The dialogue in the Queer community is full of rich, colorful words, phrases, identifiers, and terms unique to Queer lifestyle. To help you navigate these conversations and to know when to use certain words over others, BALTIGQ+ provides you a list of common terms and their definitions. If you have any questions, a word that we should include on this list, or a better definition for one of them, shoot us an email via or through the messenger on the about page! Thanks! <3
It is very important to respect people’s desired self-identifications. One should never assume another person’s identity based on that person’s appearance. It is always best to ask people how they identify, including what pronouns they prefer, and to respect their wishes.For a list of words that you should avoid using to describe Queer people, click here.
*** These definitions have been sourced from creditable sources including: advocate.com,
teenhealthsource.com, stop-homophobia.com, abc.net, gender.wikia.com and wiki.asexuality.org
Ally - Typically any non-LGBTQ+ person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, though LGBTQ+ people can be allies, for example: a lesbian who is an ally to a transgender person.
Asexual - Asexual people experience no or little sexual attraction. Asexual individuals can, however, feel a romantic and emotional attraction to someone. Many (but not all) asexual people can experience arousal, but it is not directed at anyone in particular. They can still engage in sexual activity and go on to have successful and meaningful relationships while not feeling sexual attraction to their partner.
Bisexual - Someone who feel attractions to those of both male and female-identifying individuals. Just because a man has only had relationships with women does not negate the attraction he may have to other men. They are not 50% gay and 50% straight; they are bisexual.
Coming Out - The process of acknowledging one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity to other people. For most LGBT people this is a life-long process. Short for "coming out of the closet" where being 'in the closet' is the act of not disclosing one's sexuality to others.
Cisgender - "Cis" , This is a term used to describe people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, for example, a person born with male genitals who identifies as a man is cisgender. Almost all public figures, advertising and mainstream media content represents the cisgender population.
Drag Queen - "Queen" , A drag queen is a person, usually a man, who dresses, and usually acts, like a woman often for the purpose of entertaining or performing. There are many kinds of drag artists and they vary greatly from hobbyists to professionals. Although many drag queens are presumed to be gay men or transgender individuals, there are drag artists of all genders and sexualities who do drag for many reasons.
Demisexual - A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a emotional connection. It's more commonly seen in, but by no means confined, to romantic relationships. The term demisexual comes from the orientation being "halfway between" sexual and asexual. Nevertheless, this term does not mean that demisexuals have an incomplete or half-sexuality, nor does it mean that sexual attraction without emotional connection is required for a complete sexuality.
Homosexual - A person who is attracted to other people of the same gender.
Gay - A male who is attracted to other male-identifying individuals.
Lesbian - A female who is attracted to other female-identifying individuals.
Gender Expression - A term which refers to the ways in which we each manifest masculinity or femininity. It is usually an extension of our “gender identity,” our innate sense of being male, female, or neither. Each of us expresses a particular gender every day – by the way we style our hair, select our clothing, or even the way we stand. Our appearance, speech, behavior, movement, and other factors signal that we feel – and wish to be understood – as masculine, feminine, non-binary, etc.
Gender Identity - The sense of “being” cisgender, transgender, genderqueer, etc. For some people, gender identity is in accord with physical anatomy. For transgender people, gender identity may differ from physical anatomy or expected social roles. It is important to note that gender identity, biological sex, and sexual orientation are separate and that you cannot assume how someone identifies in one category based on how they identify in another category.
GenderQueer/Non-Binary - Many gender identities exist outside of masculine and feminine. Sex refers to a person's biological characteristics, while gender is a person's identity (who they feel they are inside) and the mix of those things can mean a person may identify as male, female, both or neither. The spectrum of gender fluidity includes people who identify as transgender, genderfluid, intersex, gender-questioning and genderqueer people. People who identify as genderfluid live between, above, behind, around gender. Some genderfluid people feel very masculine on some days, and feminine on others, while some live free from definition entirely.
Heterosexual - The attraction to a gender different from their own (commonly used to describe someone who is gender binary [female or male] attracted to the other binary gender).
Intersex - Intersex people have genital, chromosomal or other physical characteristics that don't fall into what is typically labelled as male or female. As intersex refers to biology, it does not describe a person's sexual or gender orientation. Some intersex individuals may prefer to be described as a 'person with an intersex variation' or be identified by their specific variation."
Pansexual - A person who experiences sexual, romantic and/or physical attraction to people of all gender/sexual identities or expressions. Pansexuality is different from Bisexuality because Bisexuality is limited to the gender binary.
Sexual Orientation/Sexuality- The type of sexual, romantic, and/or physical attraction someone feels toward others. Often labeled based on the gender identity/expression of the person and who they are attracted to i.e. lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, etc.
Transgender - "Trans", Transgender people are people whose gender identities are different to the gender they were assigned at birth. In our medical system, most babies born are categorized as male or female based on their physical characteristics (genitals, hormones, etc.). For many people, however, the gender they were assigned is not the identity that actually exists within them - though they are not "broken", "mismatched" or strange. The term "transition" can describe a process that transgender people undergo in order to live their lives more fully as themselves. Transition does not necessarily have an end point, and there are many reasons why transgender people choose to include hormones or surgical procedures in the process, or not choose those things.
Queer - An inclusive term for people who are non-heterosexual – includes the spectrum of LGBTQ+ community. For many LGBTQ+ people, the term 'queer' has negative connotations, however, more and LGBTQ+ individuals are reclaiming it as a symbol of pride. It is sometimes recommended that non-LGBTQ+ people do not use this term.
Questioning: For some, the process of exploring and discovering one's own sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Words to Avoid
Unfortunately, many people today are unaware that the vernacular they choose to describe others can be derogatory, hurtful, and even tramatic to Queer-identifying individuals. These words and phrases have since become outdated and should never be used to describe another person. Please feel free to email us if there are more terms you feel are sensitive to members of the LGBTQ+ community and we will review and add them. We publish this list and the one above as educational tools, please use them accordingly.