The term ‘LGBTQ+’ aims to be as inclusive of as many groups of people as possible. However, the ways we describe sexual and gender orientations are always changing and evolving.
The sexual revolution of the 1960s gave birth to a train of thought which insisted that those who identified as non-straight should have their own term. The outcome of that was the term gay, which was positively adopted by the community in the 1970s. It was paired with the term “lesbian” and the two gendered terms became the norm.
The term LGBT came to the forefront in the late 1980s, as activist groups rallied for an inclusive description of all those who identified as non-straight. In the 1990s, the term was accepted by those inside and outside the community. However, tension between various factions of the community has sprung up over the use of the term. To some, LGBT no longer seems representative of one community, with people identifying as identities which couldn’t be defined within the LGBT mould. This thought led us to our current incarnation of LGBTQ+, which importantly includes those questioning their identities, as well as a ‘plus’ for the raft of others who feel different in a variety of ways. However, a debate still rages over how we should define our community, and whether or not we are truly one “community”.Gender identity is an ever-expanding area of expression.
The ever-evolving term LGBTQ+ has two common variants, although we can expect these to grow and evolve.
One is LGBTQIA, coined at the University of California, which introduced intersex and asexual to the fold. There is also the even heftier LGBTTQQIAPP – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual – but there has been an inevitable backlash to the long name.
For now though, it’s pretty safe to assume that LGBTQ+ is an inclusive and respectful term for all those who don’t identify as straight, although it’s important to respond to the requests of minority groups who may prefer to be called by another, more specific name.
There are two main types of relationships, sexual and romantic. The main difference between them is subtle, sexual attraction involves the desire for sexual contact with someone, while romantic attraction focuses more on the desire for a romantic relationship with someone, not purely related to sex.
Below are the most commonly known terms and have in the past been the most commonly used to describe oneself.
A woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women.
Someone who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to the same gender.
Someone who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one sex or gender not necessarily simultaneously.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
A term used to describe people who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Most of the terms listed below also have a romantic variation as well.
|Aromantic||Someone who is free from romantic attraction to anyone or free from the desire for romantic love.|
|Asexual||Has no or limited sexual desires.|
|Demisexual||Not experiencing any sexual attraction to another until a greater bond is formed.|
|Intersex||Having reproductive organs or external sexual characteristics of male and female.|
|No Lable||Someone who doesn’t use labels.|
|Omnisexual||Someone who sees gender and is sexually attracted to all genders.|
|Pansexual||Someone who does not see gender “gender-blind” and is sexually attracted to|
|Polyamorous ||Having multiple sexual relationships with the consent of all involved.|
|Queer||Often used to express fluid identities and orientations. Often used interchangeably with “LGBTQ.”|
|Straight/ Heterosexual||Someone who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the opposite gender.|
|Takatāpui||The Māori term for lesbian and gay.|
Gender identity is an ever-expanding area of expression and below is only a small portion of the terms available.
|Agender||Does not identify with any current gender.|
|Androgynous / Bigendered||Identifying and/or presenting as neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine.|
|Cisgender||People whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.|
|Fa’afafine||People who identify themselves as having a third-gender or non-binary role used mostly in Samoa.|
|Female||Identifying as a female is often associated with female genitalia, but it is not limited to this.|
|Gender-fluid||Someone who does not identify with a single fixed gender, having or expressing a fluid or unfixed gender identity.|
|Male||Identifying as a male is often associated with male genitalia, but it is not limited to this.|
|Non-binary ||An adjective describing a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Non-binary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. Some may also identify as transgender.|
Along with sexuality and gender terms, there are lots of terms used to describe phobias and other things related to the LGBTQ+ community.
|Ally||A person who is not LGBTQ+ but shows support for LGBTQ+ people and promotes equality in a variety of ways.|
|Biphobia||Prejudice, fear or hatred toward bisexuals.|
|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.|
|Gender-expansive||Conveys a wider, more flexible range of gender identity/ expression than typically associated with the binary gender system.|
|Gender expression||External appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behaviour, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviours 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.|
|Gender transition||The process by which some people strive to more closely align their internal gender with their outward appearance.|
|Homophobia||The fear and hatred of or discomfort with people who are attracted to members of the same sex.|
|Living openly||A state in which LGBTQ people are comfortably out about their sexual orientation or gender identity.|
|Outing||Exposing someone’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or other identity to others without their permission.|
|Sex assigned at birth||The sex (male or female) given to a child at birth, most often based on the child’s external anatomy. This is also referred to as “assigned sex at birth.”|
|Sexual orientation||An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.|
|Transphobia||The fear and hatred of, or discomfort with, transgender people.|