With the passing of time, so many sexual identity and gender labels have changed. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the word LGBT started being used to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Now, ‘Q’ and ‘+’ have made their way to the scene as more and more people are finding the four letters not inclusive enough of the entire queer community. With these changes have come some confusion as to what the ‘Q’ and ‘+’ actually represent. This confusion is for good reason too as there is no official stance on what the ‘Q’ actually stands for!
What ‘Q’ Stands For
There are two commonly used words in relation to ‘Q’; Queer and questioning.
Queer is essentially an umbrella terms used to describe all of the letters (LGBT) and more. In fact, the reason Queer is making its way into the alphabet soup of letters (LGBT) is because it lacks a precise definition and label. Identifying as Queer could simply mean you don’t identify as heterosexual and/or cis-gender. This is perhaps why it’s so appealing to so many groups of people.
For instance, one of the groups ‘Queer’ appeals to is minority groups. Minority groups have an added layer of complexity to their sexuality and gender orientation as they interact with both racial and cultural issues and relating those issues to sexual orientation and gender identity. Another group that has been embracing the word ‘Queer’ is young people in high school and college.
Reclaiming the Word ‘Queer’
Although the term ‘Queer’ is now being used in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s also a known slur used against LGBTQ+ people. So, in one sense, ‘Queer’ is being reclaimed as the LGBTQ+ community use a word that was once used against them.
With that being said, there are still those within the LGBTQ+ community who find the word to be offensive, so it’s best if you only use it when someone has referred to themselves that way.
‘Q’ Is For Questioning
The second way ‘Q is used is to describe those who are questioning or exploring their gender or sexual identity. While ‘Queer’ is used more frequently than questioning, it is still a word that holds its own weight. If someone identifies as questioning it simply means they haven’t yet figured out how they want to identify.
What About That ‘+’
In addition to the ‘Q’ a ‘+’ sign is now frequently being used. The ‘+’ sign is used as “plus” in order to describe all the other gender and sexual orientations that don’t fit into the letters (LGBTQ+). So, for instance, intersex, asexual, aromantic, and pansexual are just a few other gender and sexual identities. There are dozens of other identities out there as well. So, the “+” represents the inclusivity of everyone regardless of their identifiers not fitting into the letters.
So there you have it. LGBTQ+ is just one set of initials that is continuing to evolve and change and shape the future of the Queer community, but at least you know the most current understanding of the acronym.