LGBTQ+: Learning the terminology

Gabriella Backus, Artistic Editor

In a flowering new age of sexualities and gender identities, many teens find themselves confused as how to identify themselves and others. Here’s a helpful guide for puzzled newcomers to the LGBT community’s many identification terms.


Lesbian: The L in the LGBT; A woman who is sexually and romantically attracted to other women.

Gay: The G in LGBT; A person who is attracted primarily to members of the same sex.

Although it can be used for any person in the LGBT community as a blanket term in the same sense that any LGBT person can call themselves queer, gay usually describes a man who is sexually and romantically attracted to other men.

Gay women are called lesbians, although it is not incorrect to label them as gay.

Queer: ½ of the Q in LGBTQ; An umbrella term sometimes used by LGBTQIAP+ people to refer to the entire LGBT community.

Queer was often used during the 16th century onwards to describe something strange, eccentric or peculiar, and was often used as a slur labeling members of the LGBT community. Many LGBT people have reclaimed the term in more recent years.

It can also mean a person who is attracted to men, women, genderqueer people, and/or other gender nonconforming people. Not to be confused with pansexuals or bisexuals, queer people do not wish to put a specific label on themselves, often seeing their sexuality as more fluid and thus are unable or unwilling to further categorize themselves.

Asexual: ¼ of the A in LGBTQUIA; Someone who does not experience sexual attraction, or has only a very low desire for sexual activity.

Pansexual: The P in LGBTQUIAP+; Someone who is sexually or romantically attracted to various gender identities. They can be attracted to cisgender, transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people, although said attractions are exclusive to the pansexual.

Bisexual: The B in LGBT; Someone who is sexually and romantically attracted to only two gender identities.

The difference between bisexual and pansexual is that bisexuals are only attracted to two different genders. Pansexuals are attracted to multiple genders.

Bisexuals are often known to be attracted to men and women, but they can also be attracted to 2 nonbinary genders, or 1 binary and 1 nonbinary gender.

Demisexual: Someone who is sexually attracted only to people with whom they share an emotional bond with.

Demisexuality is often seen as a type of asexuality.


Gender Binary: Referring to male and female genders.

Transgender/Trans: The T in LGBT; Umbrella term for all people who do not identify with their assigned gender at birth or the gender binary.

Transgender individuals who do not identify with their assigned gender at birth often dress to match the gender they feel most aligned with. They can choose to use hormone injections or undergo surgery to better watch their preferred gender, but not all transgender people do so.

Agender: ¼ of the A in LGBTQUIA; Individual who is genderless, lacking male, female, or nonbinary identity.

Agender literally means ‘without gender.’

Genderfluid: Individual whose gender identity varies over time. At any time, they may identify as male, female, or any other nonbinary identity.

Genderqueer: An umbrella term for individuals with gender identities which fall outside of the accepted gender binary, similarly to nonbinary.

Genderqueer, like queer, also can be used as a gender identity. It can refer to those who do not wish to put a specific label on themselves, often seeing their gender as more fluid and thus are unable or unwilling to further categorize themselves.

It also can mean the individual is both queer and nonbinary.

Nonbinary: Umbrella term for any individual who feels their gender identity does not fit within the gender binary, but without being any more specific about the nature of their gender. Hence, the gender nonbinary.

Genderqueer and nonbinary are very similar. Genderqueer means a queer gender while nonbinary means gender that falls outside the gender binary model, but is not necessarily queer. Genderqueer also has a negative connotation, because queer is a reclaimed slur.

Demigender: umbrella term for nonbinary gender identities that have a partial connection to a certain gender.

Demigirls feel a partial connection to female identity.

Demiboys feel a partial connection to male identity.


Intersex: The I in LGBTQUIA; A person whose sexual anatomy or chromosomes do not fit with the traditional markers of “female” and “male.”

The most popular intersex flag is horizontally striped purple, white, blue, and pink, then white and purple. An alternate version is entirely yellow with a purple ring in the middle.

Ally: ¼ the A in LGBTQUIA; A non-LGBT person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBT people
Also means an LGBT person who supports rights for other LGBT people who do not have the same sexual or gender orientation as they do. For example, a lesbian can be a trans ally.
The ally flag is a striped black and white flag, with a striped rainbow arrow cutting up from the bottom.

Aromantic: ¼ the A in LGBTQUIA; A person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others.
Aromantics may still feel sexual attraction to others, however.
The aromantic flag is horizontally striped dark green, light green, yellow, gray, and black.