LGBTQ+ Vocabulary to learn in honor of Pride Month
Within the LGBTQ+ community there is a lot of words unique to the community used to describe someone’s experience of attraction, gender, presentation, or a variety of other things. You may feel awkward about speaking about LGBTQ+ issues or even talking to people in your life that are in the community because you don’t know a lot about the terminology or what it means to be a non-cisgender or non-straight person in our society. This list is in no way comprehensive, but it is a good starting point of reference point for expanding you vocabulary and knowledge of LGBTQ+ experiences and use of language that will help you be a better ally.
LGBTQ+ is an acronym for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer with a “+” sign to recognize the limitless sexual orientations and gender identities used by members of our community.
Ally is someone who supports LGBTQ+ people. It can be people within the community as well as outside of the community.
Example: A lesbian can be an ally to the bisexual community.
Coming Out according to the human rights campaign is “The process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts and appreciates their sexual orientation or gender identity and begins to share that with others.”
Example: A friend recognizes they are nonbinary and shares with you that they identify as nonbinary.
Outing someone is when you expose someone’s identity without their permission. This can have serious consequences for an individuals personal safety, employment, economic stability, religious, or family situations.
Example: Telling your boss or a peer in conversation about a fellow coworkers sexual orientation or gender identity without asking the individual beforehand.
Homophobia is fear, hatred, or discomfort with people who are attracted to the same sex.
Example: Someone refuses to be friends with someone because they are gay.
Sexual Orientation Terminology:
Asexual or “Ace” refers to lack of sexual attraction or lack of interest in sexual activity with others. Asexuality is a spectrum so the degree of attraction or interest in sex varies on an individual level.
Example: Candace identifies as asexual and enjoys other forms of physical intimacy over sex with a partner.
Bisexual is someone is who emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity.
Pansexual according to human rights campaign, Describes someone who has the potential for emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to people of any gender though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree. Sometimes used interchangeably with bisexual.
Lesbian describes a woman who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other women. Woman and nonbinary people may use this term to describe themselves. (Yes you can be nonbinary and a lesbian)
Gay describes a person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. Men, women, and non-binary people may all use this term to describe their sexuality.
Gender Binary refers to the system in which gender is constructed in our society as two strict categories of male or female.
Gender expression is the external appearance of one’s gender, such as behavior, clothing, body characteristics, or voice. They may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics of what society views as “typically” masculine or feminine.
Gender Fluid is when ones gender identity does is not fixed to a single gender, has a fluid or unfixed gender identity.
Gender identity according to human rights campaign is ones innermost concept of self as mal, female, a blend of both, or neither- how individuals perceive themselves, and what they call themselves. This can be different or same as sex assigned at birth.
Gender non-conforming is a broad term. It refers to people who do not conform to traditional gender expectations or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. Some people who use this term may identify as transgender, but not all gender nonconforming people do.
Gender queer is a label used for people who do not identify with the binary of man/woman and is an umbrella term for a variety of nonconforming or nonbinary identities.
Non binary according to the human rights campaign, is An adjective describing a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Non-binary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. While many also identify as transgender, not all non-binary people do. Non-binary can also be used as an umbrella term encompassing identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer or gender-fluid.
Here are some stereotypes to remember to avoid:
“Sexual history equals sexual orientation” : FALSE, people come out at different times in their life and their sexual history is not always a reflection of their sexual orientation and assuming so can be invalidating.
“Pronouns equal gender identity”: FALSE. Even though someone may use she/her pronouns that person could identify as nonbinary, so using pronouns to predict gender identity is based in assumptions.
“Bisexuals are confused”: FALSE, they are not confused, they are attracted to more than one gender or gender identity and that is their sexual orientation.
“Gender expression equals gender identity”: FALSE, one cannot assumes someone’s gender based on presentation. One can identify in any way they choose regardless of gender identity.
I hope this vocabulary list helps you understand the LGBTQ+ community a little and if you or someone you know needs support or someone to talk to about their identity, homophobia, or wants to engage in more self-exploration about their sexual orientation or gender identity please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services at (407)443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.
Resources to further your knowledge of LGBTQ+ terminology: