How do you refer to the lgbtq+ "community" least excludingly?

As the title states really. I need to refer to this diverse group of people, who somehow have gotten put in the same box labeled “sexual minorites”.

I’m a boring CISHET vanilla white male, so I don’t really know. I want to include as many as I can when I refer to “lgbtq+ people”. I’ve been studying various flags, trying to find the one flag I need. But I can’t really figure it out.

Is lgbtq+ the preferred term, or what should I use? Is a flag better? I don’t want to hurt someone by not including them.


Hey OP, can you elaborate on the context for which you are looking to talk about the queer community? I think that matters a bit. There are more formal and more casual descriptions that I do think are important to discuss the differences of use.

For instance, Gender and Sexual Minorities or GSM is probably the most formal you can go with. This might be appropriate for corporate DEI, but you will get absolutely roasted on social media if you refer to gay people that way. (It’s very clinical, not really something the community uses, but it’s a wide umbrella)

LGBT(QIA+) is a little old school nowadays, a mouthful, and always feels a bit like you’re always going to be missing some letters. If a cishet ally used any variety this, I’m not going to be offended and I’d appreciate that they’re trying- it’s clear that the intention is there and it’s better to signal support imperfectly that be silent imo. This one usually comes up most frequently around Pride Month as there’s a lot more visibility on our community from those who are not in it.

The queer community is probably your best all-purpose use but may not work 100% in formal situations as “queer” has historically been a pejorative. Boomers tend to look at you funny when you use it, and some younger folks who don’t think that slurs can ever be reclaimed can sometimes be put off as well. That said, it’s probably what the majority of the community uses as an umbrella term. This is the one I’d use when chatting with friends. “Gay” can also be used as a substitute for “queer” in this context as many folks will also use that as an umbrella term, but this can be confused with discussing just gay men, so you may have to know your audience.

I had a presumed cishet friend in high school who just used “homosexual”. I wouldn’t recommend. All of the formality of GSM, none of the inclusion.

Other things I would not recommend: alphabet mafia (unless you’re on tiktok), anything that is still generally considered a slur (some folks are reclaiming the f-slur, t-slur and d-slur but I would consider that a deeply personal choice of self expression and not something for cishet folks to use at this time, unless personally invited to use to describe only that person), and lastly, using any of these broad identifiers to refer to specific people who have shared their specific label with you (ie don’t call someone a queer woman when they have told you they identify as bisexual, or a queer man if they said they are a trans man, etc. Some people do identify as queer though, so if they have said as much you can use that specifically then).

That’s a lot of minutia but I think the important thing is, the community generally knows when you are trying your best. Even if you accidentally offend someone, just asking what they would like to be referred to in the future is probably all you need to worry about.


Thanks for your elaborate reply, of which I disagree with nothing!

I have been editing my post for the entire day, and one thing I was debating with my self was how much context to provide. One thing is I want to solicit replies, not bore people to death. Another thing is that if I go through with my idea, some may be able to doxx me.

But “on with the context” I hear you think :-) I work with young people mainly. We’re talking 16-25 year olds primarily. Lately I’ve become aware of how my older coworkers (not that I’m young either, but the others are older) approach especially trans people. Some of the other young people we work with will echo this. And I’ve had it! I’ve decided to become a bit more aggressive in my opposition to this “oppression light” that I see. I wanted to get those “respect my trans homies, or I’ll identify as a fucking problem”. I like the message and the trans people I’ve consulted seem to agree that it’s pretty funny … BUT! I can’t wear the word “fucking” on my clothing, and I don’t want to limit the message to only include trans people.

So I’m trying to figure out, how to display something to the same effect, but with more minorities included. Being the dumb fuck I am, I wanted to make sure that I don’t hurt people, by being ignorant of the meaning of some term or excluding someone. And just asking the usual lgtbq+ people in my circles would not give me a representative answer. I might get some t-shirts made, it may be badges, or something entirely different IDK, I’m working on it.

Izzgo, (edited )

“respect my trans homies, or I’ll identify as a fucking problem”

LOL I LOVE this!! Maybe you could change it to “respect my trans homies, or I’ll identify as a ducking problem” or "pucking froblem".

As a 70 year old lesbian, one thing I've long believed and believe now more than ever is that the most radical thing anyone in the queer community has ever done is simply come out in their daily life. Then live their life as an out person, whatever they are out as, and to the greatest extent possible. So to you, thank you for coming out as an ally, and I hope you do so loudly and daily. It can take courage.

