LGBTQ+: What Does the Q+ Stand For?

With the passing of time, so many sexual identity and gender labels have changed. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the word LGBT started being used to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Now, ‘Q’ and ‘+’ have made their way to the scene as more and more people are finding the four letters not inclusive enough of the entire queer community. With these changes have come some confusion as to what the ‘Q’ and ‘+’ actually represent. This confusion is for good reason too as there is no official stance on what the ‘Q’ actually stands for!

What ‘Q’ Stands For

There are two commonly used words in relation to ‘Q’; Queer and questioning.

Queer is essentially an umbrella terms used to describe all of the letters (LGBT) and more. In fact, the reason Queer is making its way into the alphabet soup of letters (LGBT) is because it lacks a precise definition and label. Identifying as Queer could simply mean you don’t identify as heterosexual and/or cis-gender. This is perhaps why it’s so appealing to so many groups of people.

For instance, one of the groups ‘Queer’ appeals to is minority groups. Minority groups have an added layer of complexity to their sexuality and gender orientation as they interact with both racial and cultural issues and relating those issues to sexual orientation and gender identity. Another group that has been embracing the word ‘Queer’ is young people in high school and college.

Reclaiming the Word ‘Queer’

Although the term ‘Queer’ is now being used in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s also a known slur used against LGBTQ+ people. So, in one sense, ‘Queer’ is being reclaimed as the LGBTQ+ community use a word that was once used against them.

With that being said, there are still those within the LGBTQ+ community who find the word to be offensive, so it’s best if you only use it when someone has referred to themselves that way.

‘Q’ Is For Questioning

The second way ‘Q is used is to describe those who are questioning or exploring their gender or sexual identity. While ‘Queer’ is used more frequently than questioning, it is still a word that holds its own weight. If someone identifies as questioning it simply means they haven’t yet figured out how they want to identify.

What About That ‘+’

In addition to the ‘Q’ a ‘+’ sign is now frequently being used. The ‘+’ sign is used as “plus” in order to describe all the other gender and sexual orientations that don’t fit into the letters (LGBTQ+). So, for instance, intersex, asexual, aromantic, and pansexual are just a few other gender and sexual identities. There are dozens of other identities out there as well. So, the “+” represents the inclusivity of everyone regardless of their identifiers not fitting into the letters.

So there you have it. LGBTQ+ is just one set of initials that is continuing to evolve and change and shape the future of the Queer community, but at least you know the most current understanding of the acronym.

Addiction in the Gay Community

Unfortunately, drug addiction and alcoholism are wide spread problems that effect people from every walk of life. Addiction doesn’t discriminate based on race, religion, gender, or sexual preference. Addicts and alcoholics in the gay community struggle with addiction at much higher rates, however, and often find themselves facing challenges that other addicts never have to face.

When it comes to drug abuse, it is difficult to be entirely accurate. However, experts estimate that anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of people who identify as LGBTQ abuse at least one drug. The rates of drug abuse for those who don’t identify as LGBTQ have abuse rates of 9%.

For many of those in the gay community who abuse alcohol of other drugs, the reasons behind the abuse stem from hardships that come with being gay in a society that doesn’t always accept the lifestyle. This makes it more difficult for LGBTQ people seeking treatment to receive the right kind of care, which means that there is a higher number of relapse among LGBTQ people, since their support system can be harder to come by.

The use of party drugs, and especially heavy use of crystal meth, among homosexual men has been blamed for the spread of the AIDS virus in recent years. Meth is often mixed with alcohol by gay men. Unfortunately, those who abuse drugs are more likely to make irresponsible decisions, and many men who are under the influence of substances will engage in unsafe sex with strangers. This contributes not only to the spread of AIDS and HIV, but many other sexually transmitted diseases.

Studies are currently being conducted on why lesbians seem to have a higher than typical rate of abusing alcohol. The most current research shows that hazardous drinking is a symptom of being victimized in one form or another. Lesbian women can experience victimization in one form or another more intensely than those who do not identify as LGBTQ.

5 Things Only LGBT Couples Understand

The LGBT community has experienced long-awaited triumphs toward equality in the recent past. While same-sex couples have been around since the beginning of time, they are more are open about their relationships now than any time in history. Over 6 million Americans have come out on Facebook. In the past year alone, 800,000 Americans have changed their Facebook profiles to reflect same gender attraction.
With the Supreme Court decision in June that overturned bans on same-sex marriage, the community has experienced massive strides; however, many people still hold misconceptions about LGBT couples. Here are eight things that only gay and lesbian couples understand but would like for you to know.

1. They did not choose their sexual orientation.

Just as they did not choose the color of their eyes or skin, they did not choose their sexual orientation. It is innate to who they are. They understand that straight people do not just decide one day to be straight, and they wish people would understand that they do not decide to be gay. They cannot change whom they are attracted to.

2. Coming out is never a one-time event.

Although coming out to family and loved ones is usually the conversation that is most stressful, coming out is never a single, one-time-only event. It is a lifelong process that every LGBT person faces any time they meet new people, move, or change jobs. They must continually determine with whom and in what situations they want to reveal their sexual orientation.

3. They often feel the need to lead a double life.

If they have not yet come out, they may go to great lengths to keep their relationships hidden, such as telling others their partner is just a “roommate”, or worse, having their partner go elsewhere if someone is coming by for a visit. It can put stress on the relationship and takes tremendous effort to have both a public and private persona, but many still feel they have no choice.

