13. Peter November 27, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    I’m going to repost my comment from a different discussion regarding the replacement of the LGBTetc to GSD or otherwise. …

    “I wanted to come back to the fact the community was called LGBT from the beginning. That included everyone who was in the community at that time. Did we get new members? Did the community expand? No disrespect to anyone, but are we pretty much including anyone that does not identify as a Straight Man or a Straight Woman? This seems a little hostile from the get-go. Kind of sounds like the “minority” term should now be applied to them. Can’t there be a separate community of people who identify themselves as someone who is neither Straight nor LGBT? Like a community of LGBT allies. We welcome them in our community, but are they really technically part of it? Communities can co-exist, but why expand ours to the point where there is nothing that connects us within said community other than the fact that we are not Heterosexual? No wonder we can’t agree.”

  14. Peter November 28, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    Regarding the Q for Queer or Questioning. Correct me if I’m wrong but Queer equals Gay, so let’s get that out of the way. And Questioning? Who isn’t at one point? I don’t think we need to create a community around people who are “questioning”. I questioned my sexuality for a few years, and then I identified as gay. Others will identify as Bi, or Trans or Asexual, or, apparently, Pansexual. Questioning is a temporary state. If you haven’t identified yourself as something out of the LGBTQPRGSTBLTNBC menu after a couple of years, then you need a good therapist, not a letter in a community.

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt November 28, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      Thank for your several thoughtful comments on this thread, Peter. The tension around the word “Queer” is a great example of how tricky the acronym is. The people that I know who identify as Queer would not agree that it simply equates to “Gay” rather that it identifies a worldview which incorporates sexual orientation.

      As for questioning, I do think it’s important to make space for people who are exploring who they are. This includes those whose sexuality is fluid as well as those who are grappling with their identity and orientation. However long that questioning lasts, it’s important to acknowledge that it is an critical part of the journey for many people.

  15. guy December 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    Please don’t include allies in LGBTQIA+. They are not queer. They just aren’t douchebags.

  16. Rebecca February 4, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    A is for asexual, somebody who does not feel sexual attraction (this is a spectrum), and for aromantic, somebody who does not feel romantic attraction. One can be heteroromantic but asexual, or homosexual and aromantic, or any combination thereof.

  17. Adrian April 5, 2015 at 7:39 pm #


  18. Emil Kieran April 17, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    I often use LGBTQ+ as an all-inclusive term for the community.

  19. MrsJDahmer April 22, 2015 at 4:17 am #

    I personally think, instead of adding more and more letters to include everyone, why not just say ‘non- heterosexual’? I think then you basically will cover all bases that way and i don’t see how anyone could feel excluded.

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt April 22, 2015 at 6:30 am #

      Thank you for your thoughts on this. Unfortunately, identifying something in the negative (i.e., “non” something) is another way of othering or marginalizing people. Think about the implications of “non-white” or “non-Christian”, for example. “Non-heterosexual” also narrows the focus to sexual orientation, leaving out gender identity for example, thus eliminating the inclusiveness that the big ol’ acronym attepts to create.

  20. cftxp July 26, 2015 at 1:14 am #

    I know this is probably a way late reply, but has anyone mentioned the MOGAI label? The acronym, which stands for marginalized orientations, gender alignments, and intersex, is one that does encompass the entire community as well. However, I personally like using the term “MOGAI+” since there are some in our community who may still feel excluded due to this definition as well as simultaneously adding our valuable allies in some sense. I usually, for my own purposes, gravitate towards the use of the “LGBT” or “LGBTQ” terms as that’s what most people are familiar with when it comes to variances in sexual orientation or gender identity but I like the term due to the fact that “MOGAI” is easy to pronounce and is very inclusive, even the words for which the acronym stands for is direct. The only issue may come when we finally aren’t viewed as marginalized but, unfortunately, that may not happen soon enough.


    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt July 26, 2015 at 7:48 am #

      Thanks for your thoughts, Chris. It’s never too late to contribute to this rich conversation! “MOGAI” (or “MOGII” as I have also seen it) is an interesting alternative. The biggest challenge for me is in embracing the concept of “marginalized”. I certainly know that it’s a truth, but I don’t feel like labelling myself with it, especially when I’m trying to feel empowered within my identity. Everyone comes at this with their own intentions, but that’s how it sits with me.

