If you have been a follower of my blog then you know that I worked in San Francisco at a youth non profit agency from 2002 to 2008. Even though it wasn't a "gay" agency, we served HIV positive youth and a large population of our members identified as something other than heterosexual.
When I was in college at Scripps College (an amazing women's college), there was a fairly active LGB center. That was many a year ago (yes, I am old) and now it almost seems like some sort of alphabet-soup crap-shoot (try saying that 5 times fast!) when you want to identify groups of individuals who do not identify as heterosexual.
LGBTQIQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Questioning. I've also seen LGBTQIA for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Ally as well as LGBTQQIA, and LGBTQQI. Honestly, it is really freaking difficult to make it all inclusive. That is why I usually refer to other orientated people as "other than heterosexual".
*This is not always appreciated because it presumes the "normal" expression is, in fact, heterosexuality. I don't believe this to be true...far from it. But this is just one way the words we chose can potentially affect our audience.*
My perception is that the different LBGTQ incarnations tend to be fairly geographically related. For example, in San Francisco, I am most familiar with LGBTQIQ. However, it appears that many east coast educators and programs use a different combination.
As a fierce ally and a sexuality educator, I feel compelled to use language that is both accurate and also reflective of the groups I present to. However, I have come to the conclusion that you will never be able to please everyone 100% of the time. This is particularly true if you are a sexuality speaker.
I've known other educators who have been asked to "queer down" their language when it comes to a more mainstream audience. I have also known some educators who have alienated the LGBTQIQ community by using heteronormative language.
Speaking to large groups of people can be very nerve wrecking to many educators because they want to be as inclusive as possible but they don't want to spend so much time on pronouns that they barely have time to get to the meat of the presentation. Not to mention that I have presented to people who have been so into their identity it is borderline militant, and they will often correct my pronoun usage before I even finish my sentence. Fyi, that is one quick and easy way to get to not like you.
Another trend I'm noticing is that many educators have adjusted their verbage when it comes to gender. So instead of referring to females and males, women and men, or even "female bodied" and "male bodied", it is now politically correct to say "vagina owner" and "penis owner".
Is you head ready to explode yet?
Having worked in an agency that served primarily gay and transgendered people, I feel really comfortable and reasonably confident that my conversations and presentations will not alienate that community. However, there is a huge difference amongst the LGBTQIQ community regarding how people wish to be identified both sexually and gender wise. More individuals are embracing a genderqueer and queer identity that is very different from someone identifying as female/male and lesbian or gay.
From my experience, I can tell you that the LGBTQIQ community is not necessarily one happy, symbiotic rainbow family. However, I will continually try to keep my presentations and workshops accessible to as many people as possible. I'm definitely not perfect. I know I will make mistakes, and quite possibly people will call me out or complain that I am too heteronormative. On a side note, I have found that me being referred to the "gayest man" some gay men have ever known definitely does not fly or buy me any street cred when it comes to young queer women. Who would have known? There is a certain learning curve involved when changing the way you speak, but I am up for the challenge. However, if I think you are being completely ridiculous in policing my language, I will likely point that out, too.