The terms covered are related to all facets of the LGBTQ+ community. Although every effort has been made to make this as inclusive as possible there may still be mistakes and not everyone uses these definitions. Also, as is the beauty of language and human beings some people may have totally different definitions or understandings of these words.
When in doubt ask respectfully and in private.
ACT-UP: An acronym that stands for AIDs Coalition to Unleash Power, the activist HIV/AIDS and LGBT rights organization created as a direct response to the US governments’ denial of the AIDS epidemic.
Aceflux: A person who experiences low, varying levels of sexual attraction.
Advocate: A person who actively works to end intolerance, educate others, and support social equity for a group.
Affirm: To validate something.
Agender: A person who is internally ungendered or does not have a felt sense of gender identity.
Aggressive (Ag): A term used to describe a female identified person who prefers presenting as masculine. This term is most commonly used in urban communities of colour.
Ally: A person who supports LGBTQ+ people. Also includes all cis people who are trans* allies.
Allosexual (Allo): A term used most commonly in the asexual community to refer to someone who is not asexual. Someone who is allosexual experiences sexual attraction.
Ambisexual: Ambi meaning both, an ambisexual person feels sexual attraction to two or more genders.
Amoebas: Biologically asexual organisms, the word has also been appropriated by some to denote an asexual human.
Androgyne: A non-binary gender identity.
Androgyny: A gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity.
Androsexual: Attracted to males, men, and/or masculinity.
Aromantic (Aro): A person who does not experience romantic attraction to others.
Asexual (Ace): A person who does not experience sexual attraction to others.
Batty Boy: In Jamaican culture, a batty boy is a man considered to be gay, bisexual, or effeminate.
Baby Dyke: A young, boyish or inexperienced lesbian.
Baby Gay: A term for a young or recently out LGBQ+ person.
Bats for the other team: Indicates that the person being spoken about is of a different sexuality to the speaker.
BDSM: Stands for ‘bondage and discipline’, ‘domination and submission’ and ‘sadism and masochism’. BDSM isn’t exclusively an LGBTQ+ practice but is widely accepting of gender and sexual minorities.
- Bondage: The practice of physically restraining, bondage can take many forms with restraints varying from scarves to chains.
- Discipline: Describes psychological restraining, with the use of rules and punishment to control behaviour. Punishment can be pain caused physically (such as caning), humiliation caused psychologically (such as a public whipping), or loss of freedom caused physically (for example, chaining the submissive partner to the foot of a bed). Another aspect is the structured training of a submissive where the dominant uses punishment to teach the submissive their role.
- Dominance and submission: A set of behaviours, customs and rituals relating to the giving and accepting of control of one individual over another in an erotic or lifestyle context.
- Sadism: A sadist derives sexual pleasure by inflicting pain, degradation, humiliation on another person or causing another person to suffer.
- Masochism: A masochist enjoys being hurt, humiliated, or suffering within the consensual scenario.
Bear Community: A bear is a gay, bisexual or queer man who is generally large and hairy. Different kinds of bear identities are based on physicality, race, and sexual preference. The Bear Community has its own flag and often organises specific events for members of the bear community.
- Cub: A younger (or younger-looking) version of a Bear, sometimes with a smaller frame. The term is sometimes used to imply the passive partner in a relationship.
- Ewok: A Bear of short stature, but not younger.
- Otter: A slimmer or less hairy Bear.
- Chaser: Somebody who is attracted to Bears and/or chubs but is not part of the Bear culture.
- Chub: A heavy-set man who might be described as overweight or obese. These men are also a distinct subculture within the gay community, and may or may not identify with the Bear movement.
- Teddy: A fully hairy bear. Chest, back, beard, everything is hairy.
- Muscle bear: A Bear whose size derives from muscle rather than body fat.
- Ursula: A lesbian bear.
- Goldilocks: A straight woman friendly with Bears.
- Panda: A Bear of Asian heritage.
- Polar bear: An older Bear who’s facial and body hair is predominantly or entirely white or grey.
- Wolf: A slimmer Bear, with the behavioural characteristic of sexual assertiveness or aggression.
Bent: Slang term for LGBTQ+ people. Can be derogatory. Of late the word has been reclaimed, and many groups and publications proudly use the term Bent as a source of gay pride.
Bias: Prejudice; an inclination or preference, especially one that interferes with impartial judgement.
Bicurious: People of a straight or gay identity who, while showing some curiosity for a relationship or sexual activity with a person of a gender they do not favour, distinguish themselves from the bisexual label.
Bigender: A person whose gender identity encompasses two or more genders.
Binary Gender: An outdated view of gender, limiting possibilities to man and woman.
Binary Sex: An outdated view of biological sex, limiting possibilities to female or male.
Binding: The term binding refers to the process of flattening one’s breast tissue in order to create a male-appearing chest.
Biological sex: The physical anatomy and gendered hormones (such as oestrogen and testosterone) one is born with, generally described as male, female, or intersex, and often confused with gender.
Biphobia: Fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, or discomfort with bisexual people. Biphobia can come from within the queer community also.
Biromantic: A person who is romantically attracted to two or more genders.
Bisexual: A person who experiences sexual attraction to people of two or more genders.
Bisexual erasure: The tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or reexplain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, news, media and other primary sources. In its most extreme form, bisexual erasure can include denying that bisexuality exists. It is often a manifestation of biphobia, although it does not necessarily involve overt antagonism.
Blockers: Blockers are drugs given to suppress the hormones of a trans persons assigned gender.
Body Policing: Any behaviour which attempts to control a person’s actions in relation to their body, usually in relation to gender expression or size.
