Defining, explaining key LGBT community terms

Ali Dade

October is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History month, so I felt that I should take some time to go into depth on some of the terms that are used regularly.

As the growing support of LGBT rights becomes more prevalent in American society, there are probably some community terms you’ve never heard of, or may be confused about.

An important thing to remember is that you, don’t have to identify as LGBT to be a member of the community. We always need allies on our side.

Romantic vs. Sexual Attraction

Repeat after me: Sexual attraction is not the same as romantic attraction.

A huge misconception is that if you are attracted to someone, it is automatically assumed that you want to have sex with them. One can absolutely be attracted to someone else romantically, and not want to have sex with them at all.

Example: A man could identify as bisexual and hetero-romantic, meaning he is sexually attracted to men and women, but only has romantic feelings for women.


Polyamory is the desire for or practice of intimate relationships (whether they be romantic or sexual) between multiple people. This means one or both people in the relationships may have more than one partner. Over the years, this term has received harsh scrutiny, as many people consider polyamory synonmous with infidelity. However, the key difference between cheating and polyamory is that in polyamorous relationships, all parties involved have knowledge of the situation and provide their consent. Some describe it as “consensual, ethical and responsible non-monogamy.”

Example: A polyamorous man and woman may consider each other their central relationship, yet both could still see other people so long as there is open and honest communication from all parties.

Another example would be if a woman were to maintain relationships with multiple partners without a central relationship to return home to. All partners would be aware of one another and consent to the relationships.

Gender Identities


Individuals whom identify as the gender they were born into. If one is born with a vagina and identify as female, or is born with a penis and identify as male, that individual is considered cisgender.


Individuals who identify as having no gender, or as being of neutral gender (not feeling as though they belong under either the male or female label).


An individual who considers themselves Genderfluid means their gender indentity often changes. One day they may feel more masculine, and another day more feminine.


Essentially the opposite of cisgender, a transgender individual is someone who was born as one gender, but identifies as another. The individual may or may not go so far as to get gender reassignment surgery to turn their original genitals into that of the other gender. If someone is transgender, they may use the acronym “FTM” or “MTF,” meaning they were born female and have transistioned to male, or were born male and have transistioned to female, respectively.

Preferred Pronouns

Someone who may identify as a different gender may prefer to be called by certain pronouns. Generally, the choices of pronouns would be: she/her, he/him, they/them. Another notable term to know is “Mx.” Which is to be used as a prefix alternative rather than “Miss” or “Mr.” If you are uncertain, do not be afraid to either simply use “them” to remain neutral, or ask the person for clarification.

The term “queer,” is a trickier topic. A lot of people still don’t feel comfortable saying it, because for so long it was used as hate speech against the gay community. In the recent decade, though, the LGBT community has been taking it back. I would not recommend calling someone “queer” unless they have specifically told you that it would be acceptable to use to describe them. This is also a term that is generally used inside the LGBT community, but you may get weird looks if you’re a straight person who throws the word around a lot.



An individual who experiences sexual attraction to the opposite gender.


An individual that feels little to no sexual attraction at all. Common misconceptions are that asexual individuals “haven’t found the right person”, or they “had a bad sexual experience.” In reality, an asexual individual may experience zero sexual arousal and meerly be interested in romantic relationships. Other asexual individuals may experience sexual arousal, but do not wish to have sex with other individuals.


An individual who experience sexual attraction towards both men and women. Inidividuals may prefer one over the other, but are open to either.


An indivisual who is attracted to all genders. This is the key difference between bisexuals and pansexuals.They feel attraction towards men, women, trans men and women, those who identify as genderfluid and so on. Basically, pansexuals have the capacity to feel attraction to anyone. However, this does not mean that pansexuals are automatically attracted to everyone that they come into contact with. They still have personal preferences and the right to choose whom their partners are.


An inidividual that can only feel sexual attraction towards someone after they have formed an emotional or romantic connection with them first. This does not mean that they are “putting you in the friendzone” or “are too picky.” It means that they have to feel very close to someone in order to want to have sex with them. Demisexual relationships are often long-time friendships that blossom into romantic relationships.

Example: A woman could identify as demi-homosexual, (demisexual and homosexual). She would be sexually attracted to women, but only if she first had formed an emotional bond with them.


An individual that has the capacity to feel sexual attraction towards others, but rarely actually does. This does not mean that they are “confused asexuals.” They merely experience sexual attraction less often than most. This, like demisexuality, can be combined with other sexualities.

Example: A woman could identify as grey-heterosexual (greysexual and heterosexual). This means that she rarely feels sexual attraction to someone, but when and if she does, it only occurs towards men.

Hopefully this has informed you how beautifully diverse the LGBT community is.