Is there a difference in the terms "queer" and "gay/lesbian"?

Question: Is there a difference in the terms "queer" and "gay/lesbian"?

Vanessa wrote in with this question. "I was wondering if there is a difference in the terms "queer" vs. gay/lesbian?"

Answer: The word queer to many is an insult that was said in a hurtful way to gays, lesbians and anyone who was different. Today, many people have reclaimed the word "queer" to be an all-encompassing term for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and genderqueer. While gaining popularity, some still find the word "queer" to be offensive. To be on the safe side, unless you know your audience and know that the word will not offend them, use gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or LGBT for short. For any formal writing or presentations, it is appropriate to spell out lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender in the first usage and shorten it to LGBT thereafter.