Boi: Boi can mean:
- A younger man who prefers older men.
- A younger queer person engaging in casual sex.
- A submissive butch in the BDSM community, or a younger butch in the butch-femme community.
- A young trans man, or a trans man who is in the earlier stages of transition.
- A term of endearment for butches by femmes.
Bottom Surgery: Also known as gender confirmation surgery, genital reconstruction surgery or sex reassignment surgery. There are many different techniques and cost varies.
For trans men, surgery can involve:
- A hysterectomy (removal of the womb).
- A salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries).
- Construction of a penis using a phalloplasty or a metoidioplasty.
- A phalloplasty uses the existing vaginal tissue and skin taken from the inner forearm to create a penis. A metoidioplasty involves creating a penis from the clitoris, which has been enlarged through hormone therapy. This type of surgery aims to create a functioning penis, which allows you to pass urine standing up and to retain sexual sensation. You may need to have more than one operation to achieve this.
For trans women, surgery can involve:
- An orchidectomy (removal of the testes).
- A penectomy (removal of the penis).
- Construction of a vagina from the leftover tissue of the penis (known as a vaginoplasty). The vagina is created and lined with skin from the penis, and tissue from the scrotum (the sack that holds the testes) is used to create the labia. The urethra (urine tube) is shortened and repositioned. This type of surgery aims to create a functioning vagina with an acceptable appearance and retained sexual sensation.
Breeders: Derogatory slang term for straight people.
Buggery: The British English term buggery is very close in meaning to the term sodomy and is often used interchangeably in law and popular speech. It may also refer to a specific common law offence, encompassing both sodomy and bestiality.
Butch/Femme: Terms used to describe individual gender expressions in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and cross-dressing subcultures.
Camp: Refers to a gay man who lives up to stereotypes. Can be derogatory. Can also be used to describe a flamboyant or excessive style.
The Chart: Refers to charting ones exs to see the degrees of separation between two or more people. Made popular by The L Word.
Cisgender: A description for a person whose gender identity and sex assigned at birth align. Often shortened to cis, the opposite of trans.
Cisgenderism: Assuming every person to be cisgender therefore marginalising those who identify as trans* in some form. It is also believing cisgender people to be superior, and holding people to certain expectations based on gender, or punishing or excluding those who don’t conform to binary gender expectations.
Cis-man: A person who identifies as a man and was assigned male at birth.
Cis-woman: A person who identifies as a woman and was assigned female at birth.
Closeted: A person who is keeping their sexuality or gender identity a secret from people, and has yet to come out of the closet. People may be closeted in all parts or only a few parts of their lives.
Coming Out: The process of revealing your sexuality or gender identity to individuals in your life. Often incorrectly thought to be a one-time event, this is a lifelong and sometimes daily process. Not to be confused with outing.
Confused: When used about an LGBTQ+ person it is meant that they don’t understand themselves and have mistakenly said they are LGBTQ+. It is extremely offensive.
Cross-dressing: Wearing clothing that is associated with another gender (e.g., a man wearing a dress) for any one of many reasons, including relaxation, fun, and sexual gratification; often conflated with being transgender.
Cruising: Walking or driving about a locality in search of a sex partner, usually of the anonymous, casual, one-time variety. The term is also used when technology is used to find casual sex, such as using an Internet site or a telephone service, for example, Grindr, gaydar, gaydargirls, HER, Otter, Tinder.
Daddy: An older man who engages in relationships with a much younger person. The word Daddy can also be used during BDSM roleplay to denote an older male who is Dominant and caring.
The Dark Days: Refers to the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s when thousands of gay/bi men were dying and suffering from HIV/AIDS and the stigma that was attached to the disease.
Demigender: A gender identity that involves feeling a partial, but not full, connection to a particular gender identity. Often demigender people also identify as non-binary. Examples include demi-girl, demi-boy and demi-androgyne.
Demiromantic: A person who is only romantically attracted to people they have an emotional connection with.
Demisexual: A person who is only sexually attracted to people they have an emotional connection with.
Discrimination: The act of showing prejudice. The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or gender.
Doll/Masker: People who dress up as plastic dolls, usually including a rubber mask. A form of cross-dressing, being a doll is not an indicator of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Dom/sub/Switch: Terms referring to roles in BDSM practice.
- Dominant (Dom): In BDSM, a top or dominant is the partner in a BDSM relationship or in a BDSM scene who takes the active or controlling role over that of the bottom or submissive partner(s).
- submissive (sub): Takes the passive, receiving, or obedient role.
- Switch: someone who participates in BDSM activities sometimes as a dominant and other times as a submissive.
Domestic Partner: Another word for spouse, lover, significant other, domestic partners usually live together and may be married. In places without the right for same-sex couples to marry, domestic partner may be used to denote a lifelong partner in formal situations.
Dominant Culture: The cultural values, beliefs, and practices that are assumed to be the most common and influential within a given society.
Down-Low (DL): Men who identify as heterosexual but engage in sexual activity with other men.
Drag: Any clothing carrying symbolic significance but usually referring to the clothing associated with one gender when worn by a person of another gender.
Drag Show: A production put on by people in drag. The actors are commonly referred to as drag queens and kings. These shows are a form of entertainment and celebration of gender-bending and expression. Shows can consist of singing, modelling, comedy routines, and different skits.
Drag King: A person who consciously performs masculinity, usually in a show or theatre setting, presenting an exaggerated form of masculine expression; often confused with being transgender or cross-dressing.
Drag Queen: A person who consciously performs femininity, usually in a show or theatre setting, presenting an exaggerated form of feminine expression; often confused with being transgender or cross-dressing.