4. They are excellent parents to happy, well-adjusted children.

LGBT couples have always known that sexual orientation has nothing to do with their ability to be a good parent. Studies conducted throughout the years confirm that children of gay and lesbian parents fare no differently than children of heterosexual parents. It is the quality of the relationship between parent and child that affects a child’s well-being, not the sexual orientation of the parent. LGBT couples love their kids no differently than their straight counterparts.

5. Being LGBT is not a lifestyle.

Just like every other couple on planet Earth, being LGBT is only one small facet of who they are, not their entire lifestyle. LGBT couples have jobs, pay bills, take out the garbage, go to school, raise kids, feed their pets, go grocery shopping, watch TV, have hobbies, go to church, and take part in the same activities as straight couples. It is these activities that make up their lifestyle, not their sexual orientation.

LGBT and Substance Abuse

The issue of LGBTQ health does not seem to get enough attention in the equality movement. While the conversation does typically involve suicide rates and mental health of the LGBTQ community, it is rare that substance abuse in the community is discussed. Recent studies have shown that while only about 9 percent of the general population suffers from substance abuse issues, 20 to 30 percent of the LGBTQ community suffers from substance abuse issues.

It’s not surprising that the stress and pressure associated with discrimination and stigma is a cause for this large amount of substance abuse. LGBTQ are turning to alcohol and other substances in large numbers as a way to escape from these stressors. So what is the solution to this problem? We have several thoughts on this issue.

If we want to decrease the rates of substance use in the LGBTQ community, we need to have a short-term and a long-term strategy. In the short term, treatment programs and rehabilitation centers need to become accessible for all addicts and alcoholics–including those in the LGBTQ community. In the long term, we need to urge our politicians and lawmakers to do more to fight discrimination and inequality in this country. We also need to better educate the youth so that true equality will be the way of the future.

We could do this in several ways. For example, we could create federal protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. We could also incorporate social justice and equality courses in our middle and high schools so that our youth are educated in a way that will help them to accept the diverse landscape of the present and the future.

There is a lot to do in the fight to end substance abuse in the LGBTQ community. Addressing this problem has its difficulties, but it is a necessary step on the road to true equality. If you or a loved one is having substance abuse problems, it is absolutely essential that you seek out a rehabilitation facility like to get the treatment you deserve.

Restricted Filter on YouTube Classifying LGBT Videos as Inappropriate

YouTube has a restricted mode, which filters videos with the goal to keep young people from stumbling upon inappropriate content. Unfortunately, it has been discovered that videos that do not contain inappropriate content made by members of the LGBTQ community are being blocked as well.

The restricted function was introduced by YouTube in 2010. It is intended mostly for organizations and institutions for youth such as schools so that they can control content. When restricted mode is enabled, videos that are violent, obscene, or related to certain illnesses like eating disorders or addiction are no longer searchable. Unfortunately, a number of videos with keywords like “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” and “transsexual” are also being categorized as “possibly inappropriate” when in restricted mode and cannot be viewed.

Among those who have been affected is the German non-profit organization queerblick e.V. Of their 462 videos, only 7 have not been blocked while in restricted mode. Other videos with titles such as “Coming out as trans” and “Nic tells his story” have been tagged as “possibly inappropriate” and blocked while in restricted mode.

Paul Klammer founded this organization in 2009 with the mission of providing young people in the LGBTQ community with some authentic role models and positive content. He described the revelation that the majority of their videos were hidden in restricted mode as being disappointing.

YouTuber, Rowan Ellis, has also been affected by this. She has said, “There are a lot of people, both young and old, who are very afraid and don’t feel at home in their bodies. These people have often been helped by online videos, because they couldn’t talk about it to anyone.” In some cases, these people have not been able to access her videos, and she is incredibly frustrated.

YouTube has issued a statement admitting that the function needs to be adjusted, and they have said they are working on it. However, nothing has happened since the release of the statement. Some users have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #youtubeisoverparty. Ellis says, “It’s not intended as a call for a boycott; it’s more of a symbolic appeal. And we’ll keep saying it loud until YouTube makes some changes.”

Recent Study Proves Discrimination against “Gay-Sounding” Voices

Recently, a study has shown that potential employees who have a “gay-sounding” voice are being discriminated against in the workplace and in heterosexual social circles. The University of Surrey conducted the study, which asked 40 heterosexual men in Italy to determine the salary and stability of job candidates for a fictional position based on vocal recordings and photographs, as reported by the Daily Mail.

While the sexual orientation of the candidates was unknown, participants in the survey stated that male applicants who had “gay-sounding voices” were not as suitable for the position and should not be paid as much as the candidates who were “heterosexual-sounding.” Women who had huskier voices and “lacked femininity” were also given lower evaluations.

Lead researcher of the study, Dr. Fabio Fasoli, has said, “It is revealing, that despite all the work to lessen discrimination against the LGBT community, people subconsciously typecast an individual before getting to know them. This study highlights that it can be a real problem in the workplace and for people’s career prospects.”

Participants in the study also said that they would be less likely to socialize with the speakers who had “gay-sounding” voices. Fasoli added, “This study demonstrates that unacceptable levels of discrimination, be they subconscious or conscious, still exists in our society, and we need to do more to tackle the discrimination faced by the LGBT community.”

This study does indeed illuminate that we as a society still have a long way to go. While we continue to make progress in legal ways and laws that grant equality to LGBTQ citizens, we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to discrimination and subconscious stereotypes.