Are you looking at the title and trying to piece together what LGBTQ+ means? In short, LGBTQ+ is lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual and queer. It's okay if this is the first time you're learning this, you're not alone. There's a stark number of people who are still learning about the rainbow community, even if you're part of the community you can find yourself constantly learning new things and about new identities.
Growing up in the UK, this was something that I was never taught in school. Thanks to Margaret Thatcher's ban on any type of gay education, I was raised in a very much hetro-normative world. So when I slowly began to realize that I liked girls in a way that was different to my school friends, I hid this part of myself from view, buried it, didn't talk about it, didn't acknowledge it. It was only when I turned 24 that I decided it was time to fully come out of the closet and live my life in all its rainbow glory.
Because of the lack of education in my formative years, I found out much about the LGBT community when I was in my early 20s, thanks in part to YouTube creators, talking about their own journey and reading what was available on the web. By listening to, and reading up on resources, I was able to teach myself about the spectrum that exists with sexuality and gender identity. Everything from being gay, to being pan-sexual, from transgender to gender queer and gender fluid. There's so much information out there, that we can't live in a world where ignorance continues to prevail.
For me, I'm a 'Femme gay woman,' because I don't present myself as masculine, or 'butch,' I fall under the femme stereotype. Which while this suits me and my personality, it does mean that I'm often mistaken for straight, which is really awkward depending on the conversation I'm in. If it's talking to a girl I like, who's also gay, then immediate correction is needed -- because after all I do live in a country where there's more sheep than single gay women -- however, there are times when letting it slide has occurred. I berate myself afterwards, but if it's not appropriate then for me permissible. If someone however, purposefully is telling me I should be straight because of how I look, then I tend to start a conversation on why they think that should be.
What this leads me to think, is that we're at a point now in society where labels don't really help us anymore. There's such a variety of sexual and gender diversity that the labels can be overwhelming. Rigid identity views and placing stereotypes on how people in the gay community should be, doesn't help to bring around progress. At the end of the day, people are more than their sexual identity and shouldn't be limited to where they fall on the rainbow spectrum.
So if you're learning about the LGBTQ+ community, don't worry, so are many. The key is being open to education. If you've got questions, don't hesitate to ask, it shows that you're willing to learn and not be ignorant about someone's identity. Most importantly, don't assume. By classifying someone's sexual identity based purely on how they present themselves, you could be mis-identifying them and the LGBT journey is a long one for us folks. Most importantly, show that you're an ally, because it's time to bring about change and end the persecution of LGTBQ+ people, that still exists in many parts of the world.
List of LGBTQ+ terms and definitions
ABCs of LGBT (Youtube Video)