Dyke: A derogatory slang term used for lesbian women; reclaimed by many lesbian women as a symbol of pride and used as an in-group term.
Dykes on Bikes (DOB): A chartered lesbian motorcycle club. They are known for their participation in events such as Pride parades and the international Gay Games.
Dykon: A lesbian celebrity.
Dysphoria: A state of feeling unwell or unhappy; a feeling of emotional and mental discomfort as a symptom of discontentment, restlessness, dissatisfaction, malaise (general feeling of being unwell), depression, anxiety or indifference.
Enby: Based on the shortening of non-binary. Used by the genderqueer and non-binary communities as an alternative to girl/boy.
Enbyfriend: A gender neutral version of girlfriend/boyfriend.
Empowerment: When target group members refuse to accept the dominant ideology and their subordinate status and take actions to redistribute social power more equitably.
Equality: To be seen as equals to our heterosexual and cisgender peers in law and in society is the main goal of the LGBTQ+ rights movement.
Eunuchs: A person who has had their testicles removed. There is a lot of rich history regarding eunuchs and a lot of misunderstanding. Historically people who were gay, transgender, or asexual were castrated because they were considered impotent. Today it is a procedure done on gender variant people who wish to express their femininity.
Ex-Gay: The Ex-Gay movement is people who claim to have once been LGBTQ+ and have converted their sexual orientation to straight or their gender identity to match their biological sex. Most so-called Ex-Gays are driven by religious values that disparage being LGBTQ+ and regard it as sin. The Ex-Gay movement uses reparative/conversion therapy to try and fix LGBTQ+ people but the effectiveness of conversion therapy has been repeatedly disproved.
FAAB: Acronym standing for female assigned at birth.
Faggot: A derogatory slang term used for gay men; reclaimed by many gay men as a symbol of pride and used as an in-group term.
Fag hag: Refers to a woman who either associates mostly or exclusively with gay and bisexual men, or has gay and bisexual men as close friends.
Fag stag/Fruit fly: A heterosexual man who either enjoys the company of or simply has numerous friends who are, gay or bisexual men. The latter term comes from the derogatory term for homosexuals (fruit).
Female: Biological term used to classify certain sexual characteristics in humans and other animals.
Femme: A term used about gender identities and expressions that lean towards the feminine.
Flamer/Steamer: Derogatory term for a flamboyant gay man. Some gay men have reclaimed it. Also called a flaming homosexual.
Flexual: Attracted to two or more genders.
Fluid(ity): Generally with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid(ity) describes identities that change and do not remain static for one’s lifetime. Not to be confused with transitioning.
Friend of Dorothy: Slang term for a gay man. Originated in Post World War 2 America as a way to discuss homosexuality discreetly. Believed to have originated from either the book, The Road to Oz, or film The Wizard of Oz. In Britain, the phrase ‘friend of Mrs King’ was used, which relied on the common slang term ‘queen’.
Frot: Short for frottage. A non-penetrative form of sexual activity that usually involves direct penis-to-penis contact.
FTM/MTF (Female To Male/Male To Female): A person who has or is planning to undergo medical treatment(s) to change their body in order to align it with their gender identity.
Fudge packer: A derogatory term for a man who engages in anal sex with another man.
Gail Language: An English and Afrikaans based slang used primarily by gay men in South Africa.
Gay: A man who is attracted to men, but often used and embraced by women to describe their same-sex sexual attraction as well.
Gay above the belt: Implies a person is willing to kiss someone of the same sex but is unwilling to touch their genitals.
Gay Agenda/Propaganda/Lobby: The fictional plan anti-LGBTQ groups claim the LGBTQ community has. The term is applied to efforts to change government policies and laws on LGBTQ+ issues as well as non-governmental campaigns and individual actions that increase visibility and cultural acceptance of LGBT people, relationships, and identities.
Gay anthem: A song that becomes widely popular within the gay community, it usually is upbeat and positive with the hope of prevailing against the odds.
Gay bashing and gay bullying: Verbal or physical abuse against a person who is perceived by the aggressor to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Gay Christmas: An event that sparks excitement in the LGBTQ community akin to the feeling of Christmas.
Gaydar: The intuitive ability of a person to assess others’ sexual orientations as gay, bisexual or straight. Gaydar relies almost exclusively on non-verbal clues and LGBTQ stereotypes.
Gay-Friendly: Places, policies, people or institutions that are open and welcoming to all members of the LGBTQ+ community, creating an environment that is supportive of LGBTQ+ people and their relationships, is respectful of all people, treats all people equally, and is non-judgemental.
Gay Games: The Gay Games is the world’s largest sporting and cultural event organized by, and specifically for, LGBTQ athletes, artists and musicians.
Gay Icon: A historical, fictional, or celebrity figure who is highly regarded in the LGBTQ+ community. Gay icons can have any sexual orientation or gender identity but usually exhibit characteristics of courage, flamboyance, confidence and/or androgyny.
Gay Mafia/Velvet Mafia/Pink Mafia: Discriminatory terms for the amalgamation of gay rights groups in politics and the media. The Gay Mafia and Velvet Mafia are typically associated with the upper echelons of the fashion and entertainment industries. The terms are also used humorously by gay people themselves.
Gaymer: Umbrella term used to refer to the group of people who identify themselves as LGBTQ+ and have an active interest in the video game community.
GBF: An acronym that stands for gay best friend.
Gender: A social construct used to classify a person as a man, woman, or another identity. Fundamentally different from the sex one is assigned at birth.
Gender bender: Refers to a person who actively transgresses, or bends expected gender roles. Gender-bending is sometimes a form of social activism undertaken in response to assumptions or over-generalisations about genders.
