From LGBTQ to LGBTQIA+: The Growing Inclusivity of Community Terms

Explore the evolving landscape of gender and sexual identities with our comprehensive guide to the meanings and differences between LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, and LGBTQIA+. Understand why embracing the most inclusive term, LGBTQIA+, matters in representing the diversity and complexity of the community.

This image features a vibrant array of LGBTQ+ pride flags layered over one another. The flags include the traditional six-color rainbow flag, the transgender pride flag with its light blue, pink, and white stripes, the non-binary pride flag in yellow, white, purple, and black, and the brown and black stripes representing people of color within the LGBTQ+ community, signifying the diversity and intersectionality of gender and sexual identities.

In recent years, the initialism LGBTQ has evolved to become more inclusive, leading to variations like LGBTQ+ and LGBTQIA+. This blog post aims to decipher these terms, highlight the differences among them, and discuss which version is most appropriate for addressing the community, as well as the significance of using the chosen variant.

The Evolution from LGBTQ to LGBTQIA+

LGBTQ: The acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. Historically, it served as a comprehensive term for the community. The Q stands for "Queer" or "Questioning," reflecting both a reclaimed identity and an acknowledgment of those exploring their sexuality or gender identity.

LGBTQ+: The addition of the plus sign represents a significant evolution. It signifies inclusivity beyond the five identities explicitly mentioned, acknowledging the spectrum of gender and sexuality that isn't covered by these five letters. This version attempts to encompass all non-straight and non-cisgender identities, promoting a broader sense of belonging.

LGBTQIA+: This version further expands inclusivity by including "I" for Intersex individuals, those born with physical sex characteristics that don't fit typical definitions of male or female; and "A" for Asexual people, who experience little to no sexual attraction to others. The plus sign remains, reaffirming the commitment to inclusivity beyond the specific identities listed.

Choosing the Right Term

Deciding which term to use—LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, or LGBTQIA+—depends on context, audience, and purpose. Here are some considerations:

  • Context and Specificity: If your content focuses on general issues affecting the community, LGBTQ+ provides a broad, inclusive approach. For topics specifically addressing issues related to intersex and asexual individuals, LGBTQIA+ offers the necessary specificity and inclusiveness.
  • Audience Awareness: Understanding your audience is crucial. LGBTQ+ is widely recognized and can be more accessible to general audiences. LGBTQIA+ may resonate more with informed or activist audiences who appreciate the explicit inclusivity.
  • Evolving Language: Language around gender and sexuality is constantly evolving. Staying informed about these changes shows respect and support for the community. Using the most inclusive language available, such as LGBTQIA+, can reflect a commitment to acknowledging and respecting this diversity.

The Importance of Inclusive Language

Using inclusive language, like LGBTQIA+ over LGBTQ or LGBTQ+, is not just a matter of semantics. It's a recognition of the diverse experiences within the community and an affirmation of the importance of visibility for all its members. Inclusive language:

  • Promotes Visibility: Including identities like intersex and asexual in the acronym challenges the erasure these groups often face and acknowledges their struggles and contributions within the larger community.
  • Encourages Inclusivity: Using the most inclusive term available sends a message of acceptance and support, fostering a more welcoming environment for everyone under the umbrella.
  • Reflects Respect: Adapting language to be more inclusive demonstrates respect for people's identities and experiences, contributing to a culture of acceptance and understanding.


While LGBTQ+ offers a broad, accessible approach suitable for general discussions, LGBTQIA+ provides the most inclusive representation of the community's diversity. In writing about the community, the choice between these terms should consider the content's context, the audience's awareness, and the importance of inclusivity. Ultimately, using LGBTQIA+ not only reflects a commitment to recognizing and respecting the spectrum of identities within the community but also promotes a narrative of inclusivity and acceptance. As allies and members of the community, it is our responsibility to embrace and advocate for language that respects and acknowledges everyone's experiences.

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