Hearing a story is an opportunity for you, the listener, to show up more fully in your humanity because what you do with it makes you an agent of change.Mass Story Lab
According to Very Well Mind and the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or sometimes questioning), intersex and asexual. The “plus” represents the limitless sexual orientations and gender identities used by members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The term LGBTQIA+ has been evolving to better represent the diverse community. In the 1990s, lesbian, gay and bisexual activists began using LGB and LGBT.
Today, we will take a storytelling approach to read, hear and watch stories by people within the LGBTQIA+ community. Before you begin the storytelling portion, take a few minutes to review the shared definitions of LGBTQIA+.
The Human Rights Campaign defines each letter within LGBTQIA+ as the following:
L – Lesbian | A woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women. Women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.
G – Gay | Gay has been a term often connected to men. However, the use of the term gay may refer to a person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. Men, women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.
B – Bisexual (bi) | A person emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree. Sometimes used interchangeably with pansexual. The recognition of bisexual individuals is important, since there have been periods when people who identify as bi have been misunderstood as being gay.
T – Transgender | An umbrella term, including both binary and nonbinary identities, for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.
Q- Queer | A term people often use to express a spectrum of identities and orientations that are counter to the mainstream. Queer is often used as a catch-all to include many people, including those who do not identify as exclusively straight and/or folks who have non-binary or gender-expansive identities. This term was previously used as a slur but has been reclaimed by many parts of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Q- Questioning | A term used to describe people who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.
I – Intersex | Intersex people are born with a variety of differences in their sex traits and reproductive anatomy. There is a wide variety of difference among intersex variations, including differences in genitalia, chromosomes, gonads, internal sex organs, hormone production, hormone response and/or secondary sex traits.
A – Asexual | Often called “ace” for short, asexual refers to a complete or partial lack of sexual attraction or lack of interest in sexual activity with others. Asexuality exists on a spectrum, and asexual people may experience no, little or conditional sexual attraction.
+ – Plus | The plus is used to recognize the limitless sexual orientations and gender identities used by members of our community, such as Two-Spirit, a pan-Indigenous American identity, and pansexual, someone who is attracted – either emotionally, physically or both – to all genders.
Our stories allow us to see the rich diversity in our human experience, even among people who are part of the same identity group. As you review some of the stories below, take time to notice how the stories are the same and how they are different.
Glenda Elliott grew up in Mayfield, Georgia during the 1940s. She met the love of her life — a woman named Lauree. Glenda sat down with her friend to tell the story of a lifelong romance that never had the chance to blossom. Visual story here; transcript here (3 minutes).
David Wilson and Robert Compton, one of the first same-sex couples to be married in the United States, reflect on their journey, nearly 15 years after their historic wedding. Podcast and transcript here (4 minutes).
Watch a project from GLAAD where bisexual people tell their stories at Stonewall for #BiWeek (2 minutes).
At the age of 63, Dee Westenhauser came out as a transgender woman. She remembers growing up in El Paso, Texas in the 1950s and the one person who made her feel like herself. Visual story here; transcript here (2:30 minutes).
A collection of stories from trans women of color, who have often been the first to stand up for equality, and the last to be recognized for their contributions. Podcast and transcript here (15 minutes).
Kiyan Williams has a conversation with their friend Darnell Moore about growing up feeling different than other kids and grappling with his family’s expectations. Today, Kiyan works with LGBTQ youth in New York City. Podcast and transcript here (3 minutes).
Hiker Chiu is a Taiwanese intersex human rights activist who started the “Global free hugs with intersex” campaign at Taipei’s LGBT Pride Parade in 2010. Read Hiker Chiu’s story on how A Hug a Day Keeps Hate Away (4 minutes).
Watch this interview series where 5 Asexual People Explain What Asexual Means to Them (5 minutes).