Gender Conformity: When your gender identity and gender expression match according to social norms.
Gender Confusion: The deliberate act of creating confusion in others with regards to your gender identity.
Gender Diverse: A person who either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society. This term is preferable to gender variant because it does not imply a standard norm.
Gender Dysphoria: The term gender dysphoria refers to a diagnosis made by psychologists and physicians to describe a person who experience significant discontent (dysphoria) with the sex they were assigned at birth and/or the gender roles associated with that sex.
Gender Euphoria: Extreme happiness or comfort experienced when one’s gender is affirmed.
Gender Expression: The external display of gender, through a combination of dress, demeanour, social behaviour, and other factors.
Gender Fluid: A non-binary gender identity, gender fluid people often feel like they fluctuate between genders.
Genderfuck: The idea of playing with gender cues to purposely confuse standard or stereotypical gender expressions, usually through clothing.
Gender Identity: The internal perception of an individual’s gender, and how they label themselves.
Gender Indifference: An indifference or apathy towards one’s own gender.
Genderism: The system of belief that there are only two genders (men and women) and that gender is inherently tied to one’s sex assigned at birth. It holds cisgender people as superior to transgender people and punishes or excludes those who don’t conform to society’s expectations of gender.
Genderless: A person who does not identify with any gender.
Gender Neutral: Inclusive language to describe relationships (spouse and partner instead of husband/boyfriend and wife/girlfriend), spaces (gender-neutral/inclusive restrooms are for use by all genders), pronouns (they and ze are examples of gender-neutral/inclusive pronouns) among other things.
Gender Nonconforming: A person who doesn’t conform to society’s expectations of gender.
Gender Outlaw: A person who refuses to be defined by conventional definitions of male and female.
Genderqueer: A blanket term used to describe people whose gender falls outside of the gender binary. A person who identifies as both a man and a woman, or as neither a man nor a woman.
Gender Role: How masculine or feminine an individual should act according to social norms. Societies commonly have norms regarding how males and females should behave, expecting people to have personality characteristics and/or act a certain way based on their biological sex.
Genetic Disorder: This term implies that to be LGBTQ+ is in our genes. While scientific research into this may prove it somewhat true the term disorder implies that it is something wrong and needs to be fixed and is, therefore, a derogatory term.
Gentlemen’s Taverns: Places that serve alcoholic beverages where men seeking to meet men have traditionally congregated. Today they are more commonly referred to as gay bars.
Ginger Beer: Slang for gay people that rhymes with queer.
Gold Star Lesbian: A lesbian who has never had sexual relations with a man.
Graygender: Having a weak sense of gender and/or being apathetic to one’s own gender.
Grayromantic: When you rarely feel romantic attraction towards others.
Graysexual: When you rarely feel sexual attraction towards anyone. As with sexual orientation, sex drive also exists on a spectrum.
Gynesexual/Gynephilic: Attracted to females, women, and/or femininity.
Hate Crime: A crime motivated by the actual or perceived race, colour, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.
He She: Derogative term used to describe trans women.
Hermaphrodite: An outdated medical term used to describe someone who is intersex; not used today as it is considered to be medically stigmatizing, and also misleading as it means a person who is 100% male and female, a biological impossibility for humans.
Heteroromantic: Romantic attraction to a gender other than your own.
Heterosexism: Behaviour that grants preferential treatment to heterosexual people, reinforces the idea that heterosexuality is somehow better or more right than queerness, or ignores/doesn’t address queerness as existing.
Heterosexual Privilege: Benefits derived automatically by being (or being perceived as) heterosexual that are denied to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, queers and all other non-heterosexual sexual orientations.
HIV/AIDS: Human Immunodeficiency Virus, a virus spread through blood, semen, breast milk, vaginal fluid and pre-ejaculate. HIV attacks the T cells in the blood, lowering the number of them that fight infection. During the initial infection with HIV, a person may experience flu-like symptoms followed by a period of no symptoms. As the illness progresses, it interferes more and more with the immune system, making the person much more likely to get opportunistic infections and tumours that do not usually affect people who have working immune systems.
AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is diagnosed when a person’s T cells drop below a certain level or they have contracted one or more opportunistic infections because the HIV virus has compromised their immune system.
Homophobia: Fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, or discomfort with LGBTQ+ people.
Homophile: An alternative to the words homosexual or gay. The homophile movement also refers to the gay rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. The term homophile is favoured by some because it emphasizes love rather than sex.
Homoromantic: Romantic attraction to a gender other than your own.
Homo(s): Shortening of the word homosexual. Usually used in a derogatory manner.
Homosexual: A medical definition for a person who is attracted to someone of the same gender. It is considered an offensive/stigmatizing term by many members of the queer community; often used incorrectly in place of lesbian or gay. Some people have reclaimed it.
Homosexual Tendencies/Homosexual Condition: Two outdated terms referring to same-sex attraction. Used by anti-LGBTQ organizations and groups.
Horizontal Prejudice: The result of people of targeted minority groups believing, acting on, or enforcing the dominant system of discrimination and oppression. Horizontal prejudice can occur between members of the same social group or between members of different targeted social groups.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Hormone replacement therapy for trans people introduces hormones associated with the true gender of the patient (notably testosterone for trans men and oestrogen for trans women). Some intersex people may also receive HRT.
IDAHOBIT: International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. Celebrated on May 17th.
Identity Sphere: The concept that gender identity and expression is too fluid to fit in a linear model. The sphere allows for gender formations to flourish without the ranking of one identity as being better than another.