  21. Jonathan Wells September 5, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    I’m also late to this interesting discussion. This just came up at my workplace, where we publish a list of meetings for the general public, some of which are for LGBTQ people. For years, the only designation we had was “Gay” and recently switched over to using LGBTQ to be more inclusive. This has caused some confusion for people not familiar with this designation. It seems with every attempt to include people in a designation, you end up excluding someone. There’s always some kind of binary created, and no matter how many different types of “alternative” sexuality and gender identities we include, we are still creating a distinction from heterosexuality, hence a binary. We become, once again, the “everyone else” to heterosexual society. The fundamental problem seems to be with our discomfort with the idea of difference. I think of every individual as completely different from every other, entirely unique. There may be areas of overlap, but to imagine and name a group of people, let alone a community, based on shared “sexual minority” status, seems absurd, when other factors like race, gender, nationality, class, age and ability level play as important a role in defining us as individuals. What never ceases to amaze be is when people who otherwise might never associate, come together when something causes them to recognize their mutuality, around something like illness, or addiction, or hardship of any kind. I guess I simply don’t like labels, and see them as creating more distance between human beings, and less commonality, by their inherent exclusivity. They can only ever function as a kind of shorthand. A person’s definition of themselves is entirely up to them to create, and no label can replace the diversity of lived experience.

    • thomas.swart@ge.com September 10, 2015 at 8:33 am #

      Why not “F” for friends?

      • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt September 10, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

        Interesting suggestion, but please take a look at the comments thread for the discussion of including “Allies”. I think it applies pretty well to “Friends”. Recognizing supporters from outside is wonderful; including them in a descriptor seems a bit off the mark.

      • thomas.swart@ge.com September 28, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

        Thinking about “F” for friends, that could cause other issues, but Friends and Allies must be included! Without Friends and Allies, we don’t have a chance. How about including “F” and “A” and move “G” to the end.
        BLTQFAG it is! and will be the official name of the Tom Swart Chapter! I am so proud to be the head of the BLTQFAG’s tribe.
        I can even add it to our menu as a sandwich! How creative can i get?? Impressive if I may say so!
        Lets go all BLTQFAG’s and be strong!!!

      • joe October 6, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

        Someone earlier mentioned adding + to be more inclusive. Personally I’m not opposed to non-heterosexual, but why not just use the term + for anyone that doesn’t consider themselves Hetero.

        Isn’t it interesting that Hetero comes from Greek, meaning “other”?

        On that note, why not Hetero and Other. Or the Latin “Allius” so you are either Hetero or Allius?

        Just ideas. . .

  22. Kristy October 24, 2015 at 8:16 am #

    No no no no no no no no no no A does not and never has stood for allies. Allies are great they support LGBT+ but they are NOT LGBT+. A stands for asexual and aromantic.

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt October 24, 2015 at 8:35 am #

      Thanks for your comment. As I pointed out in the article, one of the challenges with this acronym is how many different opinions — frequently passionately held — inform it. You’ll note in the comment thread that there are strong opinions on both sides of the “allies” debate.

      • thomas.swart@ge.com October 26, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

        Ok…so BLTFAG’s did not go over very well at our first tribe meeting. I have been ousted as a leader of my own chapter! How can we argue over a name to call ourselves? I have not been this upset since I had a horrible case of hemorrhoids right before our chapter’s last rave! Although having some speed bumps was not the worst thing in the world.

        This is just crazy. We have enough problems and now “A” can never stand for allies? Really?

        Why NOT Kristy? And who made you Queen? I should know who a Queen is! And you are not my Queen!

        Screw all this alphabet stuff for our name. Maybe we should just get a symbol like Prince. Who can argue with a symbol? Probably that b*** Kristy, but besides her, who would complain?

  23. Ember Quill November 20, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    The list of identities that fall under the LGBTQQIP2SAA+ umbrella is so long that the list of identities NOT included is actually shorter. By a huge margin. In fact, the only gender/sexual identity not included is “cisgendered heterosexual”. So wouldn’t it be easier to define it as what it’s not? To borrow an acronym from tumblr (at least, I think that’s where it originated), maybe “non-cishet” would work.

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt November 21, 2015 at 8:40 am #

      Thanks for your comment. As the original post and wide variety of responses demonstrate, finding a snappy, satisfying label for a diverse group is tricky at best.
      I have two concerns with “non-cishet”. First, defining things in the negative is inherently marginalizing (see my reply to MrsJDahmer above). Second, there are many people who “het” but “non-cis” or “cis” but “non-het” so the binary breaks down pretty fast.

  24. Chuck February 4, 2016 at 8:02 pm #

    I think a big part of the problem here is confusing sexual attraction with gender identity. Lesbian, Gay, Bi is sexual orientation/attraction, while Transexual, Androgynous and Queer is gender identity.

    As for Pan, Poly, Omni, Ambi sexual they fall easily under the Bi orientation/attraction.

