LGBTIQA+ 101: A quick guide by Queer Town

Published 07 May 2024

Hey folks!
It’s Archie here, founder and director at Queer Town. We deliver LGBTIQA+ inclusion and allyship training to workplaces and schools across the country and we’re excited to be working closely with GMHBA to provide education and support to their teams and members.
So let’s talk about language. If you’re not feeling up to speed with the various groups represented by the LGBTIQA+ acronym, or you’re new to talking about pronouns, then this beginner’s guide is a great place to start!


What does LGBTIQA+ stand for?

You may have noticed that the language surrounding our LGBTIQA+ communities has changed a bit over time. This is because with an increase in research and consultation, our understanding of LGBTIQA+ identities and experiences has evolved.

Here’s what the letters within the acronym stand for today:

  • Lesbian – Typically someone who identifies as a woman attracted to other women.
  • Gay – Typically someone who is attracted to others of the same gender.
  • Bisexual – Typically someone who is attracted to multiple genders.
  • Trans and gender diverse – Typically individuals who identify with a gender that differs from expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth.
  • Intersex – Individuals born with innate sex characteristics that don’t fit medical norms for female or male bodies.
  • Queer – An umbrella term for individuals who may identify with one or more groups within LGBTIQA+.
  • Asexual / Aromantic – Typically someone who experiences low or no sexual attraction to others / Someone who experiences low or no romantic attraction to others.
  • + – The plus symbol acknowledges that there are even more communities and identities out there beyond the acronym.

You may see or hear different iterations of the acronym, like: LGBT, LGBTI, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA. Although there’s no ‘official acronym’, generally speaking: more letters = more inclusive, because more communities are being acknowledged. That’s why we recommend: LGBTIQA+.

A question I often receive during a Queer Town workshop is: “Can’t we just use an umbrella term, like ‘rainbow community?’”

The reality is, although ‘rainbow community’ can be easier to say (due to having fewer syllables), the term is seen as quite a corporate one. I know for myself and my friends who are part of the LGBTIQA+ community, we don’t identify as ‘rainbow people.’ In my personal opinion, it can also detract from the real challenges and inequalities we still face on a day-to-day basis, due to its association with parties and unicorns and glitter.

The grouping term ‘queer community,’ on the other hand, is one I often use in my personal life, however it’s important to be aware that not everyone within the LGBTIQA+ community identifies with the term, particularly due to its violent and derogatory history. At Queer Town, we have joined the movement to reclaim the term ‘queer’ as an empowering one, but we acknowledge that it’s not all-encompassing. That’s why ‘LGBTIQA+’ is a great option, particularly in professional settings, as it’s considered to be the most inclusive.

What’s the difference between: sex, gender and sexuality?

Although they’re often confused or conflated, it’s important to remember that sex, gender and sexuality are three different terms, with three different meanings.

Put simply, a person’s sex refers to the physiological traits of their body, a person’s gender refers to their sense of identity, and a person’s sexuality refers to their attraction to others, romantic and/or physical.

If you reflect on the definitions for LGBTIQA+ listed above, you’ll notice they each refer back to sex, gender or sexuality in some way.

I know that for some people, your sense of gender identity or sexuality remains the same throughout your life. Whereas, for others (like myself), these parts of our identity are more fluid and can shift and change over time as we learn more about ourselves.

Let’s talk about pronouns

We’ve always used them, we’re just talking about them in new ways. Essentially, pronouns are a way to refer to someone when we’re not using their name.

Here are the most commonly used pronouns in our English-speaking society:


  • She/her – typically used by individuals who identify as girls or women (regardless of sex assigned at birth).
  • He/him – typically used by individuals who identify as boys or men (regardless of sex assigned at birth).
  • They/them – typically used by individuals who identify beyond the traditional gender binary and identify with the gender diverse community. While some argue that 'they' is exclusively plural, rest assured that it is grammatically correct to use it as a singular pronoun as well.
  • She/they or He/they or She/he/they – some individuals identify interchangeably with different pronoun combinations. For example, a female who feels a connection with their sex assigned at birth but experiences a fluidity in their gender identity may resonate with she/they pronouns.
  • Using a person's name – for some people, they may ask that others simply use their name, rather than a gendered pronoun, when addressing them. Broadly speaking, if you’re having a short interaction with someone and you don’t feel it’s appropriate to ask their pronouns, you can always refer to them by their name instead.

As a society, we’re continually learning that a person’s identity and/or pronouns can’t safely be assumed based on their appearance or clothing. In order to learn how someone identifies or what pronouns they use, we need to either ask respectfully – if it’s appropriate and relevant to do so – or wait until that person decides to share that information with us.

When addressing others, a useful tip is to opt for non-gendered language where possible. For example, rather than addressing a group as “ladies and gentleman” or “guys”, we can use terms like: “everyone”, “folks” or “team”.

The goal is not to eradicate the use of gendered language altogether, rather, the goal is to find ways to make our interactions even more inclusive.

In the podcast episode LGBTIQA+ inclusion and allyship, I discuss how to use and discuss pronouns in conversation. If this is new to you or you’re nervous about the prospect, I recommend listening to the podcast and practicing it a few times with yourself.

I’d like to finish by saying: Take it easy on yourself. This language is new to a lot of us. I’m willing to guess most of you didn’t learn this in school or through the TV shows you watched growing up. Heck, the internet may not have even existed yet! Like anything in language, it takes time (and practice!) to learn something new.

As long as you’re coming from a place of respect and a willingness to learn, I’m certain many LGBTIQA+ folks will meet you with appreciation and understanding.

Thank you for your allyship.



For more information on how you can support LGBTIQA+ people and foster inclusivity in your community, family or workplace, listen to the 25 minute podcast LGBTIQA+ inclusion and allyship with Archie Beetle. 

If you’d like to learn more about the work that Queer Town does, or if you’re interested in booking them to speak at your workplace or event, be sure to head to or find them on Instagram at: @queertown_
Archie Beetle headshot

Archie Beetle (they/them) is the Founder and Director at Queer Town, a queer-led training organisation delivering educational workshops in workplaces, schools and events across Australia, with a focus on LGBTIQA+ inclusion and allyship. Some of Queer Town’s clients include: The Australian Ballet, Cotton On Group, GMHBA and City of Melbourne.

During their career, Archie has led the establishment of LGBTIQA+ advisory boards and working groups at a number of Victorian institutions, including: Melbourne Museum, The Immigration Museum and Scienceworks, and has served as a board member at Proud2Play, a not-for-profit increasing LGBTIQA+ engagement in sport and exercise.

Archie's mission is to educate with empathy and create inclusive workplaces and schools where LGBTIQA+ people can show up authentically.


Photographer credit: Charlie Brophy, 2024 (