With the arrival of June, recognized worldwide as Pride Month, you’ll see a variety of letters and acronyms representing all the different communities that celebrate Pride. This could be anything from LGBT to LGBTQAI+ or LGBTQ2s+. There’s even LGBTQQIP2SAA+ (that’s right!)… If you’re curious about what’s going on in what’s commonly referred to as ‘The Alphabet Community’, then this article’s for you.
What started out as just being gay has evolved. Now, people are beginning to understand and accept that just as we come in all shapes, sizes and colours, people have different sexual orientations too.
As both a gay man, and a Canadian Trip Manager with Contiki, I’ll also share my recommendations for great places to celebrate Pride on some of the awesome trips we offer. So. Let’s break it down!
L – Lesbian
A lesbian is a woman who is physically, emotionally, or romantically attracted to another woman.
Making Time’s list of Most Influential Teens, Amandla Stenberg is one of the most famous figures in the lesbian community. Since her breakthrough role in The Hunger Games in 2012 she’s acted in over 20 productions, received an NAACP Image Award and a Teen Choice Award, made it on to Oprah’s list of visionaries and influential leaders, and even found her way into a Beyoncé music video! All of that and she’s still only 22 #goals. Now that’s someone who’s ready to change the world.
G – Gay
Gay usually refers to a man who is physically, emotionally, or romantically attracted to another man. It can be applied to anyone who has feelings toward someone of the same sex, including Lesbian women.
Although 71 countries still criminalize private, consensual activities between gay men, and 7 countries still hold the death penalty towards it, progress continues to be made throughout the world. Botswana was the most recent country to decriminalize gay relations in 2019.
Personally, one of my favorite places to celebrate Pride as a gay man is Berlin. It’s home to one of Europe’s biggest Pride events – the nightlife’s incredible, and so are the people! You’ll have the time of your life here on Contiki’s Berlin Pride trip.
B – Bisexual
A person who is physically, emotionally, or romantically attracted to people of the same gender, or another gender. For many people, sexuality is fluid – that is, it changes throughout their life. Other people talk about falling in love with the person inside, rather than their body.
Now is a great time to mention that every community we’re talking about in this article has its own flag! The bisexual flag is made up of three stripes. The pink stripe represents attraction to the same sex only (gay and lesbian), the blue stripe signifies attraction to the opposite sex, while the purple stripe in the middle blends the two colours together, symbolizing bisexuality.
Bisexual Pride Day falls on September 23, but you can find celebrations for bisexuality at most Pride events around the world.
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T – Transgender
In the most common set of letters, the ‘T’ represents transgender. Now we’re getting into an area of the acronym you might be less familiar with, so let’s unpack! The trans community is becoming more and more visible with the help of the International Transgender Day of Visibility every March 31st. Trans people’s identities and genders differ from the sex they were assigned at birth. So, someone might be a trans man meaning they were born as a girl but now live as a man. Just like every other man, their preferred pronouns are he/him.
Canadian actor Elliot Page made headlines last year, making him one of the most famous actors to represent the community. Many trans people prefer to simply be described as ‘man’ or ‘woman’, without the ‘trans’ before.
Q – Queer
Once a derogatory term, queer has been taken back by the LGBTQAI+ community. It’s often used as an umbrella term to describe anyone whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual. In some cases, there might be more than one Q, or the Q that is there might represent ‘Questioning.’
‘Questioning’ applies to people who are figuring out their gender identity and how they want to identify their sexual orientation.
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I - Intersex
This category refers to people who are born with both male and female reproductive organs, or have variations in chromosomes that mean they do not fit into a gender of either ‘male’ or ‘female.’
This was once referred to as a hermaphrodite but using this word is now a no-no. It derives from greek mythology and is both misleading (the word connotes a human who’s both fully male and fully female in its genitalia, which is biologically impossible) and considered offensive.
Intersex people are more common than you might think. While identical twins make up 0.3% of the population, intersex individuals account for 1.7% of births. Culturally and historically, societies have held a binary view of sex and gender, so the intersex community is only recently being discussed.
A - Asexual
Love doesn’t equal sex. An asexual person (Ace for short) doesn’t experience the desire to have sex. That doesn’t mean they don’t have relationships though! Aces cherish emotional connections, understanding, and above all – LOVE. And what’s better for the world than a little more love? Speaking of people who have a whole lotta love to give, ‘A’ can also mean ‘Ally.’ An ally is someone who doesn’t necessarily belong to the Alphabet Community, but who supports the people who do.
To my mind, nothing brings together people quite like Contiki’s Europe Pride celebrations. Here, you get to combine the best of what Europe has to offer with 10 days, 4 countries, and 2 Pride festivals (yep, that includes the epic Berlin Pride too!). The trip is definitely one for the history books.
The plus in LGBTQAI+ is your friend. When you see a “+” at the end of the series of letters that’s the easy way of saying “there are a lot more people out there, so here’s to them!” If you’re new to all of this, you can put the plus at the end meaning “in case I forgot anyone”.
One community that falls under the + is Two-Spirited individuals (2S). Two-Spirit is a term used by some Indigenous North Americans who identify as having both a masculine and feminine spirit. It can also describe someone’s sexual, gender, or spiritual identity.
The Progressive Flag
The Alphabet Community reaches far and wide and there are more communities within it than there are the colours of the flag that have come to represent it! You might be familiar with the rainbow flag, but did you know there’s a whole new flag? The Progressive Flag has kept the original rainbow colours, but it also features the colours of the trans community (pink, white & blue), the marginalized BIPOC community (brown and black), and the Intersex community (that’s the yellow section with a purple circle). It’s the Community’s way of stretching its arms even wider and declaring “welcome”! Since we’ve reclaimed the ‘Q’ word and while we’re openly declaring things anyway, hoist that flag up proudly and repeat after me: “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”
Step one might be decoding the acronym you’ve seen out there but once you do, you’ll discover a whole new world of acceptance, love, and community.
To learn more, the GLAAD has an amazing guide to some of the other letters (and there are lots more!) that we didn’t cover in our LGBTQAI+ breakdown. And just to clarify, if you were wondering what the earlier acronym LGBTQQIP2SAA+ stands for it’s this:
Lesbian. Gay. Bisexual. Transgender. Questioning. Queer. Intersex. Pansexual. Two-Spirit (2S). Androgynous. Asexual. + “Plus”
Thanks for dropping by and have a happy day!
Ian Kivell is a member of the TTC Pride Identity Circle in Canada.
Contiki, part of the TTC family, is a member of the IGLTA – the world’s leading network of LGBTQ+ welcoming tourism businesses