The LGBT community or GLBT community, commonly referred to as the gay community, is a loosely defined grouping of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) and LGBT-supportive people, organizations, and subcultures, united by a common culture and social movements. These communities generally celebrate pride, diversity, individuality, and sexuality. LGBT activists and sociologists see LGBT community-building as an antidote to heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexualism, and conformist pressures thought to exist in the larger society. The term gay pride is used to express the LGBT community's identity and collective strength; gay pride parades provide both a prime example of the use and a demonstration of the general meaning of the term. The LGBT community is diverse in political affiliation. Not all LGBT individuals consider themselves part of an LGBT community.

Groups that may be considered part of the LGBT community include gay villages, LGBT rights organizations, LGBT employee groups at companies, LGBT student groups in schools and universities, and LGBT-affirming religious groups.

LGBT communities may organize themselves into, or support, movements for civil rights promoting LGBT rights in various places around the world.

Countries like India have started to encourage the citizens of this community, with the Supreme Court of India recently making it mandatory to include this community as 3rd type of gender, in gender column of all Governmental/Official work and/or documents.


Main article: LGBT symbols

The gay community is frequently associated with certain symbols; especially the rainbow or rainbow flags. The Greek lambda symbol ("L" for liberation), triangles, ribbons, and gender symbols are also used as "gay acceptance" symbol. There are many types of flags to represent subdivisions in the gay community, but the most commonly recognized one is the rainbow flag. According to Gilbert Baker, creator of the commonly known rainbow flag, each color represents a value in the community:

  • pink = sexuality
  • red = life
  • orange = healing
  • yellow = the sun
  • green = nature
  • blue = art
  • indigo = harmony
  • violet = spirit

Later, pink and indigo were removed from the flag to lead to the present day flag which was first presented at the 1979 Pride Parade. Other flags include the Victory over AIDS flag, Leather Pride flag, and Bear Pride flag.[1]

The lambda symbol was originally adopted by Gay Activists Alliance of New York in 1970 after they broke away from the larger Gay Liberation Front. Lambda was chosen because people might confuse it for a college symbol and not recognize it as a gay community symbol unless one was actually involved in the community. "Back in December of 1974, the lambda was officially declared the international symbol for gay and lesbian rights by the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland." [1]

The triangle became a symbol for the gay community after the Holocaust. Not only did it represent Jews, but homosexuals who were killed because of German law. During the Holocaust, homosexuals were labeled with pink triangles to distinguish between them, Jews, regular prisoners, and political prisoners. The black triangle is similarly a symbol for females only to represent lesbian sisterhood.

Gender symbols have a much longer list of variations of homosexual/bisexual relationships which are clearly recognizable but may not be as popularly seen as the other symbols. Other symbols that relate to the gay community and/or gay pride include the gay-teen suicide awareness ribbon, AIDS awareness ribbon, labrys, and purple rhinoceros.

In the fall of 1995, the Human Rights Campaign adopted a logo (yellow equal sign on deep blue square) that has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The logo can be spotted the world over and has become synonymous with the fight for equal rights for LGBT people.

Human and legal rights

File:Evan Wolfson by David Shankbone.jpg

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry argued before the Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale and founded the modern same-sex marriage movement.

The LGBT community represents a social component of the global community that is believed by many, including heterosexual allies, to be underrepresented in the area of civil rights. The current struggle of the gay community has been largely brought about by globalization. In the United States, World War II brought together many closeted rural men from around the nation and exposed them to more progressive attitudes in parts of Europe. Upon returning home after the war, many of these men decided to band together in cities rather than return to their small towns. Fledgling communities would soon become political in the beginning of the gay rights movement, including monumental incidents at places like Stonewall. Today, many large cities have gay and lesbian community centers. Many universities and colleges across the world have support centers for LGBT students. The Human Rights Campaign,[2] Lambda Legal, the Empowering Spirits Foundation,[3][4] and GLAAD[5] advocate for LGBT people on a wide range of issues in the United States. There is also an International Lesbian and Gay Association. In 1947, when the United Kingdom adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), LGBT activists clung to its concept of equal, inalienable rights for all people, regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. The declaration does not specifically mention gay rights, but discusses equality and freedom from discrimination.[6]

File:Human Right Campaign headquarters.JPG

The headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign. One of the largest gay rights organizations in the United States.

