Sexual Orientation

Intro blurb about this topic.

  • The term “gay” typically — but not exclusively — refers to men who are attracted to other men. While the term “lesbian” generally describes women who are attracted to other women, some women prefer to describe themselves as “gay,” as the latter is commonly used to refer to both. When possible, ask the person what term they use.
  • LGBTQ+” is an umbrella term that is an abbreviation for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer,” with the plus sign acknowledging additional sexual orientations and/or genders.
  • LGBTQ+ communities” is preferable to “LGBTQ community.” The abbreviation encompasses many distinct communities, rather than one monolithic community.
  • Be as specific as possible as to which community the topic affects. Issues that affect the gay community may not affect transgender people, etc.
  • Some people use terms other than lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer to describe their sexual orientation. For example, “pansexual” typically describes someone who’s attracted to people regardless of their sex, gender identity or gender expression.
    • The term “pansexual” can be related to — but is not the same as — the term “bisexual,” which typically describes someone who is attracted to two or more genders.
  • Queer” originated as a pejorative term for gay people, but in recent years, some people in LGBTQ+ communities have begun to reclaim the term as self-affirming. Despite that shift, the term “queer” is still offensive to many people. Be careful when using this term as an umbrella term for LGBTQ+.