LGBTQ+ Explained

Just like anything else we need language and words to communicate to each other successfully. We make up new words all the time whether casually or for a profession or industry. We can’t interact or communicate successfully without language, so please take the time to learn some new words so you can interact and understand other people better.

Why are there so many words?

So what do all those letters mean?

What is attraction and how do you know for sure?

What is the difference between sex and gender?

What lead you to realize and accept that you're queer?

Why are there so many words?

A fair question for any topic and one that I have asked myself many times, as I trip and fall over my own mouth, while trying and failing to simply greet another human being. Just like anything else we need language and words to communicate to each other successfully. We make up new words all the time whether casually or for a profession or industry.

We have created and redefined words in recent history to help communicate about this topic better. Redefining words, stealing words from other languages, and creating new words happens all the time. It’s how the English language came into existence. So if you feel as if language changing is some sort of personal attack on your beliefs, know that it is just people trying to find new ways to communicate the ideas in their heads into your head.

We can’t interact or communicate successfully without language, so please take the time to learn some new words so you can interact and understand other people better.

So what do all those letters mean?

Sexual & Romantic Orientation

  • Sexual/romantic orientation: An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people. Note: an individual’s sexual orientation is independent of their gender identity.

  • Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women. Women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.

  • Gay: A person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. Men, women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.

  • Bisexual: A person 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. 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. Sometimes used interchangeably with pansexual.

  • Pansexual: Describes someone who has the potential for emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to people of all genders though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree. People may experience this attraction in differing ways and degrees over their lifetime. 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. Sometimes used interchangeably with bisexual.

  • Queer: A term people often use to express a spectrum of identities and orientations that are counter to the mainstream. Queer is often used as a catch-all to include many people, including those who do not identify as exclusively straight and/or folks who have non-binary or genderexpansive identities. This term was previously used as a slur, but has been reclaimed by many parts of the LGBTQ movement.

Sexual & Romantic Attraction

Sexual attraction is a spectrum. Some of us experience sexual attraction more than others. Those who experience sexual attraction of any kind are known as allosexual. On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who experience little to no sexual attraction. These people identify as aesexual. Less than 1% of the world’s population identify with aesexuality. Despite the common misconception, people who identify as aesexual or related identities, are just as capable of developing meaningful relations with others. There are many different branches of aesexuality. Here are some of the more common identities you may come across.

  • Asexual: An adjective used to describe people who do not experience sexual attraction.

  • Graysexual: An adjective used to describe people who experience some or little sexual attraction.

  • Demisexual: An adjective used to describe people who only experience sexual attraction to an individual after an emotional connection has been established.

Romantic attraction is also a spectrum. Much like sexual attraction, some experience romantic attraction differently than others. Those who experience romantic attraction are known as alloromantic. Those who experience little to no romantic attraction are known as aromantic.

  • Aromantic: An adjective used to describe people who do not experience romantic attraction.

  • Grayromantic: An adjective used to describe people who experience some or little romantic attraction.

  • Demiromantic: An adjective used to describe people who only experience romantic attraction to an individual after an emotional connection has been established.

Some individuals identify as both aesexual and aeromantic. Some identify as neither. Regardless of what identity people feel comfortable with, many of these individuals still desire connections with others. They are just as capable of having fulfilling relationships despite common misconceptions.

Gender Identity

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.

  • Cisgender: A term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.

  • 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. While many also identify as transgender, not all non-binary people do. Non-binary can also be used as an umbrella term encompassing identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer or gender-fluid.

  • Agender: Someone who doesn't identify as any particular gender.

  • Genderqueer: Genderqueer people typically reject notions of static categories of gender and embrace a fluidity of gender identity and often, though not always, sexual orientation. People who identify as "genderqueer" may see themselves as being both male and female, neither male nor female or as falling completely outside these categories.

  • Genderfluid: A person who does not identify with a single fixed gender or has a fluid or unfixed gender identity.

  • Intersex: Intersex people are born with a variety of differences in their sex traits and reproductive anatomy. There is a wide variety of difference among intersex variations, including differences in genitalia, chromosomes, gonads, internal sex organs, hormone production, hormone response, and/or secondary sex traits.

What is attraction and how do you know for sure?