    Asexual is not sexually attracted to anyone, but still have either a cisgender or transgender identity. Why asexual is even considered here is beyond me. I don’t know of anyone in history that was ever discriminated against for not having a libido. For me asexual is like calling atheism a religion.

    All of these groupings fall into even larger groupings of Cisgender and Transgender.

  25. Ron February 21, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

    Forgive me if this is an ignorant question, but I am a little puzzled by the inclusion of both “Lesbian” and “Gay” in the LGBT acronym. I had learned that Gay referred to people of either gender that were attracted to people of the same sex. But the inclusion of Lesbian in the acronym implies that Gay refers to just men. Have I had it wrong all these years?

    I’m sure that by asking this question I reveal that I’m heterosexual. I do fully support inclusion, and would like to be at least aware of the conversation. I encounter the LGBT acronym more frequently these past few years, most recently while reviewing the non-discrimination policy at my work. I’d be thankful for any perspectives regarding the use of these two terms. Wikipedia wasn’t all that much help🙂

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt February 21, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

      Thanks for your comment and question, Ron. As I’ve tried to show in the article, full inclusion is tricky at best. Using both “L” and “G” captures two of the most common ways that sexual minorities address ourselves. I hope that helps.

  26. queertasticblog March 27, 2016 at 4:08 am #

    Loved reading this, I proudly identify as the “B” in LGBTQ+, which is the acronym I use because that “+” seems to be a safe way to include everyone, lol. Awesome article🙂

  27. Gregory April 6, 2016 at 1:31 am #

    Wow, July 11, 2012 is the first comment to this article and prior to my comment March 27, 2016. So here I am April 6, 2016 just reading the article for the first time. I’m in the unenviable position of running a home care agency and wanting to know the best term to use not only when talking to people but also in written communication. So Dr Google I did search. I recently used the LGBTQI and I had other people asking me, ‘don’t you mean LGBTI?’. So I thought I better get clear on this. I liked the final A, ‘Allies’ as that sort of fits me but I’m not fussed if it is ever adopted or not. In fact I think it has become a bit silly to be honest.

    It is a sensitive topic and you don’t want to upset anyone so I’m really appreciative of the original author whom I can’t see their name. I really loved the historical input about terms used for other minorities.

    I used to ride motorbikes, now I just love watching MotoGP and other forms of motorcycle road racing and thought that the only alternative to ‘biker’ (which sort of holds negative connotations) is ‘biker’. I mean there are lots of different types of ‘bikers’ (certainly a minority group) Is it because the LGBTI community is referenced around the ‘SEX’ word that requires so much debate?

    If the ‘queer’ community did feel like that term was reclaimed and gave them the power back why all the fuss about these new terms that no-one seems to be able to agree with. I mean we’ll all be dead and we’re still arguing about what word to use.

    Greg M
    Proud member of the LGBTQQIP2AA and any other letters that eventually appear alogside family

    • thomas.swart@ge.com April 30, 2016 at 6:55 am #

      This is just crazy. We have a difficult enough time as it is with the hetros accepting us and we cannot even agree on a name. I suggested a simple symbol like Prince and now that it is free, let’s just take that symbol!!

  28. william beggs April 30, 2016 at 8:06 am #

    I prefer two spirit. Does that stigmatise the free spirits amongst us?

  29. Alex the queer May 20, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    The other a stands for agender. Not allies.

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt May 20, 2016 at 10:56 am #

      Thanks for pointing out another term. As you’ll note from the original post and the many comments, the challenge is that any given letter MIGHT stand for a variety of things and no string of letters can ever by comprehesively inclusive.

  30. deanaxeman September 1, 2016 at 2:29 am #


  31. Joe September 24, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    We need an s for straight

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt September 25, 2016 at 8:17 am #

      No, you don’t. The whole point is to represent a complex group of marginalized people. Comments like yours underscore how vital it is for those of us outside the dominant discourse to find our voices in solidarity.

  32. Peggy Hamburg September 28, 2016 at 9:32 am #

    In a desire to accept people for who they are I don’t want to lower people to only identifying them by their sexual identify. As more and more “letters” are added to the list of identity it seems to have become more difficult to learn all the nuances of how people see themselves. I understand that each group wants to be understood as who they are, yet I want to know people, not their preferences as their identity. What is your gentle comment on how to do this respectfully? Since I offer no disrespect or hostility I ask that you please respond in kind.

