LGBTQ orientation glossary

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This is a glossary of concepts relating to sexual orientations under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella. This glossary is mainly devoted to the L, G and B; for terms relating to other parts of the acronym, see transgender glossary

Basic orientations[edit]

Androphilic; androsexual[edit]

Terms for anyone who is attracted exclusively to men. This term encompasses straight women, gay men, viramoric nonbinary people etc.[1][2] Coined in order to express sexual orientation in a manner that does not reference one's own gender.[3] (Ancient Greek: ándras=man; philía=love)


See the main article on this topic: Asexuality

Not sexually attracted to anyone.[3][4][5][6][7] Includes a spectrum that contains degrees of romantic attraction and sexual attraction (such as being sexually attracted only in a romantic relationship). It is part of A-spec.


See the main article on this topic: Aromantic

Not romantically attracted to anyone.[3][6] Includes a spectrum that contains degrees of romantic and sexual attractions (such as only being able to have romantic attraction towards people they don't have an emotional connection to). It is part of A-spec.


See the main article on this topic: Bisexuality

Attracted to those from any of at least two given genders.[8][9][10][6]  


See the main article on this topic: Gay

A term either for anyone who is homosexual, or for homosexual men specifically.[3][11][9][5][10][6] May also be used for homoromantic people who are on the asexual spectrum.


See the main article on this topic: Heterosexuality

Sexually attracted exclusively to those of a gender other than one's own (usually the opposite binary gender).[12][9][5][6]


See the main article on this topic: Homosexuality

Sexually attracted exclusively to those of the same gender as oneself.[5] This is generally not a preferred term as it has been used to pathologize same-sex attraction in the past.[6]


See the main article on this topic: Lesbianism

A term for homosexual women.[9][5][10][6] Named for the island of LesbosWikipedia in the Aegean SeaWikipedia.


See the main article on this topic: Pansexuality

Attracted to those of any gender or regardless of gender.[3][9][5][10][6]


See the main article on this topic: Queer

An all-inclusive term for people who are not cishet. May be used as a self-identifier as an alternative to the more specific labels.[3][5][10][6] A reclaimed slur from before the 1980s.


In the process of discovering and assessing one's own gender or sexual orientation.[9][5][6] May be used as a (usually temporary) identity.

Same-gender loving[edit]

A term used by African Americans to describe individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. Coined by Cleo Manago for African-American use, as an alternative to traditional LGBT labels.[3][9][10][10][6]


An umbrella term for women who are attracted to women (exclusively or otherwise). This term encompasses lesbians as well as bisexual and pansexual women etc.[7] A synonym for WLW. Named for the Ancient Greek poet Sappho.


A synonym for heterosexual.[5] May also be used for heteroromantic people who are on the asexual spectrum.

Sexual orientation[edit]

The direction of one's sexual attraction, classified by how, and to whom, one is attracted.[9][5][6]

Terms relating to discrimination[edit]

Asexual exclusion[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Asexual exclusionism

An ideology within a small subset of the LGBT community & allies that seeks to (you guessed it,) exclude asexual people from queer spaces. It can be as civil as labelling them as "straight allies" or uncivil by accusing them of being incels, MGTOWers or invaders at best.


Discrimination against and aversion to bisexual people.[5]

Bisexual erasure[edit]

The marginalization of bisexual people either by passive exclusion from popular culture and media or by actively denying the reality of bisexuality.[5]

Compulsory sexuality[edit]

The idea that people in relationships must engage in sexual activity with each other.[10]  

Gay bashing[edit]

Attacks or abuse directed at someone who is, or is perceived to be, LGBT.[13]

Gay and trans panic defense[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Gay panic

A legal defense whereby a victim's LGBT status can be used to justify violence against them, usually with the claim that they made romantic or sexual advances on the defendant.[14]


The assumption that heterosexuality is the default and proper sexual orientation, with LGBT orientations being perceived as "lesser than" or outright ignored.[9][10][2]


Institutionalized bias in favour of heterosexuality and opposite-sex relationships, to the exclusion of LGBT people and same-sex relationships.[9][5][10][7]

Heterosexual privilege[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Privilege

The unearned benefits enjoyed by heterosexual people and not by LGBTQ people in society, solely on the basis of their sexual orientation.[15]


The assumption that heteronormative ideals and structures should be emulated within LGBT culture and same-sex relationships.[16] Related to respectability politics. Contrary to what one would first expect, this term is not the opposite of heteronormativity.


See the main article on this topic: Homophobia

Aversion toward and discrimination against homosexual people, or LGBTQ people in general.[9][5][10]


Aversion to and discrimination against lesbians.[5]


Institutionalized bias in favour of monosexuality, involving the assumption that everyone is or should be either exclusively straight or exclusively gay, to the exclusion of those who are attracted to more than one gender (bisexuals, pansexuals etc.)[3][9] Related to biphobia.


The act of disclosing another person's LGBT identity to others against their will or without permission.[9][5][7][15] This is invariably a very harmful thing to do (unless of course one is outing oneself).

Pick Me Gay[edit]

A gay person, usually white, cis, and mostly heteronormative, who sides with queerphobia in order to be thought "respectable" and thus exempted from that queerphobia (maybe, partly, temporarily). This descriptor is a reference to a kid wanting to be selected for a sports team (essentially a primary school popularity contest) over their peers, waving their arm and yelling "Ooh, ooh! Pick me! Pick me!" Possibly also derived from the term "pick-me girl".Wiktionary See: respectability politics and internalized discrimination.


The act by a heterosexual person of explaining LGBTQ issues to an LGBTQ individual in a condescending manner that assumes superior knowledge.[17]


The portrayal of real or fictional LGBT figures as being straight; a manifestation of heteronormativity.[18]

Emerging or neologistic orientation identities[edit]


The opposite of asexual; experiencing a typical level of sexual attraction to others.[19] (Ancient Greek: állos=other)


Generally monosexual, but curious about or open to experimenting sexually with people of a gender to which one is not primarily attracted. In practice, this word is generally used as a synonym for heteroflexible.[20]

BlaQ; BlaQeer[edit]

A term for African Americans with an LGBTQ identity, which they see as attached to their Black identity.[9] More commonly known as a skincare product.[21]


A broad umbrella term for any relationship, attraction, or orientation that cannot be labelled as gay or straight due to involving at least one nonbinary person (or nonbinary people in general). (Ancient Greek and Latin: dís=two; amor=love)[22][23]


A term for nonbinary people who are attracted to other nonbinary people. A synonym for NBLNB.[24][23]


Primarily heterosexual, but open to engaging in same-sex encounters.[3][5][5] This label might be used by those who sit at around a 1 on the Kinsey scale.


Primarily homosexual, but open to engaging in opposite-sex encounters.[3][5] This label might be used by those who sit at around a 5 on the Kinsey scale.

LGBT slang and colloquialisms[edit]


A generally large, hairy and masculine gay man. This term is used both as a personal identity and as the basis for bear subculture.[25]


An opposite-sex partner maintained by a homosexual person in order to give the impression of being heterosexual; generally a woman who is with a gay man.


A (generally playful) derogatory term for a heterosexual person.


An individual of any sexual identity who has a masculine personality or expression (antonym of femme).[3][10][7] Has sometimes been used as a derogatory term for lesbians, but has also been reclaimed as an identity.[2]

Down low[edit]

Usually used in the phrase "on the down-low"; a term originating in communities of color to describe men who identify as heterosexual but who have sex with other men in secret (i.e., closet).[25][2]


Either a lesbian, or an individual of any sexual identity who has a feminine identity, presentation or expression (antonym of butch).[9][3][5][10][25] 

Friend of Dorothy[edit]

Judy Garland as Dorothy

Either a gay man or, more broadly, any LGBTQ person. Originates from either Dorothy Parker or the character Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Hilariously the use of this term led to the US Naval Investigative Service conducting a search for a mysterious Dorothy, believing her to be the leader of a large group of homosexuals in the military.[26]


See the main article on this topic: Gaydar

The capacity to intuit whether or not other people are gay.

Hairpin drop / Dropping a hairpin[edit]

Giving hints of one's homosexuality. The Stonewall riots have been referred to as "the hairpin drop heard around the world".[27]

Lipstick lesbian[edit]

A lesbian with very traditionally feminine presentation and interests (i.e., femme).[25]

Lesbian until graduation[edit]

Also known as LUG for short; a woman who experiments with same-sex encounters in college.

Playing for the other team / playing for both teams[edit]

Homosexual / bisexual, respectively.


A (usually feminine and flamboyant) gay man. This term was a slur in the 1970s but has been largely reclaimed. 'Closet queen' is still a slur because of the closet part.


A transgender lesbian.[28]


A generally slim, hairless and young gay guy in his teens or early 20s.[25]

Slurs and outdated concepts[edit]


A slur for someone who has atypical sexual interests.[29] Has been used to illegitimately conflate homosexuality with paraphilias. 


