Queer 101: An Intro to the LGBT2Q+ Community

What Does LGBTQ Mean?

The term LGBT is an initialism used to refer to the non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgender individuals, topics and communities.

Over time the term has evolved to include a 'Q' for Queer and a '+' in LGBTQ+ in order to be more inclusive and acknowledge that there are varying identities. It's also common to see LGBT2Q+, the '2' representing Two-Spirit identity used by some Indigenous peoples.

What Does Queer Mean?

Over the years this term has meant a few things and unfortunately, it hasn't always been good, but the term has evolved, today Queer is used as an umbrella term to refer to the entire LGBT2SQQIAAP community.

Queer is one word, one syllable meant to include all the unique and diverse individuals who make up this community.

We chose to use Queer because one of QE's top priorities is to ensure we are connecting and building a stronger community and we cannot do that without ensuring everyone is included, not just the 'LGBT' members.

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What's the difference between Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation?

When getting to know the queer community, it is important to understand the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. Sexual Orientation can be thought of as how we label and express our preference or attractions for sexual partners whereas gender identity is how we feel and express our own gender whether male, female, variant or as having none at all.

Sexual Orientation

Toward whom a person’s sexual desires and drives are oriented – toward only women, or only men, or nobody, or irrespective of gender. It is separate and independent from a person’s gender identity. It can be fluid over time. The identity a person uses to describe their sexual orientation may not reflect their sexual behaviours.

Gender Identity

Each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is a person’s sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither or anywhere on the gender spectrum. This sense of self is separate from biological sex assigned at birth and is not related to sexual orientation. Since gender identity is internal, it is not necessarily visible to others.

Trans 101

What does Trans mean?

An umbrella term for people whose gender identity is not in harmony with their birth assignment. Often includes people who identify as transgender, trans woman, trans man, gender non-conforming or gender variant.


Respect Trans Folks

  • Don't assume gender based solely on physical appearance.
  • Ask what pronouns are preferred and be sure to use that pronoun.
  • Use my preferred name  in conversation and when introducing me.
  • Don't ask about my body parts...it's not cool!
  • Make an effort to use gender neutral language in your everyday conversions. This is very cool!

LGBT2Q+ 101

Be Respectful

Individuals from the queer community can be found everywhere. In workplaces, social settings, classrooms, grocery stores, literally everywhere. It's important to make sure we all do our part to be respectful to everyone.


The Basics

  • Accept everyone within the complex and vibrant LGBT2Q+ community. We are all individuals with equal rights.
  • Don't ask ridiculous questions about how our relationships work.
  • Don't ask us to hide our queerness, your discomfort does not trump our right to exist. We're people too!
  • We are not here for your amusement, please no jokes, stereotypes, costumes or insults.

Wondering about Trans? Get to know the basics about our community with QE's TRANS 101

Coming Out & Finding Support

What is Coming Out?

The process of revealing one's sexuality or gender identity with themselves or others.

There is no one way to come out, it happens when the time is right and the person is ready.


Connect with PFLAG

PFLAG offers support for anyone who is going through or struggling with the coming out process. Most PFLAG chapters offer monthly support groups.

PFLAG is a safe space for queers and allies.


What it means to be a LGBT2Q+ Ally


Becoming a true Queer Ally takes time, thought, understanding & action.


  • A person who creates a safe and confidential space for those who identify on the LGBT2Q+ spectrum.
  • Someone who understands and challenges common issue such as heterosexism, transphobia, cisexism and homophobia.
  • Someone who will actively speak up when witnessing acts of aggression, bullying, oppression against queer individuals.

Join A LGBT2Q+ Group

It doesn't matter if you're new or a long time member, connecting with other people who share our experiences is important for all of us.

Find a social or support group that's right for you and connect with your queer community.

Find A Group

Connect with Resources

There are a number of community resources and organizations accessible to the queer community.

The QE Resource Hub will help you find anything from health services, support groups to student and campus resources.

Resources Hub


Wondering about Pronouns? Don't worry, QE got you covered with our Pronouns 101

Learn About Queer Canadian History

About Queer History in Canada

The Journey to Equal Rights & Acceptance

Equal rights for LGBT2Q+ individuals is a long and ongoing journey. Our battle for rights and acceptance is rooted in aggression, discrimination, raids and riots.

Learn about the important milestones in our Canadian Pride History

Queer History
Future is Queer! #QueerEvents