Ally: A term used to describe someone who does not identify as LGBTQ but who is supportive of LGBTQ individuals, often a family member or friend.

Bisexual: Sexual, emotional and romantic attraction to both men and women, though not necessarily at the same time.

Choice: A false assumption that people choose to be straight or gay.

Coming Out: Sharing one’s sexual orientation with others, an important step in self-acceptance and in achieving emotional, physical, and spiritual health as it removes a burden of secrecy. This is a lifelong process of self-acceptance. Publicly identifying themselves may or may not be part of coming out.

Conversion or Reparative Therapy: An attempt to convert a homosexual person to heterosexuality by religious or psychological counseling. Such therapies have been discredited by the American Medical Assoc. and the American Psychological Assoc. as unsuccessful and destructive.

Gay: The preferred term (rather than homosexual) for a man who feels sexual, emotional, or romantic attraction to other men. It’s also used as a general term for same-sex attraction, sometimes referring to both gay men and lesbians.

Gender Identity: A person’s inner sense of being male or female, which sometimes conflicts with one’s biological gender. This is about self-perception.

Gender Expression: External display of gender identity, usually through masculine, feminine, or gender-variant behavior and appearance. Typically transgender people seek to appear more like their gender identity than their birth-assigned sex.

Lesbian: The preferred term (rather than homosexual) for a woman who feels sexual, emotional, or romantic attraction to other women.

LGBTQI: Abbreviated term for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and intersex. Commonly used is LGBTQ.

Heterosexual: Sexual, emotional, and romantic attraction to members of the opposite sex.

Homophobia: Irrational fear, hatred or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.

Homosexual: Non-preferred term for sexual, emotional, and affectional attraction to members of one’s own sex.

Internalized Homophobia: A sense of shame and self-hatred about one’s own homosexuality, caused by social stigma or being taught that same-sex orientation is wrong. This is an acceptance of societal judgments that causes a person to dislike or resent their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Intersex: A person who is born with external genitalia, internal reproductive systems, or chromosomes which are not typically male or female.

Outing: Disclosing someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, sometimes based on rumor or speculation, without that person’s consent.

Queer: A term for those who feel outside societal norms of sexual or gender identity. The term queer may seem very negative or offensive, but it is a word being reclaimed by youth as indicating non-heterosexual without focusing on any specific alternative. It’s viewed as a flexible and inclusive alternative to LGBT and increasingly used by young LGBTQ people.

Questioning: A term used to describe those who are in a process of discovery and exploration about their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or a combination thereof.

Second Closet: A term for concealing the sexual orientation of a family member (i.e. being in the ‘second closet’.) This can be for negative reasons (fear, embarrassment, shame) or supportive reasons (a desire to protect from hostility, the child’s desire for privacy, etc.)

Sexual Orientation: Enduring emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction ranging along a continuum from homosexuality to heterosexuality. Most scientists agree that sexual orientation is the result of complex biological, genetic, and hormonal factors.

Transgender: Someone whose gender expression and/or gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth. It is an umbrella term describing a broad range of people who experience
and/or express their gender differently from what most people expect.