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What is the ‘B’ in LGBTQ? Difference between bisexual and pansexual.

Bisexual Awareness Week occurs every year from Sept. 16 to 23, culminating in Bi Visibility Day on Sept. 23. LGBTQ organizations, including GLAAD, the Bisexual Resource Center and Still Bisexual, participate in social media campaigns and history lessons to celebrate individuals who identify as bisexual. 

According to a 2022 Gallup poll, a record high of 7.1% of American adults self-identify as LGBTQ. Leading the pack is Gen Z. Just over 20% of Americans born between 1997 and 2003 identify as LGBTQ. 

More than half of LGBTQ Americans identify as bisexual, the largest category in the community. 

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What does the ‘B’ in LGBTQ stand for?

The B in LGBTQ stands for bisexual. LGBTQ is an acronym that’s an identifier as much as it is a work in progress for the past few decades. 

What each letter in LGBTQ means:

  • L: Lesbian
  • G: Gay
  • B: Bisexual
  • T: Transgender (differs 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 lineup. The plus sign is often tacked onto the end to signal identities in the community that perhaps don’t fit into the other letters, according to PinkNews, like pansexual, polyamorous, two-spirited or others who don’t want to label their sexuality. 

What does bisexual mean?

A bisexual person is someone who is attracted to more than one gender, but the term is often used to describe a wide spectrum of identities. 

One of the most widely used definitions of bisexuality comes from activist and editor Robyn Ochs:

“I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted — romantically and/or sexually — to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree,” Ochs says. 

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