· By Team PLEASE
It’s only natural that the language around sexual identities and their definitions is continuously evolving, as we are continuously evolving. However it’s incredibly important to keep up with these terms and respect how people decide to define their sexualities and identities by having a basic understanding of them.
If we can talk openly about these topics whether it’s online or with friends, we can bring more education and understanding, hoping to create a safer and more comfortable environment for everyone.
So we’ve decided to compile a list of definitions of each sexual orientation and some general terms that are good to know, keeping in mind that this will be an evolving article that will be updated accordingly.
Looking into all the sexual orientations, the immediate thought is the well known acronym LGBTQ+. These five letters stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. Keeping in mind that transgender refers to gender identity rather than sexual orientation.
And then there’s the + which represents those who don’t identify as straight but do not identify with any of the 5 letters mentioned either. So sexualities such as intersexual, asexual, pansexual and many many more. Let’s break these down one by one.
Before we get into it let’s just clear up the very definition of sexual orientation / sexuality.
Sexual Orientation / Sexuality
This describes a person’s physical, romantic and or emotional attraction to another person.
Gender Identity refers to the inner experience of your own gender, whether you feel like a man, woman, genderqueer, a-gender, non binary or any other identity. (We’ll be discussing these too)
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to look like a man, woman or non binary person.
Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation/Sexuality are not the same.
How you identify your gender lives separately to who you are attracted to and vice versa. Ok now let’s get into it.
L - Lesbian
A woman whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction is to other women.
Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay or as gay women.
Let’s avoid identifying lesbians as "homosexuals,". This is considered a derogatory term.
G - Gay
The adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attractions are to people of the same gender (e.g., gay man, gay people).
Sometimes lesbian is the preferred term for women.
Again let’s avoid identifying gay people as "homosexuals."
A person who has the capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attractions to those of the same gender or to those of another gender.
People may experience this attraction in differing ways and degrees over their lifetime. Bisexual people need not have had specific sexual experiences to be bisexual; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual.
Similar to questioning, people might say they're bicurious if they're exploring whether or not they’re attracted to people of the same gender as well as people of another gender.
A person who has the capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, or emotional attractions to any person, regardless of gender identity. Pansexual people need not have had specific sexual experiences to be pansexual; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as pansexual.
An adjective used by some people, whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual (e.g. queer person, queer woman). Sometimes, for those who only identify as queer, the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations they feel don't apply to them. But many people identify as both queer and another sexual orientation (e.g. queer and a lesbian). Once considered a pejorative term, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBTQ+ people to describe themselves; however, it is not a universally accepted term, even within the LGBTQ+ community.
The Asexualuality Spectrum :
An adjective used to describe people who experience little to no sexual attraction to any other people. (e.g., asexual person).
In general, if you identify as asexual (or as an “ace,” as some asexual individuals label themselves), you may experience little or no sexual attraction to others in varying degrees. But that doesn’t mean you never participate in or enjoy sexual activities with others.
Demisexuality is a sexual orientation where people only experience sexual attraction to folks that they have close emotional connections with.
Graysexual or greysexual refers to people who experience limited sexual attraction. In other words, they experience sexual attraction very rarely or with very low intensity.
This is also known as gray-asexuality, gray-A, or gray-ace.
Graysexual people fit between firmly asexual and allosexual identities. This stems from the idea that sexuality isn’t black or white — there’s a “gray area” that many people fall into.
People who are allosexual are those that experience sexual attraction to others. Allosexual people might identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or of another sexual orientation. That’s because “allosexual” doesn’t describe who you’re attracted to but rather the fact that you’re sexually attracted to someone at all.
An adjective used to describe people who do not experience romantic attraction (e.g., aromantic person)
People who do not experience romantic attraction until a strong emotional or sexual connection is formed with a partner.
An adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attraction is to people of the opposite gender. Also known as straight.
Being primarily sexually, aesthetically, and/or romantically attracted to masculinity
Being primarily sexually, aesthetically, and/or romantically attracted to femininity.
Describes people who have consensual relationships that involve multiple partners. Polyamorous people talk openly with their partners about having or having the desire to have sexual and/or emotional relationships with multiple people and often set ground rules for their relationships.
Being primarily sexually, romantically, and/or aesthetically attracted to genderqueer, transgender, and/or non-binary people.
Now let’s talk about Gender Identity.
To most people there are only 2 genders, known as the gender binary, but that’s not everyone’s experience.
If your gender differs from the male or female label on your birth certificate, you may identify as transgender.
If your gender doesn't fit into the gender binary, you may identify as non-binary.
Transgender means that your gender identity differed from the gender that was assigned to you at birth based on your physical appearance - also known as ‘sex assigned at birth - which is usually male or female.
Transgender people use different terms to describe themselves. It’s always best to use the language and preference that a person uses for themselves - rather ask than assume.
Non-binary people are those whose gender does not fit within the male or female labels then this is considered non-binary.
This refers to people who have the same gender identity that was given to them at birth. For example, a man who was labeled as a male at birth would be considered a cis-male.
Some other terms worth knowing and understanding
Coming out refers to the process that people who identify as LGBTQIA+ go through as they accept their own orientation and share this identity with other people.
Coming out is a very brave thing to do, and it's extremely personal and is a different process for each person
A person who self-identifies as LGBTQ+ in their personal, public, and/or professional lives. Preferred to be openly gay.
Closeted or rather Not Out
Describes a person who is not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. It's better to simply refer to someone as "not out" about being LGBTQ+. Some individuals may be out to some people in their life, but not out to others due to fear of rejection, harassment, violence, losing one's job, or other concerns
OUTDATED TERMS. We also need to know what not to say.
An outdated clinical term considered derogatory and offensive.
This is considered a derogatory word to describe queer women. Some women have reclaimed the word, however, and use it for themselves. Do not call someone a dyke unless you know that they have reclaimed the word.
This is considered a derogatory word to describe queer men. Again, perhaps there are some men have reclaimed the word, but it should never be used to describe someone unless you know they’ve taken it back for themself.
As mentioned before, this article will continue to be updated accordingly.