IGM: An acronym that stands for infant or intersex genital mutilation. This often unnecessary and invasive medical procedure is done on many intersex babies in order to assign them one sex.
In the Closet: Keeping one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity a secret.
Institutional Oppression: The arrangement of a society used to benefit one group at the expense of another through the use of language, media education, religion, economics, etc.
Intergender: A person whose gender identity is between or a mix of two genders
Internalised Homophobia: The fear and self-hate of one’s own LGBTQ+ identity that occurs for many individuals who have learned negative ideas about LGBTQ+ people throughout childhood.
Intersectionality: A concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.
Intersex: A person with a set of sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit within the medical confines of female or male.
In The Life: Used by communities of colour to denote inclusion in the LGBTQ+ community.
Invisible Minority: A group whose minority status is not always immediately visible, such as some disabled people and LGBTIQ+ people. This lack of visibility may make organizing for rights difficult.
It: A pronoun used to refer to a thing; the use of “it” as a pronoun for a person is extremely offensive in its complete dehumanization of the subject.
Kiki: A term which grew out of the poor Black and Latino-based gay subculture of New York City, a gathering of friends for the purpose of gossiping and chit-chat, and later appropriated for the song “Let’s Have a Kiki” by the Scissor Sisters.
Kink: An unconventional sexual practice.
Kinsey Scale: Also called the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale, attempts to describe a person’s sexual experience or response at a given time. It uses a scale from 0, meaning exclusively heterosexual, to 6, meaning exclusively homosexual. In both the Male and Female volumes of the Kinsey Reports, an additional grade, listed as “X”, was used to mean “no socio-sexual contacts or reactions”; also known as asexuality.
Klein Sexual Orientation Grid: Building on the work of Alfred Kinsey, Fritz Klein created the Sexual Orientation Grid. As well as acknowledging that sexuality can change over time Kleins model gives a greater understanding of the difference between sexual identity and sexual practices.
Ladyboy (Kathoey): A man who dresses as and carries out the identity of a woman. Though the term is often translated as transgender, the term transgender is rarely used in Thailand.
Late in Life Lesbian: A woman who realises or acknowledges her lesbian identity later on in life.
Latinx: Gender neutral way of referring to people of Latin American descent.
Lavender Marriage: A type of male-female marriage of convenience in which one or both partners are not straight. In gay slang, the spouse whose presence conceals the other’s sexual orientation is referred to as a “beard”.
Leather Community: A community which encompasses those who are into leather, sado-masochism, bondage and domination, uniform, cowboys, rubber, and other fetishes. Although the leather community is often associated with the queer community, it is not exclusively LGBTQ+.
Lesbian: A woman attracted to people of the same gender.
Lesbophobia: An irrational fear or hatred of women who are sexually or romantically attracted to other women. Lesbophobia is a combination of homophobia and sexism.
Lezzie/Lesbo/Lezzer: Short for lesbian. Can be derogatory. Has been reclaimed by some lesbians including Lizzy the Lezzy, a popular cartoon on YouTube.
Lesbos: A Greek island, that was home to the famous lesbian poet Sappho. It is where the word lesbian originated from.
Lesbian Bed Death: A term coined by sociologist Pepper Schwartz in her 1983 book American Couples. According to Schwartz, lesbian couples in committed relationships have less sex than any other type of couple, and they generally experience less sexual intimacy the longer the relationship lasts. The study has been criticized by the lesbian community and psychologists as popular myth.
Lesbian Separatism: The choice of some women to surround themselves amongst lesbians only. This was particularly popular in the early years of the feminist movement.
Lesbian Two Degrees of Separation: A theory built upon the observation that every lesbian in a given community has dated every other lesbian’s ex-girlfriend.
Lesbian Until Graduation (LUG)/Gay Until Graduation (GUG)/Bisexual Until Graduation (BUG): Used to describe people primarily of secondary school or college age who are assumed to be experimenting with or adopting a temporary lesbian, gay or bisexual identity. The term suggests that the person to whom it is applied will ultimately adopt a strictly heterosexual identity. It is dismissive of the fluidity of many peoples sexuality.
The L Word: A television drama following the lives of lesbian and bisexual women, their friends, family, and lovers. Due to its high popularity amongst queer women and their straight counterparts, the show’s title is often seen and referenced throughout pop culture.
Life Partners: People who have committed to one another in a relationship that is usually romantic but can also signify a close friendship.
Lifestyle: Inaccurate term often used by anti-LGBTQ+ groups/people to demean LGBTQ+ people. There is no one LGBTQ+ lifestyle.
Limp Wrist: A stereotype of effeminate gay men, limp wrist is used as a cultural signifier of gay men. While reclaimed by some gay men it can still be offensive.
Lipstick Lesbian: A phrase with two different meanings depending on location. In the US the expression is slang used to describe lesbian and bisexual women who exhibit a greater amount of feminine gender attributes relative to other gender expressions, such as wearing make-up (thus, lipstick), wearing dresses or skirts and having other characteristics associated with feminine women. In the UK, the term is used to imply either a curiosity, or a willingness to entertain for attention, or shock, in public.
MAAB: Acronym standing for male assigned at birth.
Male: Biological term used to classify certain sexual characteristics in humans and other animals.
Man: A gender identity. Often conflated with biological sex, a man is anyone who identifies as such.
Manscaping: Not exclusively an LGBTQ+ word, but the concept has its roots in the gay community. Manscaping is when a man grooms himself by either shaving, trimming, or waxing hairy parts of the body.
Manwoman: Derogatory term for a trans person.
Marriage Equality: Another term for same-sex marriage.
Microaggressions: The commonplace ways that communicate hostility, negativity and derogatory beliefs about a persons marginalised identity.
