Alphabet Soup - LGBTQQIPNAA2SA, etc.
Most of us have seen some version of the acronym - LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA+, LGBTQQIPNAA2SA. What does it mean? Why are there so many versions? Which one does The UP Center use?
At UP, we generally use LGBTQ+, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and + indicates that there's more than what we've listed.
The goal of the acronym is to describe a diverse set of communities without writing out all of the different identities every time, but it's a double-edged sword. For the sake of brevity, there are quite a few identities that get buried under that "+" at the end - Pansexual, Non-Binary, Asexual, Intersex, Two-Spirit/2S (to name a few), and are therefore not as visible or recognized.
LGBT is the most common because it's the briefest, but it does nothing to indicate that there's more than just those four identities. It doesn't leave room for flexibility or diversity.
On the other hand, LGBTQQIPN2SAAA.... is the most inclusive, but it's also cumbersome as far as abbreviations go, and in many ways defeats the purpose of an acronym.
So where does that leave us?
At UP, we generally use LGBTQ+ because it is the best of both worlds. It's brief, which is the point of the acronym, but it also signals that there's more beyond the four that most people know. It creates an opportunity for folks to ask questions ("what's the Q?/what's the +?") and challenge assumptions.
In the same thought, we encourage replacing older phrases like "gay community" or "gay and lesbian" (when referring to the entire community, and not just gay men and lesbian women) with some form of the acronym to be more inclusive, since not everyone from the LGBTQ+ community identifies as "gay".
It's complex, and in the interest of finding the middle ground, we use an acronym that meets the best of both worlds - brief, but with room to grow.
-Christopher H. Morris, acting president