Common Questions

This is a handy acronym that summarizes the subcommunities that are marginalized in regards to sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. The acronym often stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Queer, Pansexual, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic/Agender.

Transgender is an umbrella term for individuals whose gender identity is different from the one assigned to them at birth. Transgender individuals may identify as women, men, neither, both, or something else entirely. Some common identities under this umbrella include genderqueer, gender non-conforming, non-binary, agender, Two-Spirit (used by some indigenous Native American communities), trans woman, and trans man. Often, transgender will be shortened to trans.

The word queer has often used been as an insult.  Many people in the community have decided to reclaim the word to take away others' power to hurt them. It is also useful as a word that encompasses all identities under the LGBT+ umbrella or to note a political identity. However, you should only call someone queer if they have indicated that they are okay with that word being used for themselves. 

In 1978 Gilbert Baker proposed the idea of a rainbow flag to the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in response to their request for a symbol that could be used every year. Today, the rainbow flag continues to be a symbol for the colorful diversity, optimism, and strength of LGBTQ+ movements worldwide.

The pink triangle, the most widely recognized of all LGBTQ symbols, was derived from Nazi Death camps in WWII. Gay and bisexual men were forced to wear pink triangles to mark them, as Jews wore the yellow Star of David. The LGBTQ liberation movement adopted the triangle to turn a symbol of degradation into one of pride. Lesbian and bisexual women, who were not singled out in the camps, were sometimes arrested instead as sex workers and forced to wear the black triangle worn by those branded as criminals.

In the early 1970s, in the wake of the Stonewall Uprising (in which queer and transgender folks of color fought back against police harassment and repression), New York City's Gay Activists Alliance selected the Greek letter lambda as its emblem. Since then the lambda letter has spread throughout the world as a frequent symbol for gay rights organizations, such as the Lambda Legal Defense Fund (an LGBTQ rights legal services organization).

Connections between purple and ancient gay and queer stories and traditions indicate that lavender has considerably more significance than the mixture of "female red" and "male blue" colors. Purple represents, brings about, and is present during radical transformation from one state of being to another.

No. The reality is that being LGBTQ+ is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the official manual that lists mental and emotional disorders. Two years later, the American Psychological Association resolved to support the removal. Ever since, both associations have urged all mental health professionals to help dispel the stigma of mental illness associated with same gender attraction.

LGBTQ+ people tell others about their LGBTQ+ identity (often referred to as "coming out") because sharing that aspect of themselves with others is important to their mental health. In fact, the process of identity development for lesbian, gay, bi, and queer people has been found to be strongly related to psychological adjustment—the more positive the lesbian, gay, bi, or queer identity, the better one's mental health and the higher one's self-esteem.

While HIV affects Americans from all walks of life, the epidemic continues to disproportionately impact gay and bisexual men[1], transgender women, youth ages 13-24 and communities of color, particularly in the southern United States. While tremendous medical advances have helped HIV-positive individuals live longer, healthier lives, there remains no cure and tens of thousands of new infections occur every year. Insufficient funding for HIV programs, as well as prevention methods that are not scientifically sound and persistent stigma and discrimination continue to make it difficult to fight the epidemic and provide the best possible care to those living with HIV.

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) can reduce your chance of getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is safe and highly effective for preventing HIV.