    • Robert Hulshof-Schmidt September 28, 2016 at 11:35 am #

      Thank you for your comment, Peggy, and your clear efforts to understand these issues from the outside. First, please refrain from using the word “preferences”. Sexual orientation and gender identity ARE intrinsic to who a person is. If, as you say, you want to “know people”, you need to appreciate their complex identities. Respecting the ways in which LGBTQ people identify themselves absolutely does not “lower” them. Understanding are respecting who we are enriches your experience.
      I certainly agree that the proliferation of letters in the acronym can be challenging (that’s a central point of my post), but realizing that a broad term like “sexual minoriites” contains multitudes is important. The nuances matter, since they are part of our humanity.


  1. We Give A Fuck: A New Take on the LGBTTQQIIAA Acronymn | Sex Drugs and Religious Sacrifices - September 3, 2013

    […] sister wrote on her tumblr that I feel should be shared with the world. There is also another post here that discusses a similar idea. I figured I would share it with you guys because, like I said, […]

  2. Language Matters | Citizens Project - February 20, 2014

    […] with little fanfare, it’s one of our most interesting acronyms from a historical standpoint and it continues to evolve. Over the last decade or so, individuals who do not feel the standard acronym represents their […]

  3. Bibliography | Sex & Sexuality - March 25, 2014

    […] Hulshof-Schmidt, M. (, July 11). [Web log message]. Retrieved from https://hulshofschmidt.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/whats-in-an-acronym-parsing-the-lgbtqqip2saa-communit&#8230; […]

  4. What’s In An Acronym? | Women's Campaign Liberation Handbook* - October 25, 2014

    […] hulshofschmidt […]

  5. My Too Incensed Two Cents: Rachel and Caitlyn | Arguments In My Head - June 19, 2015

    […] How obvious is it that in the context of the Dolezal story, people are using the familiar concept of transgender people to explain this case, involving race? What word are we supposed to use to express someone who was originally one race but now identifies as another? Don’t suggest that it’s too specific to need its own term- the LGBT acronym is now long enough to have numbers in it. […]

  6. On Politics and Parades | SMU Adventures - July 15, 2015

    […] is a shorter version of LGBTQQIP2SAA, which is pretty inclusive of the general labels out there.  (This post on the Social Justice for All blog does a good job of identifying, and explaining, all of the […]

  7. Is Gender a Dirty Word? | Off The Porch - July 30, 2015

    […] you don’t immediately hop on board, you are the enemy. I mean look at the gay lesbian  and LGBTQQIP2SAA communit[ies] who struggle with identity every new generation. Of course, we give in because we […]

  8. Modern-day Pharisees - The Progressive Redneck - September 21, 2015

    […] just don’t get all this bigotry against people who are LGBTQQIP2SAA (explanatory link included for all the troglodytes who can’t keep up with this ever-changing […]

  9. My Too Incensed Two Cents: Rachel and Caitlyn | Things In My Head - November 27, 2015

    […] How obvious is it that in the context of the Dolezal story, people are using the familiar concept of transgender people to explain this case, involving race? What word are we supposed to use to express someone who was originally one race but now identifies as another? Don’t suggest that it’s too specific to need its own term- the LGBT acronym is now long enough to have numbers in it. […]

  10. Is Gender a Dirty Word? - February 27, 2016

    […] is if you don’t immediately hop on board, you are the enemy. I mean look at the gay lesbian  and LGBTQQIP2SAA communit[ies] who struggle with identity every new generation. Of course, we give in because we […]

  11. Why St. Louis drafting Michael Sam turns Missouri law upside-down | @ZachASports - April 21, 2016

    […] Sam‘s impact on both the LGBTQQIP2SAA and NFL communities cannot be overlooked and Missouri law will be under fire, especially if Sam […]

  12. Dear Homosexuals | The Z Blog - June 17, 2016

    […] the problem, of course. For the last few decades, you guys in the Alphabet Soup Community (LGBTQQIP2SAA? Really?) have not been holding up your end of the bargain. Instead of respecting the sensibilities […]

  13. The Sex, the Gender and Sexuality. | The Teen's Digest - August 2, 2016

    […] Allies: recognising that the community thrives best with loving supporters, although they are not really part of the community itself. (7) […]

  14. Look, this is a question we need to ask ourselves | Me + Richard Armitage - August 27, 2016

    […] gender ambiguous, transgender people — those who fall into the categories grouped around LGBTTQQIAAP. I overhear conversations all the time in public places that suggest that very little has changed […]

  15. California Legislative Spending Rampage Continues – KATY GRIMES - September 23, 2016

    […] Lara, an openly gay activist, claims religious universities practice discrimination againstLGBTQQIP2SAA. “All students deserve to feel safe in institutions of higher education, regardless of whether […]

  16. Brampton man challenging Canada's gay blood donation ban - September 23, 2016

    […] bans continue to stigmatise donors particularly LGBTTIQQ2SA people, we’re hoping we can put a stop to this,” says […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: