Allies & Advocates

Glossary of Common LGBT Language

Ally: A person who supports and honors diversity, acts accordingly to challenge homophobic and heterosexist remarks and behaviors, and is willing to explore and understand these forms of bias within him or herself.

Androgyny: A profound blend of gender that blurs the distinction between masculine and feminine.

Bi-gender/Dual-gender: A person who possesses and expresses a distinctly masculine and a distinctly feminine persona; is comfortable and enjoys presenting in both gender roles.

Biphobia: The fear and hatred of or discomfort with people who are bisexual.

Bisexual: A person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to members of either sex, though not necessarily simultaneously.

Closet: To be "in the closet" means to hide one's sexual identity in order to keep a job, a housing situation, friends, or in some other ways, to survive. Many LGBT persons are "out" in some situations and closeted in others.

Coming Out: To publicly affirm one's sexual orientation, sometimes to one person in conversation, sometimes by an act that takes place in the public eye. It is not a single event, but a life-long process. In each new situation, a LGBT person must decide whether to disclose his or her sexual orientation.

Domestic Partner: One who lives with her or his beloved and/or is at least emotionally and financially connected in a supportive manner with another.

Drag King/Queen: A man or woman dressed as the opposite gender, usually overdone or exaggerated, often lesbian or gay.

Freedom Rings: A chain of six aluminum rings, each of a different color forming a rainbow to represent diversity; worn as a symbol of LGBT pride.

Gay: An umbrella term for a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to members of the same sex, although it most specifically refers to men who are attracted to other men. It is equally acceptable and more accurate to refer to gay women as lesbians.

Gender: The collection of characteristics that are culturally associated with maleness and femaleness; gender is to "masculine" and "feminine" as sex is "male" and "female".

Gender Blending or Bending: Dressing in such a way as to question the traditional feminine or masculine qualities assigned to articles of clothing or adornment; gender blending/bending may be part of "fashion" or possibly a "political statement."

Heterosexual: A person who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, and relationally attracted to people of the opposite sex.

Heterosexual Privilege: Social benefits accorded to those individuals who identify as heterosexual.

Homophobia: The fear of homosexuals or homosexuality, or of any behavior, belief, and/or attitude of self or others that does not conform to traditional, stereotypical sex roles. Also said to be the insecurity one has with his or her own sexuality.

Intersex: One who is born with both male and female sexual organs.

Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women.

Outing: Making someone's sexual orientation known without his or her permission.

Queer: A term used most often by young gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people that is inclusive of all parts of their identity and behavior; many LGBT youth use this word as a "reclaiming of the term". Many older LGBT people feel that the word has been hatefully used against them and are reluctant to embrace it.

Rainbow Flag: The LGBT Rainbow Freedom Flag was designed in the 1970's to designate the immense diversity of the LGBT community; it is also a sign of LGBT pride.

Sexual Orientation: Used to describe everything that goes into why people are attracted to each other both emotionally as well as sexually.

Third Sex: Generally, a term applied to transgendered people who express a "gender alternative" to traditional masculine and feminine roles.

Transgender: An umbrella term used to include all people who cross gender lines, including transsexuals, cross-dressers, and drag queens.

Transsexual: One who wants to have, has had, or should have sex reassignment surgery. This also includes non-surgical transsexuals.

Transvestite/Cross-Dresser: One who from time to time wears the clothes of another gender.

Triangle: A symbol of remembrance. Gay men in the Nazi concentration camps were forced to wear the pink triangle. Lesbians had to wear the black triangle.

Source: 365-Day Odyssey through Sexual Orientation handbook

Page last modified December 22, 2010