What does the ‘L’ in LGBTQ stand for? What identifying as lesbian means.

According to a 2022 Gallup poll, 7.1% of US adults self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or something other than heterosexual.

As we begin to learn more about the Colorado Springs shooting and the community mourning those who lost their lives and were injured at Club Q, some have questions about how to support their LGBTQ+ loved ones.

The best first step is to learn about the community. Asking your LGBTQ+ friends and family is an option, but be mindful of placing the burden of your education on others when there are so many resources at your disposal.

LGBTQ resources: How to help Club Q victims after Colorado Springs shooting

What does the ‘L’ in LGBTQ stand for?

The L in LGBTQ stands for lesbians. LGBTQ is an acronym that’s an identifier, and it has changed over the last few decades, adding new letters to the lineup.

What each letter in LGBTQ means:

  • L: Lesbians

  • M: Gays

  • B: Bisexual

  • T: Transgender (differences from the rest of the acronym as it relates to gender identity)

  • Q: Added to the lineup at the turn of the century to represent people identifying as queer, a more ambiguous term (reclaimed since its use as a derogatory term for LGBTQ individuals) allowing people to avoid rigid labels. Some also take the Q to mean questioning.

In recent years, many have added I and A — intersex and asexual — to the acronym. Additionally, a plus sign is often attached at the end to include identities in the community which may not fit into the other letters, such as pansexual, polyamorous, two-spirited or others who don’t want to label their sexuality.

The L in LGBTQ stands for lesbians.  Lesbian refers to a woman who is romantically, physically and/or sexually attracted to other women.

The L in LGBTQ stands for lesbians. Lesbian refers to a woman who is romantically, physically and/or sexually attracted to other women.

The ‘B’ in LGBTQ: History, definition, difference between bisexual and pansexual

Learn more: LGBTQ definitions everyone should know

What does lesbian mean?

Lesbian refers to a woman who is romantically, physically and/or sexually attracted to other women. Some nonbinary people, or those whose gender identities are outside of the gender binary of solely male and female, may also identify with this term.

Lesbian women can be attracted to lesbians, bisexual women, pansexual women, among others. According to the 2022 Gallup poll, around 14% of L US adults self-identify as lesbians.

The word lesbian derives from the name of the Greek island of Lesbos, which was home to the poet Sappho. Of Sappho’s available works, she focused on her love of women and their beauty.

“Lesbian” was first used to describe sexual relations between two women in 1870. The terms “sapphist” and “sapphism” were used interchangeable with the words lesbian and homosexual until the turn of the 20th century.

What does the ‘Q’ in LGBTQ stand for? How the word ‘queer’ was reclaimed.

What are the colors of the lesbian flag?

While there is no official one lesbian flag, there are various which represent the lesbian community.

The labrys lesbian flag was created in 1999 and features a white labrys in an inverted black triangle on a purple backdrop. In the 1970s, the labrys was adopted by the lesbian feminist community as a symbol of empowerment. The use of the inverted black triangle reclaims the symbol once used by Nazi Germany to identify lesbian women in concentration camps.

In 2018, a new flag was created featuring a seven-stripe layout with the colors ranging from orange to pink shades. The colors represent:

LGBTQ Pride flags go beyond the classic rainbow. Here’s what each one means


If you’re questioning your identity or looking for how best to support your LGBTQ loved ones, these resources can help. Find organizations with free education, crisis intervention, peer support and information below:

  • Trevor Project: Call 866-488-7386, Text 678-678

    • 24/7 Year round crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.


    • 400+ chapters across the country providing confidential peer support, education, and advocacy to LGBTQ+ people, their parents and families, and allies.

  • Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741

  • The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: 888-843-4564

  • The GLBT National Youth Talkline: (800) 246-7743


  • Outright International


  • It Gets Better Project

  • Human Rights Campaign

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What does the ‘L’ in LGBTQ stand for? Identifying as lesbian meaning