Minority Stress: Describes chronically high levels of stress faced by members of stigmatized minority groups such as LGBTQ+ people. It may be caused by a number of factors, including poor social support and low socio-economic status, but the most well-understood causes of minority stress are interpersonal prejudice and discrimination. Numerous scientific studies have shown that minority individuals experience a high degree of prejudice, which causes stress responses (e.g., high blood pressure, anxiety) that build over time, eventually leading to poor mental and physical health.
Misgendering: Using the wrong pronouns. Misgendering can be accidental or a microaggression against trans people.
Metrosexual: A term given for straight men who are very concerned with their appearance and maintain stereotypes generally associated with gay men.
Monosexual: Sexual attraction to one gender.
MSM: Men who engage in same-sex behaviour, but who may not necessarily self-identify as gay or bisexual.
Multisexual: Sexual attraction to people of multiple and no genders.
Mx: Gender neutral alternative to Mr or Ms.
Nancy: Derogatory name for a gay man.
Neutrois: A gender identity similar to null gender or agender. Characterised by a lack of felt gender.
Nibling: Gender-neutral term for the child/children of a sibling.
Non-Binary: Identifying outside the gender binary.
Nonmonosexual: People who are attracted to more than one gender.
Non-op: A trans person who chooses not to have Sex Reassignment Surgery/Sex Confirmation Surgery/Genital Reconstruction Surgery.
Oestrogen/Estrogen: The main hormone given in HRT for trans women.
Omnigender: Possessing all genders. The term is used specifically to refute the concept of only two genders.
Omnisexual: Attraction to all genders and people of no gender.
On T: When a person takes the hormone testosterone.
Oppression: Exists when one social group, whether knowingly or unconsciously, exploits another social group for its own benefit. Oppression exists on many levels from individual to societal.
Out (of the Closet): Refers to varying degrees of being open about one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Outing (Someone): When someone reveals another person’s sexuality or gender identity to an individual or group, often without the person’s consent or approval; not to be confused with coming out.
Packing: Wearing padding or a phallic object in the front of pants or underwear to give the appearance of having a penis. Packing is commonly practised by trans men. People who cross-dress or perform in drag as male may also pack.
Pangender: Pan meaning all, a pangender person’s gender identity is comprised of all genders.
Panromantic: A person who experiences romantic attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions.
Pansexual: A person who experiences sexual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions.
Pansy: Derogatory term for a gay man.
Passing: The ability to be regarded as the gender you identify with or are trying to convey. It is also used for LGBQ+ people who can pass as heterosexual.
Phase: Many LGBTQ+ youth are seen to be going through a phase when they initially come out. This is a derogatory term and no LGBTQ+ identity, no matter how long is it held for, should be referred to as a phase.
Pillow Princess: A person who wants to experience pleasure from oral sex, but who is unwilling to reciprocate.
Pink Sheep: A member of the family who is LGBTQ+. Plays off the cultural understanding of the term black sheep, meaning the rebel or outcast of a family.
Polygender: A person whose gender identity is comprised of many genders.
Polyromantic: Romantically attracted to many genders.
Polysexual: Sexually attracted to many genders.
Poof: Derogatory term for a gay man.
Poppers: A slang term given to the chemical class called alkyl nitrites that are inhaled for recreational purposes, especially as an aphrodisiac. Today poppers are mainly sold in cap vials. Effects are instantaneous and brief, but intense. These effects are caused by a sudden surge of blood to the heart and brain. Light-headedness, giddiness, heat flush or heightened sensual awareness may also result. This is known as a head rush. Some users may also experience the impression of time slowing down. The effects fade two to five minutes after use. Users are often left with a headache.
Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP): Any preventive medical treatment started immediately after exposure to a pathogen (such as a disease-causing virus), in order to prevent infection by the pathogen and the development of the disease. In the case of HIV exposure, post-exposure prophylaxis is a course of antiretroviral drugs which reduces the risk of seroconversion after events with high risk of exposure to HIV (e.g., unprotected anal or vaginal sex, needlestick injuries, or sharing needles). PEP is recommended for any HIV negative person who has recently been exposed to HIV for any reason. To be most effective, treatment should begin within an hour of exposure. After 72 hours post-exposure PEP is much less effective, and may not be effective at all. Prophylactic treatment for HIV typically lasts four weeks.
Post-Op: A trans person who has received Sexual Reassignment Surgery.
Pre-Op: A trans person who has not received Sexual Reassignment Surgery.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP): Pre-exposure prophylaxis is when people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. It is highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed.
Pride (Gay Pride or LGBTQ+ Pride): The positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and queer (LGBTQ+) people to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance. It is generally celebrated in June to mark the Stonewall Riots.
Privilege: Unearned access to resources (social power) only readily available to some people as a result of their social group membership.
Pronouns: Linguistic tools used to refer to someone in the third person, for example, he/him, she/her and they/them.
Puto: A derogatory Mexican term for a gay man.
QPOC: Abbreviation for Queer People of colour.
Queen: Term for a gay man. Can be derogatory. Can also refer to a Drag Queen.
Queer: Historically, this was a derogatory slang term used to identify LGBTQ+ people. It has been embraced and reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community as a symbol of pride, representing all individuals who fall out of the gender and sexuality norms.
Queer Nationalism: The movement/dream for a homeland for LGBTQ+ people. Australian activists declared the Cato Islands the ‘Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea’ in 2004. Organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Commonwealth Kingdom, Unified Gay Tribe, and Gay Homeland Foundation embrace the idea of a Queer nation-state. The premise is that queer people have a right to a safe and national homeland to embrace their identities freely and grow their culture. They also want recognition by the United Nations and a country where LGBTQ+ people have all the rights that are not afforded to them in other countries around the world.