Same-sex marriage

Main article: Same-sex marriage

In parts of the world, partnership rights or marriage have been extended to same-sex couples. Advocates of same-sex marriage cite a range of benefits that are denied to people who cannot marry, including immigration, health care, inheritance and property rights, and other family obligations and protections, as reasons why marriage should be extended to same-sex couples. Opponents of same-sex marriage within the gay community argue that fighting to achieve these benefits by means of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples privatizes benefits (e.g., health care) that should be made available to people regardless of their relationship status. They further argue that the same-sex marriage movement within the gay community discriminates against families that are composed of three or more intimate partners. Opposition to the same-sex marriage movement from within the gay community should not be confused with opposition from outside that community.


Main article: Media portrayal of LGBT people

The contemporary lesbian and gay community has a growing and complex place in the American & Western European media. The community has been targeted by marketers who view LGBT people as an untapped source of discretionary income, as many couples have a dual income with no children. Despite this, lesbians and gay men are still often portrayed negatively in television, films, and other media. The gay community is constantly battling with this negative media and overcoming stereotypes. LGBT identified people look just like any other person so the media puts an image on the gay community to make it as visible as a difference in skin color. There is currently a widespread ban of references in child-related entertainment, and when references do occur, they almost invariably generate controversy. In 1997, when American comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet on her popular sitcom, many sponsors, such as the Wendy's fast food chain, pulled their advertising.[7] Also, a portion of the media has attempted to make the gay community included and publicly accepted with television shows such as "Will and Grace" or "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy". This increased publicity reflects with the Coming out movement of the LGBT community. As more celebrities came out, more shows developed, such as the 2004 show "The L Word". In some pop culture, gays are purposely portrayed as overly promiscuous, flashy, or having a bold personality for entertainment's sake. In the United States, gay people are frequently used as a symbol of social decadence by celebrity evangelists and by organizations such as Focus on the Family. Many LGBT organizations exist to represent and defend the gay community. For example, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in the United States and Stonewall in the UK work with the media to help portray fair and accurate images of the gay community.

Much of the negative media that surrounds the gay community has to do with pride parades that turn into drag shows or riots. Opposition argues that such degrees of sexuality and nudity in public is not appropriate. News stories have typically identified the opposition to these demonstrations as led by Christian conservatives and not political figures.[8]

As companies are advertising more and more to the gay community, LGBT activists are using ad slogans to promote gay community views. Subaru marketed its Forester and Outback with the slogan "It's Not a Choice. It's the Way We're Built" which was later used in eight U.S. cities on streets or in gay rights events.[9]

Buying power

Main article: Pink money

According to Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc. and, the 2006 buying power of U.S. gays and lesbians was approximately $660 Billion and is expected to exceed $835 Billion by 2011.[10] Headlines later claimed "'Gay Buying Power' to hit $2 Trillion by 2012."[11] Gay consumers can be very loyal to specific brands, wishing to support companies that support the gay community and also provide equal rights for LGBT workers. In the UK, this buying power is sometimes abbreviated to "the pink pound". More and more Fortune 500 companies are embracing LGBT/gay community consumers to include "domestic partner benefits, non-discrimination policies, and financial support for organizations working to promote equality." [11]

According to an article by James Hipps, LGBT Americans are more likely to seek out companies that advertise to them and are willing to pay higher prices for premium products and services. This can be attributed to the median household income compared from same-sex couples to opposite-sex couples. "...studies show that GLBT Americans are twice as likely to have graduated from college, twice as likely to have an individual income over $60,000 and twice as likely to have a household income of $250,000 or more." [12]


