One of the common refrains, even among allies, is keeping what all the various letters in the LGBTQIA+ community mean straight. There are so many letters to describe the different experiences of community members, but that’s not the only reason.
LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and more. Over the years, this acronym has expanded from much shorter ones as more people join the community and want to see themselves in it.
Words have meaning, and each of these terms describes a specific experience. Even with the level of specificity in the acronym, there could be even more letters to describe the experiences of being LGBTQIA+.
Initially, LGBTQIA+ communities were relatively isolated. In the pre-Stonewall era in the United States, gay men were considered the most visible and had the largest number of organizations. These tended to focus exclusively on those concerns.
Over time, lesbians also formed organizations with different goals than those created for gay men. Then, even smaller, identity-based organizations formed but could not make the necessary headway for cultural and legal change.
It was only when these organizations started working across identities that progress really started. It took the work of many, from the queens at Stonewall to the gay men who founded the HRC, to achieve the environment we enjoy.
These common goals and concerns made the community work, and still do so today. Being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community means many different things, but the goal is still the same. To live happy, fulfilled lives free from discrimination.
Ironically, another reason LGBTQIA+ is so long and contains so many identities is a general desire to lump everyone who is different into one category by the general public. While this does present a few problems, it also forges a sense of camaraderie.
Remember, this is the brief version. To truly understand the nuances, we need to look at the history of the community and how it relates to the broader history of the country/world.