Questioning: The process of exploring one’s own sexual orientation or gender identity.
Rainbow Flag: The Rainbow Freedom Flag was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker to designate the great diversity of the LGBTIQ community. It has been recognized by the International Flag Makers Association as the official flag of the LGBTIQ civil rights movement. Originally the flag contained eight stripes, hot pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic and art, indigo/blue for serenity and harmony and violet for spirit. When demand for the flag rose the hot pink stripe was dropped due to a lack of hot pink fabric. It was later modified again to remove the turquoise stripe as it was obscured when hanging in San Francisco’s Market Street. There are many variations of the rainbow flag including the pink and black triangles. At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, one variation included a black stripe at the bottom for those who had died from AIDS. It was suggested that when a cure was found the black stripes be removed from the flags and burned.
Recruitment: A term used by anti-LGBTQ+ groups. It implies that LGBTQ+ people target young and/or impressionable people to turn them gay. Can also be referred to as promoting the gay lifestyle.
RLE: Short for Real Life Experience, also called social transition. It is the process whereby a transgender person expresses their true gender for a period of time to show they can function and are happy within that role. This process has historically been a requirement by the medical establishment before any hormone treatment can be administered or an individual can go through sex reassignment surgery.
Romantic orientation: A measure of who you are romantically attracted to as being distinct from who you are sexually attracted to. A woman might be homosexual but panromantic, for instance, meaning that they only have a sexual relationship with other women but they can be in a romantic relationship with someone of any gender.
Safe Space: A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability. A place where the rules guard each person’s self-respect and dignity and strongly encourage everyone to respect others. These spaces may be open, where anyone can join, or closed where only members of a certain community or group are allowed in.
Same Gender Loving (SGL): A phrase coined by the African American/Black queer communities used as an alternative for gay and lesbian by people who may see those as terms of the white queer community.
Same Gender Oriented: A gender-neutral term for someone who is primarily sexually or romantically attracted to the same gender.
Same-Sex Marriage: A more inclusive term than gay marriage.
Sapiosexual: A person who is sexually attracted to the intelligence of other.
Second Gen: Short for second generation, refers to kids of LGBTQ+ parents who also identify as LGBTQ+.
Sex: A medical term for a certain combination of gonads, chromosomes, external gender organs, secondary sex characteristics and hormonal balances. Common terms are male, female and intersex.
Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)/Sex Confirmation Surgery/ Genital Reconstruction Surgery (GRS): A term used by some medical professionals to refer to a group of surgical options that alter a person’s sex to match their gender identity.
Sexual Behaviour: The sexual activities an individual engages in.
Sexual Minority: Refers to members of minority sexual orientations or people who engage in sexual activities that are not part of the mainstream.
Sexual Orientation: A person’s sexual identity in relation to the gender to which they are attracted.
Sexual Preference: The types of sexual intercourse, stimulation, and gratification one likes to receive and participate in. Generally, when this term is used, it is being mistakenly interchanged with sexual orientation, creating an illusion that one has a choice (or preference) in who they are attracted to.
She-Male: An offensive term used to refer to MTF trans individuals by the sex/porn industries to objectify, exotify and eroticize the trans body.
Shirt Lifter: British urban slang for a male homosexual who lifts his shirt to enable sexual access.
Sip-Ins: Occurred during the mid-1960’s when the New York Liquor Authority banned the sale of alcohol to disorderly homosexuals. Gay rights groups like the Mattachine Society held events to protest and raise awareness about the discrimination by disobeying the ban.
Sissy: A derogatory term for a person, usually a man, who is regarded as effeminate or a coward. Has been reclaimed by some, most notably by drag queen RuPaul on his song Sissy That Walk.
Skoliosexual: Attraction to trans and non-binary people.
Soft Butch/Chapstick Lesbian/Stud Fem: A woman who exhibits some stereotypical butch and lesbian traits without fitting the masculine stereotype associated with butch lesbians. These traits may or may not include short hair, clothing that was designed for men, and masculine mannerisms and behaviours. Soft butches generally appear androgynous, rather than adhering to strictly feminine or masculine norms and gender identities. In the spectrum of gender expression among lesbians, a soft butch lies closer to a butch lesbian than to a lipstick lesbian.
STP (Stand To Pee): A device used to urinate while standing for trans men and cis women. It can be part of a packer or made or bought separately.
Straight: A person who is attracted to people of a different gender than themselves; often referred to as heterosexual.
Straight-Acting: A term for an LGBTQ+ person whose expression and mannerisms read as straight. Although the label is mostly used by gay and bisexual men, it may also be used to describe a lesbian or bisexual woman exhibiting a feminine appearance and mannerisms. It can be considered derogatory.
Strap On: A term for a dildo and harness to be worn during sex. Some trans men use strap-ons and in this context, it may be called packing hard.
Stereotype: An exaggerated oversimplified belief about an entire group of people without regard for individual differences.
Stonewall Riots: A series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ+ community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States
Stone Butch: A butch woman or trans* person who appears masculine in character and dress, who may top their partners sexually (and sometimes emotionally), and who may be averse to sexual contact with their genitalia. A Stone Butch may identify as queer, genderqueer, or transgender. Stone Butches are very diverse in emotion and sexual expression. Common stereotypes of a stone butch are that they are extremely masculine, emotionally unavailable, hard butches. In reality, a stone butch may not meet any of these descriptors.