A partially-reclaimed slur for a (usually masculine-presenting) lesbian.[30] Is sometimes used as a self-identifier,[2][31] but should generally only be used by those within the lesbian community.[25] 

Fag; faggot[edit]

A slur referring to a gay man.[32][33][2]

Fag hag / fag stag[edit]

A (partially reclaimed) slur for a woman / straight man, respectively, who associates or socializes primarily with gay men.[34]  


A slur referring to a gay man.[35][25] a term partly-reclaimed by the Radical Faeries.Wikipedia

Fruit; fruitcake[edit]

A (partially reclaimed) slur referring to a gay man.[36]

Homosexual agenda[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Homosexual agenda

A homophobic snarl word alleging that the LGBT rights movement has an agenda to infiltrate every aspect of American culture and displace family values.[37]


An archaic term for homosexual, used in the 1950s and earlier.[38]

Lavender marriage[edit]

A marriage between a man and a woman, one or both of whom are homosexual, in order to preserve a heteronormative public image.[39] The term dates from the early-20th century, long before same-sex marriage was legalized. 


The precursor to LGBT, before transgender was added to the acronym.[40] Is now used in an exclusionary way by TERFs and other transphobes, with one example being the LGB Alliance


A term referring to male attraction to adolescent boys, or the bygone institutions that supported this, in cultures such as that of Ancient Greece.[41] 

Rug Muncher[edit]

A (mostly reclaimed) slur referring to a lesbian

Sexual inversion[edit]

An term used by 19th and early-20th century sexologists, based on the idea that same-sex attraction represented an inversion of normative gender roles.[42]


A sissy is the submissive party in "sissification", which is when a (typically cisgender) man wears stereotypically feminine or "slutty" clothing and is sexually humiliated. It doesn't have anything to do with sexual orientation or gender identity, but is has been (and still is) used as a derogatory term for gay men (and transgender women).


See the main article on this topic: Sodomy

An outdated and offensive term referring either generally to any non-procreative sexual activity, or specifically to anal sex. Named for the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah

Sodomy law[edit]

A law that ostensibly criminalized certain types of sex act, but in practice, has historically been used to target homosexuals and not heterosexuals.


A slur denoting a gay man with feminine interests and behaviour.

Other relevant concepts[edit]


An aesthetic or style that is theatrical and flamboyant, and does not take itself seriously. Has historically been associated with gay culture.


See the main article on this topic: Closet

Not open about one's sexual orientation or gender identity.[10]

Coming out[edit]

The act of disclosing one's LGBT identity to another person or people.[9][5][10][7][25] Also known as "coming out of the closet", and not to be confused with outing.

Gay-friendly; LGBT-friendly[edit]

Welcoming, accomodating and supportive to LGBT people and their orientations and relationships.

Kinsey scale[edit]

A scale developed in the 1940s to rate a person's sexual orientation, which could range from 0 (completely heterosexual) to 6 (completely homosexual), with an additional value of X (asexual).[25] Created by Alfred Kinsey, an American biologist, professor and sexologist from the first half of the 20th century.

Lesbian feminism[edit]

A current of feminism that involves using one's lesbian identity as a basis for building community and undertaking advocacy both for women and for LGBT rights.[5]  

Mixed-orientation marriage[edit]

A marriage between two people who are of different sexual orientations.

Multi-attraction spectrum[edit]

An umbrella category of sexual orientations involving attraction to more than one gender; includes bisexual, polysexual, pansexual etc. Also known as M-spec for short.


The act of exploiting LGBTQ issues to improve one's public image, often as a way to increase financial success (e.g., via advertising) or to draw attention away from one's other discriminatory or unsavoury stances or behaviour. A neologism based on the term "whitewashing". Has also been referred to as "rainbow capitalism".


Loving, or being in a relationship with, more than one person simultaneously; the term can also describe such a relationship. Opposed to the terms monoamorous (being in love with only one person) and nonamorous (not being in love with anybody).


The act, by producers of fictional media and entertainment, of hinting at LGBTQ representation but without explicitly enacting it.

Romantic orientation[edit]

A romantic counterpart to sexual orientation, denoting the demographic to which one is romantically attracted; generally mentioned when this differs from the demographic to which one is sexually attracted (e.g. for asexuals).[10] Romantic orientations may be indicated by replacing "-sexual" with "-romantic" in sexual orientation labels, to create words such as heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic and aromantic.

Same-sex marriage[edit]

See the main article on this topic: same-sex marriage

Marriage between two people of the same sex. Not necessarily a "gay marriage", as it does not require that both parties are strictly homosexual.

Sexual fluidity[edit]

Characterizing a sexual orientation that involves changes over time of how, and to whom, one is attracted.[3]


Not displaying any of the mannerisms or behaviour that are stereotypically associated with one's LGBT identity.