Queer is a great umbrella term, but it still originates fairly recently as a hated slur, which suggests queer people have more right to use it than not-so-queers. Thirty five years ago I was friends with a lesbian couple in their 60s who HATED the term dyke, and were highly perturbed when I joyfully embraced being a dyke, because "dyke" had been such a horrible slur when they were young. But now my generation was reclaiming the term.


First off, thank you for chiming in. I feel that most of my IRL input has been from gen z, and I appreciate your input for both the diversity it brings, as well as the insights. That said, I will never ever be able to use the d-word, it feels almost as wrong as using racial slur.

“Queer” has been suggested a couple of times. But I feel like it’s aggressive towards the wrong group.

How would you feel about the term “rainbow friends”?

So to you, thank you for coming out as an ally,

That made me feel weird. I’m not looking for thanks, I’m just trying to be true to myself and be a decent person towards my fellow people.

and I hope you do so loudly and daily.

Whenever I get the chance :-)

It can take courage.

It may have originally, but not 1% as much courage as the kids who have come out to me as trans when they saw an ally, or the courage you showed when you came out as lesbian. I’m a CISHET white man, I’m as safe as I can be. The kids OTH need a safe space to question themselves, and will do my best to provide that space for them.


It seems like in this situation, it’s reasonable to just use the word “trans”. I really appreciate how much thought you’re putting in to inclusiveness, but it seems like it isn’t the queer community at large who your older coworkers are struggling to accept, but specifically trans people.

I don’t know all the details, but I would recommend two things:

First, you need to help trans people feel safe while they’re in your place of work. They are the people who are at the center of this conversation, not you and not your older coworkers. Get a small Progress Flag and put it somewhere in your workspace where it is visible to the public and also clearly associated with you. Your goal here is to put up a little flag that says “if you’re in the queer community, come to me and I will make you comfortable”. These statements of inclusiveness are aimed to the public, not your coworkers–your coworkers already know that you’re an ally because they know who you are and what kind of actions you do, but the general public doesn’t have that luxury so this is where your efforts for inclusiveness should be focused.

Second, if you do want to buy clothes or accessories to show your older coworkers that you support trans identities and try to change their minds about doing the same, make sure you support trans artists when you do so :) don’t “get them made”, buy them from a trans artist who has already made them. Not only will you be financially supporting the people you want to support, but you’ll also be elevating the voice of an actual trans person–which I think is what you wanted to do when you made this post.

That being said, hostile phrasing like “I’ll identify as a problem” may not be the best way to change someone’s mind. I don’t know a lot about your coworkers, but you might be the only person to ever speak to them with empathy about empathy for trans people. You’ve got an opportunity here to prove wrong the stereotypes about “screaming SJWs”, stereotypes that are so baked in to our society that they have even managed to enter the discussion we’re having here. In a world like the one that we live in, kindness and patience are radical and powerful tools, if we choose to use them.

DessertStorms avatar

I love everything you've said, I just want to add to that last point - while kindness and patience are radical and powerful tools, and people, allies especially, should try to lead with those, expecting (not that you implied it, just saying) marginalised people to be patient and kind in the face of bigotry is the height of privilege and often slips in to tone policing. People need to understand that anger is a valid reaction and part of the education, and that discomfort is essential to growth.


Absolutely, and thanks for pointing this out! I don’t have anything to add, I just wanted to let folks know that you’re 100% correct.

DessertStorms avatar



tldr: I want to come off as a little aggressive - not enough to start a fight necessarily, but enough to catch coworkers attention. In the meantime the pride colors are already flying in a prominent position.

I see what you mean about the hostility. But to be honest, I’m aiming at being a bit aggressive. The people I want to influence are so used to hear soft messages, that they pay no attention if you don’t force a slight edge in their faces. Besides, I’m done seeing trans kids, who have done nothing wrong, be met with dead sexing by boomers who are so frigging well aware of the kid’s gender identity. It’s like that episode of Fawlty Towers, except it’s actually happening in front of you and instead of being funny it’s incredibly cringy and you start to feel sorry for the kid.

mcherm, avatar

Here’s what I use:

  • LGBT+ most formal (and old fashioned)
  • LGBTQ+ less formal
  • "people" most inclusive

I treat them as normal people and don’t refer to them at all. They’re no different than anyone else in any way and shouldn’t be excluded or included as a result of their sexual identity.


This is all fine and dandy, but if you can’t name a minority group, then they are effectively forgotten. It’s not true that they are “no different than anyone else” otherwise we wouldn’t be having this discussion. When it comes to diversity and inclusion, you want to be able to identify and name the groups you’re trying to include.

GilgameshCatBeard, (edited )

In a normal world, there’s no need for groups. We’re all just people. No one is an exception- no one is special. To me, they are the same as eveone else.

