What LGBTQA+ Means & Why We Need It

by Megan Grant

The acronym "LGBT" has long been used to refer to the huge number of sexual orientations and gender identities that don't fall under the hetero- and cis-normative umbrella that society insists on viewing as humanity's default setting. In recent years, though, the preferred acronym has been undergoing some changes, expanding to "LGBTQA+." However, while most people are familiar with what each of the letters in LGBT stands for — lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans — not everyone knows what LGBTQA+ means.

Why is the expansion of the acronym necessary? For one simple reason: Although LGBT has become a widely accepted name for the non-heterosexual and non-cisgender communities, it still excludes a lot of people. "Not straight" doesn't necessarily mean lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The spectrum of gender and sexuality is an endlessly diverse one, and adding the "QA+" acknowledges not just queer/questioning and asexual people (the Q and the A, respectively), but any other identity a person might have (the +). It's a wonderfully positive step forward for inclusion, as it serves to educate the public and counter the belief that heterosexuality is the norm to which everything else should be compared.

In a community that is striving for representation and equality, it's very clear that visibility is essential for acceptance. While "LGBT" has certainly brought a voice to an oppressed group of people, it would be rather counterintuitive to continue excluding such a great variety of other genders and sexualities, like bigender, polyamorous, and gender variant people (just to name a few). If the end goal is the acceptance of all, no one should be left behind. Acknowledging such a beautifully diverse spectrum of people is one of the best ways to open the discussion of gender and sexuality, address how fluid they really are, and work to remove persistent stigmas and stereotypes. And when you realize how many different types of gender and sexuality there are out there, it puts into perspective how limiting the traditional LGBT acronym is.

Bustle went out on the town to see what people already know about these two acronyms, and how they feel about the push to accept formerly excluded people. Why do we need the QA+? How will it help the community? Catch the full video below!