Straight ally[edit]

A heterosexual person who works to support LGBT causes.


See the main article on this topic: Transgender
For more information, see: Transgender glossary

An umbrella term for anyone who identifies as a gender other than the one assigned at birth.

See also[edit]


  1. Schmidt, J. Migrating Genders: Westernisation, Migration, and Samoan Fa'afafine. Ashgate Publishing 2010, p. 45.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Killermann, Sam. Comprehensive* List of LGBTQ+ Vocabulary Definitions. It's Pronounced Metrosexual.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 LGBTQIA+ Terminology. Forthcoming in Beemyn, Genny. Campus Queer: The Experiences and Needs of LGBTQ+ College Students. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  4. Pacho, Agata. "Cake is Better than Sex", in: Sex in the Digital Age, ed. Nixon, Paul G. and Isabel K. Düsterhöft. Routledge, August 2017.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 LGBTQ Glossary. LGBTQ Commission, County of San Matteo.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 LGBTQ Plus Glossary. Office for Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, University of California, Davis.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 LGBTQ Terminology. The LGBTQ+ Project, Louisiana State University.
  8. Sexual orientation, homosexuality and bisexuality. American Psychological Association.
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 9.15 Glossary of LGBTQ terms. The Office of Intercultural Engagement, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 10.14 10.15 Glossary". Lavender Greens of the U. S. Green Party.
  11. Harper, Douglas. Gay. Online Etymology dictionary, 2001–2013.
  12. Sexual orientation, homosexuality and bisexuality. American Psychological Association, August 10, 2013.
  13. Nardi, Peter M. and Ralph Bolton. Chapter 9 Gay-Bashing: Violence and Aggression Against Gay Men and Lesbians. Advances in Psychology 76 (1991), pp. 349-400.
  14. The Gay/Trans Panic Defense: What It is, and How to End It. American Bar Association, March 31, 2020.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Dastagir, Alia E. LGBTQ definitions every good ally should know. USA Today, June 15, 2017.
  16. Halperin, David M. How to be gay, 2012, p. 441.
  17. Osenlund, R. Kurt. When well-meaning sentiments are actually straightsplaining in disguise., September 12, 2014.
  18. Smith, Lydia. What is straightwashing? When Hollywood erases gay characters from films. PinkNews, April 20, 2018.
  19. Allosexual. LGBTA Wiki.
  20. Smith, Erika W. What Does It Mean To Be “Bi-Curious”?. Refinery29, August 20, 2019.
  21. [1]
  22. Mardell, Ashley. The ABC's of LGBT+. Mango Media Inc., November 2016.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Loki. Labels to describe the attraction of non-binary people. Amino Apps, January 7, 2019.
  24. Lazzaro, Sage. The 13 Biggest Memes of 2016, According to Tumblr. The Observer, May 12, 2016.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 25.5 25.6 25.7 25.8 Terminology. LGBTQ Center, Montclair State University.
  26. Shilts, Randy (1993). Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 387. ISBN 0-312-34264-0. 
  27. ""Hairpin Drop Heard Around the World"". 
  28. Transbian. Gender Wiki.
  29. Eribon, Didier. Insult and the Making of the Gay Self, p. 357.
  30. Askew, Emily and O. Wesley Allen. Beyond Heterosexism in the Pulpit.
  31. See the Wikipedia article on Dykes on Bikes.
  32. fag. Lexico Dictionaries.
  33. faggot. Lexico Dictionaries.
  34. Crimmins, Cathy. How the Homosexuals Saved Civilization: The Time and Heroic Story of How Gay Men Shaped the Modern World.
  35. Slide, Anthony. Gay's the Word: Being a Brief History of the Secret Language of Homosexuality,
  36. Coleman, Julie. Love, Sex, and Marriage: A Historical Thesaurus, p. 248.
  37. Hate Group: 'Homosexual Activists' Try To 'Confuse Children' To 'Build Their Numbers'. Think Progress, July 9, 2012.
  38. Whisnant, Clayton. Male Homosexuality in West Germany - Between Persecution and Freedom, 1945-69.Palgrave Macmillan.
  39. Summers, Claude J. The Queer Encyclopedia of Film & Television. Cleis Press, 2005, p. 132.
  40. Bohan, Janis S. Psychology and Sexual Orientation: Coming to Terms, Routledge 1996.
  41. Oxford English Dictionary, "pederasty".
  42. Ellis, Havelock. Studies in the Psychology of Sex Volume II: Sexual Inversion, 3rd ed. Project Gutenberg, 1927.