LGBT Vocab 101 – How not to sound like a naive quidiot

I’m fairly new to the LGBTQ-mmunity having only found myself as a gay women in spring 2015. When I first started to identify as gay or lesbian I knew nothing, but more so than just not knowing how to be gay, I didn’t know how to speak gay or how to interact with people in the community. I heard many words I didn’t understand. I heard about many orientations, identities, and sexualities that were confusing to me. So I tried to educate myself with media, tv, movies, and educational websites.

I have learned a few things since then and to save you the embarrassment, and because we all need to start somewhere, here’s a vocab lesson for you. I can’t tell you what it means to be gay, bisexual, or lesbian. What I will try to do is de-shroud some terms that utterly confused me upon coming into this community.

Something I realized recently is that LGBT is no longer a complete acronym to represent this community. You have probably seen it represented in many ways LGBT, LGBTQ,  or LGBT+. The last one I’m convinced was created by someone like me who couldn’t follow the ever changing acronym.

Most recently at Haven Con, an LGBT and kink friendly home grown comic con based out of Austin TX, I learned that the LGBT community has started to merge with the kink community to form the biggest umbrella the world has seen.

So if you’re still following here’s the most complete and updated acronym I have found: LGBTQIAPK+ I added the + for good measure and to keep this article relevant.

+ (any additional identities or sexualities)

The most common blanket term heard to refer to the whole community is queer. Queer is anyone who is not heterosexual and/or cisgendered.



Identifying by the same gender you were born with, such as you were born a female and identify as a female/woman as opposed to someone who was born a woman and does not identify with that gender. For example someone who was born a female but identifies as male in their everyday life (these individuals are not necessarily trans).


An umbrella term encompassing all individuals that do not fit under the heterosexual or cisgender models. Most all LGTB+ individuals would also consider themselves queer.

The difference between bisexual and pansexual can be confusing and unclear, some argue that these 2 labels are the same, but most all pansexuals will say it’s a completely different identity. Pansexuals often consider themselves gender blind. Bisexuals are attracted to women and men. Pansexuals may be attracted to people who do not exist on the gender binary of women and men. For example their lovers could include transexuals, gender non-binary, gender fluid, two spirits, or androgynous folks. Pansexual does not does not mean you are attracted to anything including animals and children.

AceFlagNot being sexually attracted or aroused by others. Asexuality is very complex and little understood. Not all asexuals are abstinent. Some engage in sexual activities with their romantic partners for a variety of reasons even if they are not sexually motivated or inclined. Asexuals may also have a romantic identity such as aromantic or demi-romantic meaning even if they do not desire sex they may still be interested in a romantic relationship which ca include cuddling and closeness. Asexuals can be in relationships just like anyone else. Asexuals are not necessarily without a sex drive meaning they may still have a physical desire to have sex but not act on it due to not feeling sexual attraction. Asexuals may engage in masturbation to satisfy their sex drive.

Can include anyone with an abnormal chromosomes, hormones, or genitals that do not fit within the binary of male and female. Does not necessarily have to do with genitalia or existence of both penis and vagina. This can include transexual individuals who have chosen to change their sex but it also includes people born with a natural variance in their chromosomal pattern or genitalia. Intersex is not the same as gender fluid or gender non-binary. Intersex individuals have a physical difference whereas gender fluid or non-binary individuals do not necessarily have this.

An individual who does not identify within the gender binary of male/female or man/woman. They may identify as somewhere in-between, both male and female, or as neither. They do not feel the gender binary accurately represents them. They may have a combination of masculine ad feminine traits, features, or identify with both male and female genders depending on how they see themselves that day.

Gender fluid
Similar to gender non binary. It is someone who feels they are on a spectrum between feminine and masculine identities of woman and man. Their identity can fluctuate frequently depending on how they feel, what they are wearing, a role they are undertaking, or the relationship they are engaged in. These individuals may identify also as non-binary. The main difference between gender fluid and gender non-binary is a non-binary person may always identify in one way versus a gender fluid person’s identity is constantly in flux.

2000px-Transgender_Pride_flag.svgMale to female transexual, an individual who was born male but identifies and chooses to live as a female, they may or may not decide to modify their bodies through hormones and surgeries

Female to male transexual, an individual who was born female but identifies and chooses to live as a male, they may or may not decide to modify their bodies through hormones and surgeries

Kinsey scale
A sexuality spectrum scale used to assess individuals sexual preferences. Sexuality is a spectrum and most individuals are not 100% gay or straight but somewhere on the spectrum.


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