Main article: LGBT topics in medicine

Discrimination and mental health

See also: Discrimination against homosexuals

In a 2001 study that examined possible root causes of mental disorders in lesbian, gay and bisexual people, Cochran and psychologist Vickie M. Mays, of the University of California, explored whether ongoing discrimination fuels anxiety, depression and other stress-related mental health problems among LGB people.[13] The authors found strong evidence of a relationship between the two.[13] The team compared how 74 LGB and 2,844 heterosexual respondents rated lifetime and daily experiences with discrimination such as not being hired for a job or being denied a bank loan, as well as feelings of perceived discrimination.[13] LGB respondents reported higher rates of perceived discrimination than heterosexuals in every category related to discrimination, the team found.[13] According to the Journal of Addiction and Mental Health, around 600 people between the ages of 10 and 24 die each year from suicide and about 32% of these people are lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LAB) youth. "[14] However, while gay youth are considered to be at higher risk for suicide, a literature review published in the journal Adolescence states, "Being gay in-and-of-itself is not the cause of the increase in suicide." Rather the review notes that the findings of previous studies suggested the,"...suicide attempts were significantly associated with psychosocial stressors, including gender nonconformity, early awareness of being gay, victimization, lack of support, school dropout, family problems, acquaintances' suicide attempts, homelessness, substance abuse, and other psychiatric disorders. Some of these stressors are also experienced by heterosexual adolescents, but they have been shown to be more prevalent among gay adolescents."[15]

LGBT multiculturalism

LGBT multiculturalism is the diversity within the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community as a representation of different sexual orientations, gender identities—as well as different ethnic, language, religious groups within the LGBT community. At the same time as LGBT and multiculturalism relation, we may consider the inclusion of LGBT community into a larger multicultural model, as for example in universities,[16] such multicultural model includes the LGBT community together and equal representation with other large minority groups such as African Americans in the United States.

Relationship between the LGBT equality and multicultural movements

On one hand, the two movements have much in common politically. Both are concerned with tolerance for real differences, diversity, minority status, and the invalidity of value judgments applied to different ways of life. On the other hand, many LGBT political organizers note that the only tolerance and acceptance available to sexual minority people in the world is extended by predominantly white and/or westernized, rich and well-educated segments of the Western, East Asian and Latin American worlds.

Annotated bibliography

  • Murphy, Timothy F., Reader's Guide to Lesbian and Gay Studies, 2000. Partial view at google books (African American LGBT community, and also its relation to art)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Symbols of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Movements. Lambda GLBT Community Services. Dec. 26, 2004. [1]
  2. What We Do. HRC. Retrieved on 2013-12-05.
  3. ESF | About Us[dead link]
  4. Wiser Earth Organizations: Empowering Spirits Foundation. Retrieved on 2013-12-05.
  5. GLAAD: "About GLAAD"
  6. Amnesty International USA. Human Rights and the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People. 2009. [2]
  7. Gomestic. 2009. Stanza Ltd
  8. Gay Pride parade attracts thousands. The Irish News. April 4, 2008
  9. Fetto, John. In Broad Daylight – Marketing to the gay community – Brief Article. BNet. Feb. 2001. [3]
  10. PRNewswire. "Buying Power of US Gays and Lesbians to Exceed $835 Billion by 2011." January 25, 2007
  11. 11.0 11.1 "The Raw Story. Yahoo. June 26, 2006",, 2006-06-26. Retrieved on 2013-12-05. 
  12. The Power of Gay: Buying Power That Is. Gay Agenda. August 24, 2008[dead link]
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Mental Health Correlates of Perceived Discrimination Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults in the United States by Vickie M. Mays, University of California, Los Angeles. Susan D. Cochran, Department of Epidemiology, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Health. November 2001, Vol 91, No. 11 | American Journal of Public Health 1869–1876
  14. Journal Of Addiction and Mental Health Surveys Gay Teen Discrimination And Suicide. National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. Jan. 14, 2004. [4]
  15. Kitts, R. Adolescence. Gay adolescents and suicide: understanding the association. Adolescence, 40(159), 621-628. 2005.
  16. LGBT Affairs, University of Florida

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