At face value, the answer might seem obvious. It's having a crush on someone right? Feeling like you just want to hang out with them, talk with them, be more than friends, all that right? Though that is an element of attraction, the real answer is a lot more nuanced than people realize.

There are five different types of attraction. Sexual, romantic, sensual, platonic, and aesthetic. The first two are probably the most commonly associated with the word attraction.

  • Sexual: Attraction on the basis of sexual desire. Many of us have experienced this to some degree. We see a person we find attractive and feel a sexual desire toward them.

  • Romantic: Attraction based on the desire for romantic interactions or relationships with another person. Think of something along the lines of wanting to buy someone flowers, chocolates, and to shower them with affection.

  • Sensual: Attraction based on the idea of non-sexual physical contact. It is defined as a desire to cuddle, hug, and to be close to someone in a non-sexual way.

  • Platonic: Attraction defined by the desire to be friends with another person. It’s wanting to hang out, go out to eat, play games, and live life together in a platonic friend-like relationship.

  • Aesthetic: Attraction defined as attraction simply based on appearance. This is probably the most simple type of attraction. It is as simple as noticing that a person looks aesthetically pleasing. It can be as simple as noticing “That person is pretty.”

We often experience combinations of these types of attractions in our relationships with other people. We see this in both friendships and romantic relationships. With some people, we may experience all of these types of attractions at once. Sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint the specific type of attraction we may be feeling toward a person. This is part of what makes sorting through feelings for others difficult and confusing. Hopefully these five categories may help when it comes to determining how we feel about another person.

What is the difference between sex and gender?

Everyone has preferred pronouns and names. No one likes it when someone uses the wrong pronouns even if they’re cisgender. No one likes it when their coworker can’t remember their name, when they’ve been working together for over a year. Respect people by using the name and pronouns they introduce themselves with. It’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s not okay to go out of your way to use the wrong name or pronoun.

Here are some gender neutral ways to refer to others.

  • They/Them: You will likely hear this the most often depending on your social circles. They/ Them is a gender neutral way to refer to people in both the singular and plural. It is also not grammatically incorrect.

  • Ze/Zir: his is another common singular gender neutral pronoun. It is used in the same way that she/her or he/him would be used.

  • Mx: Pronounced like ‘Mix’ this is a gender neutral honorific that can be used in replace of Mr. Ms. or Mrs.

Lastly, just as it is polite to say your name when introducing yourself to someone, it’s polite to say your pronouns too. Even if you think your pronouns are obvious it’s similar to introducing your name when you are wearing a name tag.

What lead you to realize and accept that you're queer?

Rin R

My question to you is when did you realize that you’re straight? Your sexual orientation you sort of just know right? The thing is I knew I was queer and at the same time I didn’t know. I was in denial. Don’t Even Know I am Lying. I thought throughout my childhood, if I wasn’t a christian I would definetly be gay or if I wasn’t a christian then I would like to try being a boy, but I am a christian. So the only option is to be straight and cisgender right? I am no longer in denial that I am pansexual and gender-fluid. It took several years of struggling and being unsure of myself. I also thought that being queer meant that I had to walk away from my faith, but now I know this isn’t true.

Figuring out your sexual orientation and gender identity is something you have to come to yourself. No one can tell you that you’re wrong about yourself. You can also decide what labels to use or not to use and it's okay to change them.

Rachael D

It took me a long time to realize I wasn't straight. When I was younger, I constantly thought about how fun it would be to date women. I even thought if I wasn’t a christian, I would be a lesbian. I even thought about how God made women objectively more attractive than men. But before I found out I was bisexual, I found out I was demisexual, on the ace spectrum. I was wondering why so many people around me were sexually attracted to others or even interested in sex. I didn't feel this attraction in the same way others did. I felt like something was wrong with me. I found out about the term demisexual and thought everyone felt like that. Shortly after talking to others, I found that wasn't the case. I came to the conclusion that I was demisexual. I began looking more into my sexuality and found that many of the times I "just wanted to be her best friend," I was actually crushing on them. It took me 20 years to even realize I was bisexual. When the environment you grow up in pushes the idea that heterosexual is the only healthy form of sexuality, it can be really hard to find out who you are really attracted to. If you are questioning your sexuality, be patient with yourself. Take your time to see what labels you feel comfortable with or if you want to use labels at all.