Understanding LGBTQ

What is LGBTQ?

In short, LGBTQ is an umbrella term for various groups of people based on their sexual orientation and gender identities – among other things. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. The term LGBT has been widely used since the 1980s. However, the Q was added from the late 1990s to include people that were questioning their sexual or gender identity in some way. When gay rights activists began their activities in the 1970s and 80s, the 'gay movement' was the most common term. However, as other groups began to get involved with it, this term seemed out-of-date and not inclusive enough, hence the adoption of LGBT and later LGBTQ. The movement celebrates diversity in gender and sexuality, often organising so-called pride events in major cities around the globe.

 How many LGBTQ people are there in the world?

 Due to the cultural differences in countries around the world, there is no sure way of calculating the numbers of LGBTQ people globally. What may be considered gay in one culture may not in another, for example. Nevertheless, in a modern Western country, such as the United States, well over three per cent of the adult population would identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual with transgender people not included in that figure. Females are more likely to identify as bisexual than males in most Western societies.

Are there criticisms of the term LGBTQ?

Some people are critical of the term, especially insofar as the Q has been added to it in recent times. This is partly because queer used to be a term of abuse that homosexual people would be referred to by. As such, some people prefer to refer to it as Q for questioning rather than queer, and some prefer to drop the letter altogether. In some cases, the term LGBT+ is now in common usage to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people and anyone else who wishes to identify in an unspecified manner within the group. To some, this is a more inclusive terminology, but LGBTQ still remains the most common.

Why is the LGBTQ movement represented by a rainbow?

The rainbow flag is often seen being flown at establishments such as pubs and restaurants which are open-minded about patronage from the LGBTQ community. It is also widely used during pride events. The flag represents the diverse nature of both sexual and gender identities so that it can be viewed as something of a spectrum. The rainbow flag was first adopted by members of the gay community in San Francisco, and it is now used all over the world.

Can animals be LGBTQ?

Sexual activity, courtship behaviours, partnering and parenting, are all activities which have been observed in animals among same-sex couples. Both bisexual and homosexual behaviour has been spotted in large numbers of animal species including birds, mammals, reptiles and insects.

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Dating simply means the process of meeting someone to see whether or not getting to know them further could lead to a more intimate relationship and even love. In short, it is a form of courtship which places two people in a social situation where they may start to form a deeper relationship. In some cases, dates lead people to decide the person they have met is not for them. In others, it leads to further dates and even romance. Dates often occur in person with face-to-face meetings, but increasingly people now date over the phone or via video conferencing, too. So-called speed dates are organised events where people can meet many others in quick succession to see whether or not sparks fly.
Marriage, also known as wedlock or matrimony, is the state between people, which means that they will be partners. In a legal sense, it places both rights and obligations on the people who are married. Although marriage between two people is the norm, certain cultures allow for polygamy or marriage between an individual and several partners. For many centuries, marriage was only allowed between adults – although the definition of what constituted an adult varied – who were of opposite sexes. Nowadays, many countries around the world allow for legal unions between same-sex couples as well as transgender people. It has many religious connotations although marriage is a legal status, usually sanctioned by the state.
The word equality has its root in the Latin term for knights – or equites – which meant propertied men who, unlike common foot soldiers, had sufficient wealth to ride into battle on a horse. They considered themselves to be equals among their peers but of a distinct social class from the common soldiery. As such, the modern concept of equality never really means a level playing field for all – such ideas are more associated with the concept of egalitarianism. Equality can, therefore, mean different things to different people and have unique meanings in different contexts around the world. Many people who campaign for greater equality want outcomes to be more equal and for people to have a fair chance in life rather than ensuring everyone has an exactly shared out amount of resource and wealth.
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