LGBT or GLBT? Which one is it?


I have heard the question asked before whether the Gay, Lesbian, Bi Sexual, Transgender community are referred to as LGBT or GLBT more often? Why are there two acronyms that essentially point to the same outcome? Where did they come from and why do different people use LGBT or GLBT? These are personal accounts of how I remember the whole GLBT vs. LGBT debate.

Back when I was younger the “T” was silent and anyone who was “Queer” was considered just that. Neither gender nor sexuality factored into being under the “queer” umbrella. You were just different. Soon America loosened its morality belt and people started becoming more open about sexuality and how to express it. An explosion of new terms hit the scene as the gay movement was gaining momentum and cocaine was being introduced as the new drug of choice!

In the late 60s early 70s “LGB” was a pretty common term on the west coast. But in a short amount of time the”G” bumped the “L” out for front dominance. The Stonewall Riots were really a kick off point for the entire movement on a broad scale. The timing was perfect as the nation was beginning to pay attention to an entire sub class that they had ignored previously. Now armed with an identify that most people could recognize, the queer community marched on for equal rights and recognition. This was dominantly lead by a male force. No surprise.

Along with gay rights, women’s rights were a hot topic. Before the term lesbian became the normal nomenclature, most women that preferred their own to fulfill their sexual needs were just labeled as gay within the community. You would often hear “The gay girl” or “he-she”. I cannot remember when I first heard the term lesbian being used to identify gay women, but I do remember that not long after the word entered my vocabulary, “LGB” was the norm.

But as I mentioned previously, the movement was lead by mostly men like Carl Wittman, Adrian Ravarour, and Billy Garrison. Soon it was somewhat acceptable to be openly gay. But it was still seen as a men’s issue by large, even though an openly gay female politician named Kathy Kozachenko was just elected to a local office in Michigan. At the same time however, the rock band Queen was tearing up the scene and Freddy Mercury was a smashing sensation lending some credence to the notion that homosexuals where everywhere! Once the masses started recognizing this, “LGB” was soon “GLB”. For the most part a lot of people that were new to the gay rights movement used “GLB”. (Most did not even ask what the “B” was).

But never underestimate the gumption of the female species. Women did not want to be lumped into the same category as the men. They were fighting for their own independence and the abandonment of the stereotypical society views on them from the 50s and 60s. They wanted their own rights as a gender and sexuality. I cannot recall exactly when people started using “LGB” again over” GLB”, but for me it seem to go straight from “GLB” to “LGBT”. Call it shivery. Never the less I remember meeting many passionate women during my travels that had the same fire in their heart for equal rights as the men did.

One of my favorite lines from Anchorman: The legend of Ron Burgundy:

You know, times are changing. Ladies can do stuff now and you’re going to learn how to deal with it.

Ahh so true Mr. Danny Trejo.

Soon most people that I knew used “LGBT” over “GLBT”. In reality, there never was a “GLBT” in my circle because the “T” was not really introduced until “LGB” was the norm once again. But that is another debate. Now we have added a “Q”, then another “Q”, and an “I” and an “A”. I just recently learned about Pansexuality, but haven’t seen the “P” yet. So to simplify things it does not matter if people use “LGBT or GLBT” or some other variation. It really depends on the when and where you were exposed to the homosexual culture and also the people around you at that time. How we refer to ourselves tells a lot about us. As a gay man in his later years, the term queer is not so offensive. But I remember a time when men younger than me were absolutely offended by it.

From now until I leave this earth, if your sexuality falls outside of heterosexuality, I will refer to you as part of the LGBT community no matter how many more letter we tack on the end. Just call me old fashioned I guess.

Editors note:

The LGBT or GLBT discussion above was written by a personal friend of mine, named James, after asking him about how he refereed to the gay community growing up.  James has been an activist for the LGBT community for 50 + years and currently resides in Atlanta. Discuss your views in this tread :

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