Just people.


Well, we don’t live in that magical world and minorities still need support to avoid discrimination.


Treated the same, or treated special…. Pick one.

Personally, I don’t think anyone is excluded. And won’t treat someone differently just because others do. Everyone is equal in my world. Who you love is no business of mine. If others make it so- that’s not something I should adjust for.

Do as you wish.


That’s the different between equality and equity. When you treat me and women “the same” you get the current pay gap. So you need positive discrimination to correct for that. One day we won’t need it, I hope.


As an alphabet person I’m trying to reclaim the term. I think it’s great!


why not just use “sexual minorities”?


Gender and sexual minorities is more complete. Trans and non-binary identities are not sexual minorities.

DeltaTangoLima, (edited ) avatar

Am also a boring, (getting) old white bloke: is something like “rainbow folk” not appropriate?

I know the Wear It Purple day organisers refer to kids who are questioning/curious as “rainbow kids” (at least, that’s what a trans coworker told me they called them).

Edit: honestly, it’d just be nice if we didn’t have to label people at all. Y’know - everyone’s a human deserving of dignity and respect, no matter where they come from, how they look, what they believe in, and who they love.

But, again, I get that I’m a boring old white bloke, and it’s probably a lot easier for me to say this than it is for those folks who feel oppressed/suppressed in some way. I just wish it weren’t the case.


“Queer” works.

Everyone between age 30 and 60 will accept the label immediately.

Some people under the age of 30 will get offended but they’re the kind of people who like getting offended so you can safely ignore them.

Some people over the age of 60 will get offended but who cares, they’re about to get dementia anyway.


Can I respectfully ask, what’s the definition of queer as opposed to lesbian, gay, bi, trans or intersex? As in, why is it included in the acronym? Does it have a specific meaning that isn’t covered by the other terms?


“Queer” is a catchall term. It specifically does not have a specific meaning. It’s meant for people who do not fit into the cishet idea of gender, but also don’t fall neatly into the L, G, or B of LGBT.

“Queer” technically encompasses the L, G, and B too. Anything outside of cishet “norm”. A fully straight metrosexual could consider himself queer.


Plus its one of the letters in the growing acronym.


I use the term “queer” to describe myself because my sexual identity (which is something like bisexual or pansexual) and my neurodivergence have made me something of a cultural outcast throughout most of my life. I don’t really “fit in” with most people, and “queer” describes that experience pretty succinctly.

To the person you are responding to, I am cautious about using this word too broadly because some people have specific trauma around this word. Bigots often wield the word like a weapon, so people who are subjected to that and don’t have adequate supports to deal with that trauma can get offended by it. I don’t think we should so flippantly dismiss that. It works for me. It doesn’t work for others.


I think there’s something to be said for not self-censoring due to the potential of someone’s personal trauma. Respectfully, some random person’s issues are not my problem and should not affect my ability to identify myself or others, as long as I’m not doing so in a mean spirited way. If words cause you mental issues, you should work on that with a therapist. I will not coddle you.


honestly, it’d just be nice if we didn’t have to label people at all.

Hear hear!

To be totally honest, that’s somewhat my sentiment for wanting to do something. Some other commenter thanked me for my attitude … I feel weird about that, because I think of it as respectful common decency towards my fellow humans.

I really like the rainbow word though, it’s not as gringe as the letter combinations, not as potentially offensive as some of the words rainbow folks self apply, and it still get the meaning across while being inclusive of all.

IchNichtenLichten, avatar

I tried “you people” but for some reason it didn’t go too well.



Gender, sexual, romantic minority.



A Song of Inclusion and Diversity


I go with lgbt. Those who know all the letters, know all the letters. Those who don’t will make fun of you for listing out more letters.

I’m not saying lgbtqia2s+ fuck no. It’s cringe af


As an lgbtqia+ person, I say screw 2S. That’s so silly.


I agree that in an effort to be as inclusive as possible we have created a completely unmarketable acronym. That matters because we are still having to defend our very existence to a lot of people whose bigotry is being gathered up and weaponized politically against us.


What about “rainbow people”? I kinda like it, the letters can quickly become unmarketable cringe while still not include everyone.


Strong no to rainbow people or alphabet people from me - it’s the sort of thing a homophobic person would say to be dismissive of us. I use “queer”, but I think this is location dependent. Where I’m from in the UK, people don’t use “queer” as an insult (but rather they use “fag” or “gay”) but in other places it has a different history.

I think the main thing is that you are being polite and specifically asking for input so your heart is in the right place. If you are speaking (rather than typing), I believe people will hear that you are being sincere and not dismissive even if you use the ‘wrong’ word.

