Helpful Information

The LGBTQ community is thriving group. Estimates for 2011 indicate that over 9 million American adults identify as LGBTQ. They represent diverse ages, racial/ethnic backgrounds, religious convictions, and belief systems, as do their allies.

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Helpful Terminology

  • Ally: An "ally" is an individual who is supportive of the LGBTQ community.
  • Gender: An individual's socially constructed identity as man or woman.
  • LGBTQ: "LGBTQ" is an acronym that originated in the 1990s and replaced what was formerly known as "the gay community." The acronymn was created to be more inclusive of diverse groups. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (and/or questioning) individuals/identities.
    • Lesbian: An individual who identifies as a woman and who is predominantly sexually and romantically attracted to other women.
    • Gay: An individual who identifies as a man and who is predominantly sexually and romantically attracted to other men.
    • Bisexual: An individual who is sexually and romantically attracted to men and women.
    • Transgender: An individual who identifies as the opposite sex from the sexual genitalia that he/she was born with.
    • Queer: An individual who does not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender but feels more comfortable identifying as "queer," which is commonly thought of as a term that is fluid and inclusive of diverse sexual orientations and/or gender identities.
    • Questioning: An individual who is unsure about his/her sexual orientation and/or gender identity and prefers to identify as "questioning" rather than adhering to a label that does not designate how he/she feels.
  • Sex: Designation of male/female based on biological characteristics.
  • Sexual Orientation: A label used to designate an individual's desire for intimate, emotional and/or sexual relationships with people of the same gender/sex, another gender/sex, or multiple genders/sexes.
  • Sexuality: A person’s exploration of sexual acts, sexual orientation, sexual pleasure, and desire.

Several versions of acronyms have been created to represent lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning individuals and their allies. If letters for all groups are included, these acronyms can become quite lengthy and cumbersome. As a result, most opt for the frequently used theoretical grouping of “LGBTQ” into a single acronym. Even so, there is some support for including as many groups as possible within the acronym.

However, there is some debate about whether or not all of these groups of individuals should be included together in one acronym since they each may face different issues and have different concerns. Others suggest that solidarity is important. Furthermore, there is debate about which group should be represented first, such as in the case of LGBTQ vs. GLBTQ.

While there are certainly debates about which acronym is most appropriate, The Welcoming Project uses the LGBTQ acronym since it is easily recognized as representative of diversity. While we acknowledge that some groups are not represented in this acronym, we want to stress that The Welcoming Project is supportive of all persons. Our vision of "all are welcome" is intended to be supportive of all groups.

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