These terms are on here for both awareness and educational reason. The terms are not listed so that they can go out and be used in harmful ways.
Bisexual: As a noun, an individual who may be attracted to both sexes. As an adjective, of or relating to sexual and affectional attraction to both sexes. Does not presume nonmonogamy.
Closeted, in the closet: Refers to a person who wishes to keep secret his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.
Coming out: Short for “coming out of the closet.” Accepting and letting others know of one’s previously hidden sexual orientation or gender identity.
Commitment ceremony: A formal, marriage-like gathering that recognizes the declaration of members of the same sex to each other. Same-sex marriages are not legally recognized by the U.S. government.
Cross-dresser: Preferred term for person who wears clothing most often associated with members of the opposite sex. Not necessarily connected to sexual orientation.
Drag: Attire of the opposite sex.
Drag performers: Entertainers who dress and act in styles typically associated with the opposite sex (drag queen for men, drag king for women). Not synonymous with transgender or cross-dressing.
Dyke: Originally a pejorative term for a lesbian, it is now being reclaimed by some lesbians. Caution: still extremely offensive when used as an epithet.
Fag, faggot: Originally a pejorative term for a gay male, it is now being reclaimed by some gay men. Caution: still extremely offensive when used as an epithet.
Gay: An adjective that has largely replaced “homosexual” in referring to men who are sexually and affectionally attracted to other men. Avoid using as a singular noun. For women, “lesbian” is preferred. To include both, use “gay men and lesbians.” In headlines where space is an issue, “gays” is acceptable to describe both.
Gay/lesbian relationships: Gay, lesbian and bisexual people use various terms to describe their commitments. Ask the individual what term he or she prefers, if possible. If not, “partner” is generally acceptable.
Gender identity: An individual’s emotional and psychological sense of being male or female. Not necessarily the same as an individual’s biological identity.
Heterosexism: Presumption that heterosexuality is universal and/or superior to homosexuality. Also: prejudice, bias or discrimination based on such presumptions.
Homophobia: Fear, hatred or dislike of homosexuality, gay men and lesbians.
Homosexual: As a noun, a person who is attracted to members of the same sex. As an adjective, of or relating to sexual and affectional attraction to a member of the same sex. Use only if “heterosexual” would be used in parallel constructions, such as in medical contexts.
Intersex (adj.): People born with sex chromosomes, external genitalia or an internal reproductive system that is not considered standard for either male or female. Parents and physicians usually will determine the sex of the child, resulting in surgery or hormone treatment. Many intersex adults seek an end to this practice.
Lesbian: Preferred term, both as a noun and as an adjective, for women who are sexually and affectionally attracted to other women. Some women prefer to be called “gay” rather than “lesbian”; when possible, ask the subject what term she prefers.
LGBT: Acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.”
Outing (from “out of the closet”): Publicly revealing the sexual orientation or gender identity of an individual who has chosen to keep that information private.
Pink triangle: Now a gay pride symbol, it was the symbol gay men were required to wear in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Lesbians sometimes also use a black triangle.
Pride (Day and/or march): Short for gay/lesbian pride, this term is commonly used to indicate the celebrations commemorating the Stonewall Inn riots of June 28, 1969. Pride events typically take place in June.
Queer: Originally a pejorative term for gay, now being reclaimed by some gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as a self-affirming umbrella term. Still extremely offensive when used as an epithet.
Rainbow flag: A flag of six equal horizontal stripes (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet) signifying the diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
Sexual orientation: Innate sexual attraction. Use this term instead of “sexual preference.”
Straight(adj.): Heterosexual; describes a person whose sexual and affectional attraction is to someone of the opposite sex.
Transgender (adj): An umbrella term that refers to people whose biological and gender identity or expression may not be the same. This can include preoperative, postoperative or nonoperative transsexuals, female and male cross-dressers, drag queens or kings, female or male impersonators, and intersex individuals. If an individual prefers to be called transsexual, drag queen or king, intersex, etc., use that term.
Transsexual(n.): An individual who identifies himself or herself as a member of the opposite sex and who acquires the physical characteristics of the opposite sex. Individual can be of any sexual orientation. To determine accurate use of names or personal pronouns, use the name and sex of the individual at the time of the action.
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Gender and Sexuality Resource Center