Final suggestion: LGBTeeple (contraction of LGBT people) because it’s funny.


Copy that, is it the rainbow or the people part? Because “people” was just a placeholder to avoid having this thread pop up if someone googles my future message.

I like your portmanteau, but I think that my target audience is either without the English literacy level to decode it, or with just enough to recognize it as “LGBT sheeple”.

While realizing that I will never find the perfect term that will convey my message, while not rubbing someone the wrong way, I will continue my search.


I don’t really know what it is about “rainbow people” that I don’t like. To me, it makes an image in my head of a hillbilly shouting “dang nabbit, these god-darn rainbow people are invadin our schools and touchin our childun!”. Maybe it sounds like they didn’t want to dignify with a proper name and so described us as rainbow people because we all wear rainbows. But also it could just be my brain making weird connections


The LBGTQ : pronounced The luh-buh-guh-tuh-quah

The alphabet mafia

Or the southern version : all y’all


My two cents as a trans person: The Q (queer) is an umbrella term for everyone who didn’t fall under L G B or T, so adding anything after that is just unnecessary and begging for right wingers to make a joke out of it.

So “LGBTQ” is safest, but most of the time I just say “LGBT” tbh


I get where you’re coming from, but what about the wide swath of people in this post, who are not covered by the term? Like aromantics and asexuals?

begging for right wingers to make a joke out of it

Who’s to say I’m not kinda looking for it? Come at me, I’m angry, I sorta want a fight. I can hold my own in a debate, and if I can get you to expose your obsolete and inhumane views by attacking me, then YOU are the one who’s outed.


aromantics and asexuals

They’re covered by the term “queer” too because they’re not heterosexual. And if anyone identifies as “agender” they’d be covered by the Q too, since they’re not cisgender.

I’m angry, I sorta want a fight

I don’t think we have anything to fight about lol

Lycist, (edited )

I don't want to fight either!

Speaking as an aromantic though, I am very heterosexual. I just don't enjoy all the lovey dovey squishy romantic things.. Holding hands is mostly ok, anything beyond that kinda grosses me out. (Kissing is so weird...) I very much enjoy most of the more intimate physical things though.

Many aromantics enjoy physical relationships, but don't understand the more romantic aspects of them.


I’m not looking to fight anyone here. I’m sorry if I came across way. I want to stop my boomer coworkers from hurting LGTBQ people in our organization, and if that resolves in me debating my coworkers then that’s a fight I’m not gonna back down from… #imactuallynotverybadassjustextremelytired


I want to stop my boomer coworkers from hurting LGTBQ people

As a 70 year old lesbian, I'd like to suggest you might find some more allies in your organization, please don't assume all boomers are bigots. I have many grey haired allies. I doubt you're as alone as you think you are, but maybe you're just more "out" than they are. Give them the chance to come out and join you.


Oooh I see what you meant now lol. But yeah, I feel you.

What’s funny is that a lot of my coworkers would shit-talk trans people until they learned I was transitioning. Now all of the sudden they’re more nuanced and understanding 🤔


Do you call them boomers to their faces?


Last time I did was today, but that was in a teasing funny setting, and to a person I hold a great deal of respect for.

I wouldn’t in a discussion, I hate name calling, it’s counter productive. But in my mind…


But it exists in your head, right? Like you have mentally categorised an age of people as boomers, and you’re associating a behaviour with that category?

The reason I say is that age is also a protected category…


Hmm I guess you’re right… I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

I think I describe the behavior more than the age group, but I still see what you’re saying. Thanks for call me out on it.

gerryflap, avatar

I’m aro/ace and I don’t really say anything more than LGBT or LGBT+ myself. I’m not really a fan of the whole alphabet soup acronym, it doesn’t make conversation any easier. I don’t speak for everyone though, some people clearly like the name including everyone. Personally I tend to even omit the + or Q after the first time of saying because otherwise it’s still a mouthful.

1984, avatar

The rainbow people. :)


“L G that thing there that gets more letters every few weeks”


I find the full abbreviation to be a bit of a mouthful when speaking, so I sometimes prefer use “rainbow”, for example in the context of “rainbow rights” instead. I consider it as inclusive as can be, and people understand what I mean.

I’m a cis straight man, so I may have missed something.


I liked rainbow too. But it would seem that some of the other commenters have a strong issue with “rainbow people” as it have been used dismissive towards them.

A one size fits all label seems impossible to find for this diverse group of fellow humans.


Personally I prefer just “sexual minority” as LGBTQ comes with political backage that I prefer not to be associated with.

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