Synonyms For LGBTQ+?

I recently noticed some search terms popping up with folks looking for other ways to say LGBT. They probably found my rant on how LGBT is not a synonym for gay. I certainly stand by that. But what is a good synonym for LGBTQ+?

The best I’ve got is gender and sexual minorities or GSM for short. I like this phrase because it’s clear and inclusive. I like that instead of trying to name each specific minority experience–an impossible project that will always leave someone out–it just points out the axes of experience we’re talking about. It’s a logical grouping; gender and sexuality are so intimately related. Gender and sexual minorities are everyone from lesbian, gay, bi and trans people to asexual, nonbinary and queer people, to kinky and poly people, and more.

In casual settings, I frequently use queer as a synonym for LGBTQ+. It’s not a perfect fit. A lot of people, especially LGBTQ+ folks of the older generation, are just not down with the word queer. And a lot of queer people feel that being queer is quite distinct from being, say, plain old gay, because it includes a certain critical, anti-assimilationist attitude. Still, it rolls off the tongue, and people invariably know what I mean.

In theory, GSM is my preferred term, and queer is not. But in practice, I haven’t fully integrated GSM into my vocabulary, and despite its imperfections, I say queer all the time.

What are your favorite alternatives to LGBTQ+?

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15 comments

    • rimonim

      I’d heard of QUILTBAG and forgotten it! Thanks for the reminder. I like that it’s easy ot say and only 2 syllables. What does the U stand for?

    • rimonim

      Good point! I confess to knowing almost nothing about aromantics outside the context of the asexual community… Something to read up on. I imagine the R could be a more explicit way to include poly people too.

  1. Kit

    I fall back on queer, because I just can’t say an acronym out loud with a straight face and everything else is just too long for conversational ease. But I do understand that it’s an anti-establishment word that not everyone feels describes them. Still, it’s starting to loose those associations and get into general use. Language! Sheesh. It’s weird.

  2. pasunhomme

    I’m not a fan of the term “sexual minorities” or “gender and sexual minorities” for two reasons. First, because bisexuals are actually a majority. Once you start adding up all the other letters, QUILTBAG is an overwhelming majority. Second, while the term “minority” does offer the valid connotation that we tend to be socially disadvantaged, it does so (in my mind at least) only through an odd semantic association with ethnic minorities. Is there another word that can reflect this disadvantage while avoiding the…um…disadvantages of the word “minority”?

    • rimonim

      I hear ya on the downsides of “minorities.” I’m not sure what a good replacement word would be, but I’ll continue to think about it. What do you find rolls of your tongue in every day conversation about queer people?

  3. bitter.sweet.alive

    Personally I’m not comfortable with the word “minority”. It sets us apart and also, for me, reenforces the hegemonic way of thinking. I prefer “people or persons of diverse gender, diverse sexuality or intersex status”. I got this from a LGBTIQA+ organisation that focuses on counselling and community support. I like this one cause it doesn’t exclude anyone and there is room to include more identities, too.

    • rimonim

      That is an excellent phrase–very inclusive and flexible, while also highlighting the social structures that create these categories. I really want to find a relatively brief term that is easy to use out loud as well as in writing. But perhaps that’s just too tall an order given the very diverse group of people we’re trying to describe.

      • bitter.sweet.alive

        I think it is a tall order. Maybe something along the lines of just “diversity” or “diverse peeps” … I don’t know. I thought “DP” but then realised … no.

  4. Mxtrmeike13

    I too prefer “queer,” because sometimes LGBT can connote a binary understanding of sex, gender, and sexual orientation. For example, someone who’s bisexual might identify as being attracted to men and women, but someone who identifies as queer or omnisexual/pansexual might identify as being attracted to ALL genders, sexes, etc. Queer’s broad enough — nebulous, really — to allow for a space in the community for people like me.

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