What is LGBTQIA+

Eeetttssss Pride Month. We have LGBTQIA+ everywhere around us, they’re either not visible to us or we unintentionally deny their existence. So, here is a go-to reference for anyone who wants to know, or create a safe space for their queer friends and fam but just haven’t been exposed to these terms. 🌈💖
LGBTQIA+ is a collective phrase for: Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders, Queers, Intersex and Asexuals. The plus sign denotes the scope of inclusion of anyone who does not identify with any of these labels.
  1.  Sex: Biological, assigned at birth, based on genitals, chromosomes and secondary sex characteristics.
  2. Gender: Social Construct, a performance based on norms set by a community or culture. It is not a binary, where you have a male, a female and the third or neuter gender. It is a fluid concept and can be independent of what reproductive organs we carry.
  3. Sexuality: The way people express and experience themselves sexually. Sexual Orientation is an integral part of all mammals in their very being. One can be heterosexual (attracted to opposite sex), homosexual (attracted to same sex), bisexual (attracted to both sexes), pansexual (attracted to people irrespective of gender and sex), asexual (not attracted to any sex). All of these are perfectly normal, none of them needs to be cured, and hundreds of species of mammals exhibit all of the above.
  4. Lesbians: Women who are attracted sexually and/or emotionally to other women.
  5. Gays: Men who are attracted sexually and/or emotionally to other men.
  6. Bisexuals: Men Or Women who are attracted to both, men and women. Bisexuality is often misunderstood as promiscuity. Bisexuals are not half heterosexual or half homosexuals, they are 100% bisexuals. Irrespective of the gender of their current partner, they are still bisexuals. Bisexuals may or may not have equal preference for both sexes. A Bisexual man may form deep fulfilling emotional and sexual attachments with another men, but only experience emotional attachments of romantic nature with women and not sexual attachments. It does not erase their bisexuality. Bisexuals do choose monogamous relationships even if attracted to both sexes. It’s a personal decision.
  7. Transgenders:  If one feels comfortable in their physical bodies, they are called Cis-Genders. If one feels that their physical bodies do not represent who they actually are, they are called Trans-Genders. Some Transpersons choose to get surgeries to alter their sex in order to be in harmony with their bodies, some choose not to. A surgery is not a “cure” because there is nothing to be cured. It is a choice made by an individual for purely personal reasons.
  8. Queer: An umbrella term that includes people of genders and sexualities that are not exclusively heterosexual. The term was used in a derogatory and offensive manner, however it has been reclaimed by the community to remove the sting of it’s pejorative overtones.
  9. Intersex: Individuals born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones or genitals that do not fit the typical definitions of male or female bodies.
  10. Asexuals: People who do not experience sexual attraction to any gender or sex. However love does not equal sex. Asexuals can still form deep fulfilling romantic relationships with people of same or opposite or both sexes. Asexuals often are invisible within the queer community as well as in the representation of cinema and literature. As with everything else, asexuality is not a disease or abnormality and does not need any fixing.
  11. Ally: Someone who has a concern for the well-being of the people belonging to the queer community. They regularly check their privileges, biases and confront queerphobia. They play an important role in creating safe spaces and more inclusive world. Organisations such as SBNN (Straight But Not Narrow) help create awareness and build a community of allies.
  12. Heteronormative: A world view that promotes Heterosexuality as normal and preferred orientation. It assumes that sex and marriage between man and woman is normal and natural, while others deviant. Indian culture is heteronormative. Heteronormativity takes away the fundamental rights of expression, liberty, dignity and fraternity of the queer folks, and pushes people into closets whilst they pretend to be heterosexuals. We naturally assume people to be cisgender-heterosexuals and address them/ask them questions in a manner which are an assault on their dignity and rights.
  13. Coming Out: The process of accepting and coming to terms with one’s identity, and/or sharing it with others. Due to heteronormative culture, it is never an easy task even for the most privileged desi queer folks. Every coming out experience is unique, and sometimes people have to keep coming out for their entire lives. People lose friends, family, face ostracisation and sometimes criminal abuse. However, it is coming face to face with your most fundamental truth and wearing it like an armour. Out and proud queer people sign up for lifetime of courage and authenticity. It is an extraordinary privilege if a queer person decides to come out to you.
  14. Legal Status: In a historic judgment in September 2018, Hon’ble Supreme Court of India decriminalised homosexuality by scrapping Section 377 of Indian Penal Code. It has been very categorical in extending equal rights under Articles 14,15,16,19,20 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. It is a beautifully pronounced judgment that I shall elaborate on, in later post.

Lastly, for this post, I will end by emphasizing that no matter where one lies on the spectrum, it is not a disease or an abnormality. It is as natural as Sunlight and Gravity. The statements of Psychiatric Associations, Clinical Psychologists Associations et al have further made it clear without mincing words. No amount of lehsun chowmein jadi booti babas electric shocks can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Rest of the world has moved on, its high time we catch up. World and Indian History is replete with the contributions of queer folks who have made our world a better place. If you’re cis-het, I hope you can be an ally. If you’re queer, you’re certainly not alone or powerless. Life is beautiful and you do have a shot at getting all that you so truly deserve. 💞🏳️‍🌈Leave me any questions you may have. Happy to engage!



  1. For the definitions of LGBT, I referred to “Orientation & Gender Identity – A New Province of Law for India, J. Michael D. Kirby, Tagore Lectures, 2013”.
  2. My understanding of Sexual Orientation, Heteronormativity and Coming Out is derived in  theory by reading of Yogyakarta Principles, and American Psychological Association’s- “Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality,” 2008; and in practice by experiences of self, friends and personal narratives of people on their social media/newspaper Op-Eds etc. My understanding was further supplemented by a thorough reading of the Supreme Court of India’s judgment of Navtej Singh Johar and others Vs UOI, 2018; Mental Health Act 2017, and Position statements of IACP and MHI.
  3. For all concepts and definitions, I understand that they are constantly evolving and changing. I have not quoted anything verbatim from any source and this is merely intended to share something that I have learnt. These writings are more of personal notes, and do not hold any academic validity and cannot be used as a reference for medicolegal purposes.

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