LGBTQ…Knowing the Facts

Posted on August 18, 2011

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In July, New York became the sixth state to legalize same sex marriages, joining the ranks of Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.  Across the nation, public opinion is generally in favor of same sex civil unions or marriages.

Because the LGBTQ community is more visible in mainstream society, it is important that some basic facts regarding sexual orientation and gender identity are clarified.

LGBTQ is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning.


Lesbian and gay people are attracted to those of their same sex.

Bisexual people are attracted to both men and women.

Transgender refers to those persons whose physical sexual organs do not match the gendered emotions they feel.

Questioning is a term generally used to describe those who are unsure about their sexual orientation or identity.

According to The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the term “queer” is defined as a “traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some LGBT people to describe themselves. However, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting or describing someone who self-identifies that way.”

Mental Health America also notes that homosexuality and transgender differ in that homosexuality refers to one’s sexual orientation (who they are attracted to), and transgender refers to one’s gender identity (how they express masculine and feminine qualities)

Homosexuality does NOT impair one’s physical or emotional health.  In fact, in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association recognized that homosexuality as a normal human behavior.  Since then other health organizations have recognized this too.

If you know any member of the LGBTQ community, it’s best to be supportive.  Remember that understanding one’s sexual orientation and identity can be daunting.

In Boston, there are a number of LGBTQ youth and adult support groups:

Fenway Health

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth Support Project

For more information, please contact the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050.

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