What is LGBTQIA+?

It stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual and plus + (encompassing other umbrella terms of sexual and gender identities, such as intersex, asexual, gender non-conforming etc.) This acronym surfaced around the 1980's as many people in the community believed that the term 'gay community' did not accurately represent all those to whom it referred. For more information, you can check out this glossary of terms

  • Lesbian: An identifying female who feels attracted to another female sexually and/or romantically.

  • Gay: An identifying male who feels attracted to another male sexually and/or romantically.

  • Bisexual: An identifying male/female who feels attracted to a male/female sexually and/or romantically.

  • Transgender: A person who doesn't identify with the gender assigned at birth and identifies with the opposite gender and/or within the gender spectrum.

  • Queer: An umbrella term for individuals who identify within the sexual and gender minority spectrum. It has a history of negative use as a degrading word about the community. Younger generations might use it as a term of empowerment, but there is not a consensus on its usage. Scholarly work related to LGBTQIA+ is often referred to as 'Queer Studies' for the purpose of inclusiveness.

  • Questioning: An individual who is uncertain of their gender or sexual identity where they are in the process of exploring who they are.

  • Intersex: People born with both sexual organs, chromosomes, and genitals often referred to as innersex or middlesex.

  • Asexual: Having a low level or no level of sexual attraction to others and a lack of interest in sex or sexual partners.

  • +: Umbrella term entailing other parts of sex and gender identities. For more information, you can check out this glossary of terms.

Key LGBTQIA+ Myth and Facts

Misconceptions about LGBTQIA+ individuals are out there and here's a list of myths and facts to inform the public. It is important that people from different backgrounds such as race, religion and beliefs can shape their idea of a community based on positive experiences and point of view rather than negative thoughts.

Sex and Gender

Sex: Refers to a person's biological status categorized as male, female or intersex such as physical and biological traits.

Gender: Refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person's biological sex, psychological behavioral, social and culture aspects of being male or female (i.e. masculinity or femininity)

The Gender Bread explains the spectrums of gender, sex, identity and attraction in a comprehensive manner.

  • Always ask for pronouns. Never assume someone's gender.
    • Masculine: He/Him/His
    • Feminine: She/Her/Hers
    • Gender Neutral: They/Them/Theirs

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Domestic/dating violence (DV) and sexual assault (SA) happen in the LGBTQIA+ community, as in any other group. DV/SA doesn't discriminate against socio-economic status or education level. When thinking of opposite-sex couples, males are typically seen as the perpetrator and females as the victim/survivor, based on statistics. And while statistics support this gender inequity, there are many males who are victims/survivors and many women who are perpetrators of violence. One in four people in a same-sex relationship will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, a similar rate to women in straight relationships. 

In gay relationships, are both females victims? Are both males perpetrators? Studies show that intimate partner violence in gay relationships does not always mirror what happens in straight relationships. Gender expression, toxic masculinity, bifurcated gender roles, and assumptions regarding gender and violence may contribute to differences.

The LGBTQIA+ Power and Control Wheel is a diagram that shows warning signs your abusive partner uses to keep the relationship together. The outer rings describe terms representing visible and physical violence while the outer rings demonstrate subtle terms representing visible and sets of behaviors used to retain power. The inside contains tactics used to maintain power and control. These feelings become normalized and it can be hard to distinguish a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy one. Knowing the signs can show a victim the vicious cycle and seek help.

Links to the wheel are provided in English and Spanish.

Dating Violence

Dating violence is defined as manipulative, coercive, and a vicious cycle of abuse. It includes emotional, physical, verbal, economical and sexual abuse or a combination.

Findings from recent research focusing on sexual minority youth (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning) suggest that LGBTQ teens experience dating violence at rates equal to or higher than their heterosexual peers according to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. Sexual minorities (SM) have increasingly higher rate of dating violence (DV) than their straight counterparts.

When you're in a romantic relationship, negative circumstances like DV/SA could trickle to every part of the relationship such as family, social, professional, and economical. Unhealthy habits that go without being addressed can be detrimental mentally and/or physical exhausting. Betrayal, isolation, jealousy, intensity, guilting, violating and sabotaging can be expressed through the course of the relationship and creates toxic environments. Knowing the signs can help someone get through difficult times.