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It is used to describe all the issues related to the included communities – plus a few others thrown in for good measure, as the initialism LGBT is intended to emphasize a diversity of sexuality and gender identity-based cultures and is sometimes used to refer to anyone who is non-heterosexual or non-cisgender instead of exclusively to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Expanding the acronym...
Back in the day, only LGB, or GLB were ever used. Following some confusion over issues of sexuality and gender issues (no, they're not the same) and the fact that the term "gay community" did not accurately represent those to whom it referred, it became fashionable to add transgender to the mix during the '80s, forming the LGBT that is in common use today. With issues regarding inclusion and accusations of pigeon-holing, the acronym seems to be slowly falling out of favour. For example, many researchers prefer to use the term "non-heterosexual" when discussing LGB families for a variety of reasons.
"Intersex" being a medical term used to describe those born with intermediate or atypical combinations of physical sexual characteristics fails to be properly described by "transgender" and as a result of feeling left out, "intersex" has found its way into vaguely common use, forming LGBTI, while others insist that they are not a part of the LGBT community and would rather that they not be included as part of the term.
Alternatively, the acronym is sometimes expanded to LGBTQ, with the Q standing for either "queer" or "questioning", depending on who you ask.
QUILTBAG stands for "Queer, Unidentified, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual, and Gay".
For those hardcore individuals interested in a challenge, try to work out what LGBTTI2QQAP stands for.
An occasionally used alternative initialism is GSM or GSRM (Gender, Sexual, and/or Romantic Minorities), which is short yet includes every possible marginalized sexual orientation and gender identity, and the latter includes various different romantic orientations as well. Some activists object to the term, noting the use of the term "sexual minority" in some quarters to attempt to include pedophilia as just another sexuality, as the term "sexual minority" was coined in the late 1960s under the influence of Lars Ullerstam's book "The Erotic Minorities: A Swedish View", which came strongly in favor of tolerance to paedophilia and "sex criminals". Despite this, the term "sexual minority" usually refers to those who are widely accepted as part of the LGBT acronym, in particular gay people.
Some people in the communities are giving up on the acronym and using the phrase "alphabet soup" instead. Others are using LGBT+, with the plus sign representing all other sexual and gender minorities.
In any case, there is an increasing sense that these communities have little in common aside from suffering discrimination.
Another alternative to the alphabet soup is MOGAI, standing for Marginalized Orientations, Genders, Alignments, and Identities.
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- Lattimer, Julia. "GSM acronym better than LGBT alphabet soup". Collegiate Times. http://www.collegiatetimes.com/opinion/gsm-acronym-better-than-lgbt-alphabet-soup/article_f7a325a4-5acd-11e4-bf0d-001a4bcf6878.html. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
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- Multiple. "Lgbt Alphabet Soup" (in American Standard English). The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/lgbt-alphabet-soup/. Retrieved 20 December 2014.