top of page

Understanding LGBTQ Lingo

June was PRIDE month and as many hit the streets to celebrate during this summer month, many still lack knowledge on understanding people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ).

“Understanding the diverse identities is so important,” said Lou Weaver, transgender programs coordinator with Equality Texas, a statewide political advocacy organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights. Learning how to lead with respect when it comes to understanding pronouns and slang terminology, is what will keep us united as a people.

“It shows respect for other humans to use the language they are comfortable with. You don’t need to understand – or even agree with – their actions, but respecting their decisions is essential.”

While deep-rooted religious beliefs can hamper tolerance of LGBTQ issues, acceptance is increasing in communities of faith. Though data from the institute shows African-Americans overall still lag in support of the LGBTQ community, acceptance is on the rise. Weaver acknowledged that understanding can prove challenging, especially when many equate LGBTQ to an individual’s sexual orientation.

“A lot of people don’t understand that it’s not about sex with us,” said Weaver, a transgender male. “Gender identity is who I go to bed as– in my case, a transgender male. My sexual orientation is who I want to go to bed with.”

A survey from the J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group found that young Americans are far more open-minded and permissive than their older millennial counterparts when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality.

LGBTQ advocates urge people to move past the ideology of what a “normal” relationship is supposed to look like to better understand the changing landscape. In fact, a host of other categories have been added, broadening the scope of how people identify themselves. In addition to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, there’s also pansexual, gender fluid, binary, non-binary, asexual and intersex.


“It’s important to learn the language in order to join the discussion – the LGBTQ community has a long and sordid history of people using language against them. Whether you’re queer yourself or just want to be a better ally, it’s crucial to get your terminology straight,” said Simone Waters, who identifies as pansexual (attraction based on emotions).

We’re just not monolithic anymore,” she said. “There are many of us whose emotional attraction is more important than sexual attraction. That’s me. I don’t care about the sex part or what they identify as. If you like me, I can like you. It’s not that complicated. Everyone wants to make it about sex and it’s not.”

Waters said taking the time to understand can help stop jaded mindsets and hurtful questions.

There are a number of commonly used words in the LGBTQIA+ community. Over time, language and terminology may shift but Waters says it’s important to understand the terms people use to identify.

Agender – A person without gender. An agender individual’s body does not necessarily correspond with their lack of gender identity. Often, agender individuals are not concerned with their physical sex, but some may seek to look androgynous.

Ally – A person who supports and respects sexual diversity, acts accordingly to challenge homophobic and heterosexist remarks and behaviors, and is willing to explore and understand these forms of bias within themselves.

Asexual – Someone who does not experience sexual attraction toward others, and who identifies as asexual. May or may not experience romantic, emotional, or physical attractions to other people.

Bicurious – An individual who identifies as gay or straight while showing some curiosity for a relationship or sexual activity with a person of the sex they do not favor.

Bisexual – A person who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, or relationally attracted to both men and women.

Cisgender – A person who feels as if their biological sex matches their gender identity.

Demiromantic – A person who does not experience a romantic attraction unless they have formed a strong emotional bond.

Fluid – A sexual or gender identity that exists beyond a binary system of either gay or straight, man or woman.

Gender Identity – How one perceives oneself – as a man, a woman, or otherwise.

Lesbian – A woman who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, or relationally attracted to other women, or someone who identifies as a member of the lesbian community.

LGBTQ – A common abbreviation for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning community.

Omnisexual – A person who is sexually attracted to all sexes/genders. Similar to bisexual, except omnisexual’s attractions are not constrained by the gender binary.

Pansexual – A person who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, or relationally attracted to people regardless of their gender identity or biological sex.

Pronouns – One class of words that an individual would like others to use when talking to or about that individual (for example: he/him/his, she/her/hers, or ze/hir/hirs).

Queer – Term describing people who have a non-normative gender identity, sexual orientation, or sexual anatomy—includes lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, and transgender people and allies.

Same-Gender Loving (SGL) – A term used by some African-American individuals to describe their sexual orientation, as a result of the perception that “gay” and “lesbian” are primarily white terms. “Same-sex loving” is also in use.

Sapiosexual – A person who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, or relationally attracted to intelligence and its use.

Transgender – An umbrella term for those individuals whose gender identity does not match with that assigned for their physical sex.

Transsexual – A term that is specific to trans people who have transitioned their sex through hormones and/or surgery.

Ze/Hir – A gender-neutral pronoun used by some transgender individuals (Pronounced Zee) in lieu of he or she.

ReShonda Tate – I’m a Houstonian (by way of Smackover, Arkansas). My most important job is being a wife to my amazing husband, mother to my three children, and daughter to my loving mother. I am the National Bestselling and NAACP Image Award-winning author of more than 50 books, some of which have been made into TV movies (I had brief appearances in two of them). I am a former TV news anchor and reporter who has worked in Houston, Oklahoma City, and Beaumont. I also work as a ghostwriter, literary editor and consultant, and screenwriter. The first film I penned will be released this winter. FUN FACT: I wanted to be a rapper back in high school (I’m an award-winning poet). My mom shut that dream down.


bottom of page