What is the LGBTQIA+ community and why does it matter?

What is the LGBTQIA+ community

LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex and Asexual. The plus sign represents all sexualities, genders and gender identities, not included in the main abbreviation. The community is also informally known as LGBT+. This is a community that strives to be seen as a whole other population deserving respect. Given all this, it’s important everyone educate themselves on what the LGBTQIA+ community stands for in order to show them our unconditional love and support.

Important facts about the LGBTQIA+ Community that you should know

The LGBTQIA+ community has existed since before humans recorded history, with the earliest written evidence “coming from Mesopotamia (now Iraq) as early as 2,500 BCE.” LGBTQIA+ has always been present in every culture around the world. The 4th century BCE philosopher Aristotle knew of the existence of people who felt romantic or sexual attraction to others of a gender different from their own and believed it was possible for them to change.

The word “homosexual” wasn’t used until 1869 to describe people attracted to others of the same sex. The concept that gender is a spectrum, not a binary system as commonly thought today, was first proposed in 1955 and then popularized by Kate Bornstein who began writing about it in 1991.

There are over 700 different genders/ sexualities in existence. In 2015 Time magazine listed “genderqueer” as one of the top 10 “words of the year.” Transgender and intersex people have existed throughout recorded history, but it wasn’t until 17th century that they were being discussed.

In 2008 Hillary Clinton became the first serving U.S. president or presidential candidate to publicly support same-sex marriage when she was running for president in 2007.

Currently there are over 40 countries that have legalized same-sex marriage, including Mexico and Australia which did so this year. The LGBTQIA+ community is among some of the most culturally diverse communities on the planet today. From gay pride to drag marches around the world, this group of people is striving to break stereotypes and be

In recent decades the LGBTQIA+ community has gone from being a small marginalized group to a huge subculture that is more visible than ever before. Today people who identify as LGBTQIA+ are participating in all sorts of activities — most notably gay pride marches through major cities across the world.

Each year millions of people march in over 150 cities to declare their pride and respect for the LGBTQIA+ community.

15 Things You Can Do To Support The LGBTQIA+ Community

LGBTQ+ individuals are constantly fighting for rights and visibility, so it’s important to be a good ally and help them out whenever we can. Check out the following ideas to find ways that you can support the community:

#1. Educate yourself on terminology:

  • To join the fight against stereotypes, it’s important to know your LGBTQIA+ terms! Find out what words like “gay,” “lesbian,” “transgender,” “bisexual,” “asexual,” “intersex,” “aporagender,” etc. have in common and how they are defined within the community.

#2. Learn about different gender identities:

  • One way to be an ally is by learning about all of the different gender identities. Educate yourself using online resources, and look to family and friends who are in touch with the LGBTQIA+ community to learn more.

#3. Be supportive and try to keep an open mind:

  • It’s important to remember that just because you may not believe your friend or family member is transgender, gay, lesbian, etc. or any other term listed above doesn’t mean that they aren’t. Remember that if they are questioning their sexuality or gender identity, it’s not about you — it’s about them!

#4. Call out stereotypes you see on TV or in the media:

  • Often times, people feel like a certain way about the LGBTQIA+ community because of what they’ve seen on television or read in books — so call this out and educate others!

#5. Use gender-neutral terms when addressing groups of people:

  • Instead of using “ladies and gentlemen” in a room full of people, try saying “folks” or even better, if you know their names, use that instead! A big way that allies can also show support is by using the appropriate pronouns and names when referring to a person’s identity. So, if your friend Nicole identifies as a woman, call her “she” or “Nicole” instead of “he.” Or even just ask which pronoun they prefer, such as “she/her,” “he/him,” “they/them,” etc.

#6. Show up to pride events:

  • There are hundreds of queer pride marches all over the world every single year — show up to one near you and be a part of the movement. There are a variety of local events in every community every year too. Check with your local media outlets, newspapers and your local LGBTQIA+ Community Centers, that will have a treasure trove of information on locations, events and more you can attend and show your support.

#7. Help Out Your Local LGBTQIA+ Office by Volunteering:

  • There are tons of ways to help your local LGBTQIA+ community, including helping out your local office by volunteering in the organization or even just to help them raise awareness. If you’re interested in doing either, look into what organizations exist locally and search the internet for information on how to get involved.