Stone Femme: Patterned after the more widely known term stone butch. Identification with the term is not necessarily dependent upon the stone femmes physical appearance or gender expression, or upon the identity of the stone femmes partner.
Testosterone: The main hormone for trans men given during HRT. Testosterone has many effects including deepening of voice pitch, decrease in body fat and increase in muscle and the development of facial and body hair.
Third Gender: A person who does not identify with the traditional genders of man or woman, but identifies with another gender. Third gender is often the gender category available in societies that recognize three or more genders.
Top Surgery: The surgical procedures on the breasts of trans* patients.
- Breast Augmentation Surgery: A breast implant is a prosthesis used to correct the size, form, and texture of a woman’s breast. In surgical practice, for the reconstruction of a breast, the tissue expander device is a temporary breast prosthesis used to form and establish an implant pocket for placing the permanent breast implant.
- Mastectomy: The medical term for the surgical removal of one or both breasts, partially or completely.
- Male Chest Reconstruction: Usually done alongside a double mastectomy, making incisions that will fade into the contours of a male chest and relocation and resizing of the nipples. If the breasts are small enough then the procedure can be done by keyhole surgery where the incision is made at the nipple and liposuction is used to remove breast tissue.
Top, Bottom and Versatile: Terms that describe roles during sexual intercourse, especially between two men. A top is a person who penetrates, a bottom is one who receives penetration, and a versatile engages in both activities. These terms may be elements of self-identity that indicate an individual’s usual preference, but might also describe broader social, psychological, or sexual identities.
Tranny: A derogatory term for a trans person. Sometimes a term reclaimed by trans* people for empowerment.
Tranny Chaser: A derogatory term for people who are attracted to trans* people. The term tranny chaser was originally (and is still predominantly) used to describe men sexually interested in pre-operative trans women, but it is now being used by some trans men as well. More recently, less pejorative terms such as trans-oriented and trans-attracted have emerged.
Trans*: An umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum. Trans (without the asterisk) is best applied to trans men and trans women. The asterisk is added to include all non-cisgender gender identities, including transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderfuck, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.
Transbian/Tryke: A trans-female-identified person who is attracted to/loves other women.
Transgender: A blanket term used to describe all people who are not cisgender. Occasionally used as “transgendered” but the ‘ed’ is misleading, as it implies something happened to the person to make them transgender, which is not the case.
Transitioning: A term used to describe the process of moving from one sex/gender to another, sometimes this is done by hormone or surgical treatments.
Trans-man: A person who has or intends to transition from female to male. Not all men who transition identify as a trans man, some identify as men.
Transphobia: Fear or hatred of transgender people; transphobia is manifested in a number of ways, including violence, harassment and discrimination.
Transsexual: A person who has/is going to undergo medical treatments to change their biological sex to align it with their gender identity; often confused with trans-man/trans-woman. Transsexual is an outdated term, many now prefer the term transgender.
Transvestite: Outdated term for a person who cross-dresses.
Trans-woman: A person who has or intends to transition from male to female. Not all women who transition identify as a trans woman, some identify as women.
Triangle: A symbol of remembrance. Gay men in the Nazi concentration camps were forced to wear the pink triangle as a designation of being homosexual. Women who did not conform to social roles, often believed to be lesbians, had to wear the black triangle. The triangles are worn today as symbols of freedom, reminding us to never forget.
Tribadism: A term that has historically been used as a definition of lesbian sex. As of late the term now refers to a scissoring sexual position in which two women stimulate one another with their vulvas.
Tucking: Refers to the practice of hiding the male genitalia so that they are not visible through tight clothing. The most effective way of tucking involves pushing of the testicles up into the inguinal canal; most men can do this without any pain. Once this is done the penis is pulled back between the person’s legs and a tight pair of panties or a gaff is then worn over the top to hold everything in place.
Twink: A gay slang term describing a young or young-looking man with a slender build, little or no body hair, and no facial hair.
Two-Spirit: A term traditionally used by Native American people to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfil roles of two genders.
U=U: Stands for Undetectable equals Untransmittable, U=U is the movement to inform people about the low risk involved in engaging in sexual activities with HIV positive people who have an undetectable viral level.
Vanilla sex: What a culture regards as standard or conventional sexual behaviour. Different cultures, subcultures and individuals have different ideas about what constitutes this type of sex. Often, it is interpreted as sex which does not involve such elements as BDSM, kink, or fetish activities.
WSW: An acronym standing for women who have sex with women. It is a term used to identify women who may or may not identify as lesbian or bisexual, but have engaged in same-sex encounters.
Woman: A gender identity. Often conflated with biological sex, a woman is anyone who identifies as such.
Womxn/Womyn: In a move to make the word less patriarchal some people are spelling woman with an x or y in place of the a. It is considered to be more feminist and inclusive of trans and non-binary identities. Some organisations add an asterisk (*) at the end of women/woman to denote this inclusivity of trans women and non-binary people.
Yaoi: Also known as Boys’ Love, yaoi is a Japanese term for female-oriented fictional media that focus on homoerotic or homoromantic male sexual relationships, usually created by female authors. As yaoi works depict sexual relationships between males, the genre attracts a gay male audience as well; however, manga aimed at a gay male audience (bara) is considered a separate genre. The genre also attracts lesbian, bisexual and questioning female readers, and several prominent yaoi authors are lesbian.
Yuri: Also known as Girls’ Love, yuri is a Japanese term for content and a genre involving love between women in manga, anime, and related Japanese media. Yuri focuses on the sexual or the emotional aspects of the relationship.
Ze/Hir: Gender neutral pronouns that can be used instead of he/she and his/hers. Some trans* people use singular they instead of zie/hir.
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