Rainbow People Celebrating 50 Years Of Stonewall

Lesbian Gay Pride badge, 1979, USA. Lesbian Gay Pride badge, 1979, USA. TRC 2019.1623

2. What does LGBTQ+ Mean?

The term LGBTQ+ refers to a wide range of gender identities and sexual orientations. L stands for lesbian, women who are primarily attracted to other women. G refers to gay, or men who are attracted to other men (throughout the 1960s and earlier, gay was slang for any homosexual, whether a man or a woman). B stands for bisexual, people who are attracted to both women and men. T refers to transgender, people who were assigned one gender at birth but who identify as a different gender. Q stands for queer, once an insult for homosexuals but now an accepted and inclusive term that covers many different identities. Q also refers to questioning, for people who are exploring or questioning their gender and/or sexual identity.

Rainbow flags on Zeedijk, Amsterdam. Photo: S. AndersonThe terms LGBTQIA and LGBTQIAP+ are also used. The I refers to intersex, people whose biological sex is difficult or impossible to determine at birth; it may also refer to inquiring, someone who is exploring their sexual and gender identities. A refers to asexual; and P to pansexual.

Some people prefer another term: LGBQT2. The 2 refers to two-spirit (one person with both a masculine and feminine spirit), a word used first in the late 1980s by North American Indian activists to describe Native lesbians and gays (click here and, for more more nuanced explanation, here).

Sometimes the words “non-binary”, “gender fluid” and/or “gender-nonconforming” are added to these terms, in order to include people who do not identify with or who feel restricted by mainstream ideas about gender. The term LGBTQ+ has been chosen for simplicity’s sake in this digital exhibition, with the plus sign symbolizing inclusivity.

Browse through the exhibition: « 1. The beginning 3. Rainbow colours »