#8. Invite an LGBTQIA+ individual to something:

  • For example, invite them on a trip if you’re close friends or just ask them to hang out for the afternoon! Remember, you have many friends that may identify as LGBTQIA+, and they are looking for support too. Including them in important and fun events in your life can truly make a difference in someone’s life and also show that you aren’t afraid of being yourself and helping others be themselves too.

#9. Be mindful of your language and pronouns:

  • Don’t assume someone is straight just because they’re in a relationship with someone they identify as the opposite gender. As we mentioned earlier in this article, it’s important to ask what pronouns someone wants you to use, like “he/him,” or “she/her.” Also, don’t assume a person feels comfortable with being called by their birth name. If you’re friends or family of an individual who is questioning their identity and frequenting LGBTQIA+ events to support others in the community, ask them what they would like to be called instead of making assumptions about how they identify.

#10. Promote LGBTQ+ events on campus:

  • If you’re a part of a social club or even your student government at university, it would be great to get the word out about different events for LGBTQIA+ individuals like drag shows and performances! You can still support the community with things that don’t require money, like donating a portion of sales from a business, organizing an event , etc.

#11. Be open to learning more:

  • The LGBTQIA+ community does not have representation in the media like it should, and when that happens we can use our platforms to tell their stories. Research the history of the LGBTQIA+ community, including Stonewall, Harvey Milk and Marsha P. Johnson, as well as queer literature written by authors like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. As an ally who wants to show support for this group of people, you have a responsibility to be educated on these topics in order to spread awareness and acceptance to others.

#12. Help them find acceptance at home or at school:

  • If you see a friend or family member being mistreated for their sexuality or gender identity, it’s important to stand up for them and let them know you support and love them. Even if their parents or classmates don’t, you can still be there for them and make a difference.

#13. Don’t pressure others to disclose what their pronouns are:

  • Be careful not to make assumptions about who someone is attracted to, and don’t pressure them into disclosing their gender or sexuality. If they decide that they are comfortable sharing this with you, then take things from there! It is important to remember that there are transgender and nonbinary members of the LGBTQIA+ community, so do not assume someone’s gender just because they present as a certain way. The same goes with sexuality; don’t assume someone is gay or heterosexual if you’re not sure!

#14. Learn about different sexualities:

  • For example, did you know that asexuality is not the same thing as celibacy? Learn more by visiting resources like the Asexual Visibility and Education Network at asexuality.org and GALE, The Global Alliance For LGBT Education at gale.info.

#15. Link your friends to information:

  • Once you have a few resources under your belt, show them off to your family or classmates that might not be as educated on LGBTQIA+ history! Be sure to connect with other allies and support each other in your endeavors! It can be challenging for people on both sides of the spectrum, but we need to work together in order to make a change. If there is a shortage of positive representation out there, it’s more important than ever to include supportive messages in our daily lives.

You’ve just read through 15 things you can do to support the LGBTQIA+ community. We hope that this list helps as a good starting point for allies who want to show their unconditional love and support for members of this diverse population. If all of these tips seem overwhelming, don’t worry! You’ll find many more resources than what we have listed here. Here are some other great places to start: — The Human Rights Campaign’s “LGBTQ Glossary” has an extensive list with everything from acronyms like ‘asexual’ or ‘intersex,’ to definitions on terms such as homophobia or biphobia (https://www.hrc.org/resources/glossary-of-terms). The Human Rights Campaign also has tons of resources on LGBTQIA+ history and events going on around the world, as well as tips for supporting your friends if they are struggling with their identity or sexuality. WATCH OUT is also a fantastic resource where you can get involved! Not only does it provide links to LGBTQIA+ resources, but it also sends out monthly action alerts that require support from allies (https://watchout.lgbt). GLAAD’s website is always a go-to when it comes to the latest news and updates on what is going on in the world of queer people (https://glaad.org).

Although you may not have realized it, you are no doubt surrounded by LGBTQIA+ members of society! If we’re going to make a change in our world, we must acknowledge and learn about the hardships these people face just because of their sexual or gender identity. Although it can be difficult for allies who may struggle with their own sexuality or identity, you have an obligation to show your unconditional love and support for these people, whether it’s through attending rallies or by posting on social media. It may seem like a small step, but the more allies we have, the better!

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Greg Brown

Greg Brown

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I’m an author, illustrator, designer, videographer, actor, singer and more.