Pride Month Glossary
Many people refrain from talking about sexual orientation and gender expression identity because it feels taboo, or because they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. This partial glossary from the Human Rights Campaign website may give you the words and meanings to help make conversations easier and more comfortable.
Ally – A person who is not LGBTQ but shows support for LGBTQ people and promotes equality in a variety of ways.
Androgynous – Identifying and/or presenting as neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine.
Asexual – The lack of a sexual attraction or desire for other people.
Bisexual – Being emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree.
Cisgender – A term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.
Closeted – Describes an LGBTQ person who has not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Coming out – The process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts and appreciates their sexual orientation or gender identity and begins to share that with others on their own terms.
Gay – Being emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender.
Gender expression – External appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.
Gender identity – One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.
Gender transition – The process by which some people strive to more closely align their internal knowledge of gender with its outward appearance. Some people socially transition, whereby they might begin dressing, using names and pronouns and/or be socially recognized as another gender. Others undergo physical transitions in which they modify their bodies through medical interventions.
Homosexual/Homosexuality – An outdated term to describe a sexual orientation in which a person feels physically and emotionally attracted to people of the same gender. Historically, it was a term used to pathologize gay and lesbian people.
Lesbian – A woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women.
LGBTQ+ – An acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.” The “+” at the end acknowledges and includes the many other identities that exist.
Lifestyle – How a person lives and behaves; for example, a person’s hobbies, environment, family make-up, etc. This term has been used inaccurately by antigay extremists to denigrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lives. As there is no one straight lifestyle, there is no one lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender lifestyle.
Living openly – A state in which LGBTQ people are comfortably out about their sexual orientation or gender identity – where and when it feels appropriate to them.
Outing – Exposing someone’s lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender identity to others without their permission. Outing someone can have serious repercussions on employment, economic stability, personal safety or religious or family situations.
Pansexual – 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.
Queer – Similar to pansexual, queer can be an identity label meaning that a person is attracted to people of many genders; however, queer is not universally accepted within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting or describing someone who self-identifies that way.
Same-gender loving – A term some prefer to use instead of lesbian, gay or bisexual to express attraction to and love of people of the same gender.
Sexual orientation – An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.
Transgender – An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.
Visit the Human Rights Campaign to find a more extensive list of definitions.