That’s a lot of letters, and they each stand for something important.
Our culture is heteronormative. The way we generally think about intimate relationships stems from man/woman partnerships–sexually, emotionally, and romantically. That model works well for many people, and they are happy in those connections.
But there are people who don’t feel comfortable in those pairings. Those relationships don’t match their sexual desires, their sense of themselves, who or what they are or wish to be. Many people identify along gender, sexuality or relational dimensions somewhat differently.
There is value in labels and categories. Our minds are complex, but it’s hard to hold the full breadth of a human sexual continuum in our minds all at once. Having a word for a general category of people or behaviors is a helpful way to make sense of things. Labels also give people something to feel proud of, like being a Doctor, First Violinist, or Creative. Labels can set people apart in a way that feels good. As such, the acronym for people in the queer spectrum has lots of letters: L for Lesbian, G for Gay and so forth. But science is catching up to what people have been saying for a long time: gender, sexuality and relationships exist along continuum. Much like there are many shades of red (coral, magenta, burgundy, candy apple) there are many shades of how humans do sexual life, so words like “lesbian” might not mean the same thing to everyone who uses it.
Unfortunately that means the LGBTQIA acronym, rainbow though it may be in intent, ends up a little more black and white than is really true for the spectrum of human experience. We could keep adding letters, but it starts to miss the point, and isn’t really how people work. The leading think-tanks in sexuality research have begun to use GSRD as a more encompassing, more inclusive acronym for the broad range of how people do Gender, Sexuality, and Relationship Diversity. I like the term because its more inclusive, and allows people to explore where they sit on each facet—how they understand their gender, how they experience sexuality, and how they wish to be in relationships…or not.
Clients across all spectrums of identity are welcome in my practice, and welcome to explore their sexual, gendered and relational selves.