sexual orientation a person’s emotional, physical, and/or sexual attraction and the expression of that attraction. Most people become aware of their sexual orientation during adolescence.
heterosexual a person who is emotionally, physically, and /or sexually attracted or committed to members of the other sex.
homosexual a person who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted or committed to members of the same sex.
gender identity - A person’s sense of being masculine, feminine, in-between or androgynous. It is important to recognize that this is independent from a person’s biological sex.
gender identity vs. sexual orientation - Gender identity is distinct from sexual orientation. Gender identity, the sense that one is a boy or a girl, is usually manifested by the age of 3 or 4 years. Sexual orientation, the sense of which gender one is emotionally, physically and/or sexually attracted to, does not manifest itself until much later in life, usually after puberty and often not until full adulthood.
LGBTQIA an abbreviation for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, intersexed, and allies. While not exhaustive, this abbreviation is often used to represent the community as a whole. The Q can also refer to those who are questioning their sexual or gender orientation.
gay a common and acceptable term for a male homosexual, this includes those who identify as male and are emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to or committed to others who identify as male. Not to be confused with men who have sex with men*.
lesbian a common and acceptable term for a female homosexual, including those who identify as women and are emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to or committed to others who identify as female. Not to be confused with women who have sex with women*
bisexual—a common and acceptable term for a person who may be emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted or committed to members of both the male and female sexes.
transgender a broad term for all gender variant people, including transsexuals, transvestites, drag kings, drag queens, and intersexed people, and is meant to include anyone who does not identify with the traditional roles of male/female that are imposed by biological sex.
queer a historically negative term meaning homosexual; which members of the “queer” community have reclaimed, the term has a positive and/or political connotation.
intersexed a person born with mixed sexual physiology.
ally a member of the dominant majority, in this case heterosexual, culture who works to end oppression in his/her professional and personal life through support of, and as an advocate for the oppressed population, in this case GLBTQI people.
homophobia the irrational fear of homosexuals, homosexuality, or any behavior, belief, or attitude of self or others, which doesn’t conform to rigid sex-role stereotypes. It is the fear that enforces and is enforced by sexism and heterosexism. The extreme behavior of homophobia is violence against homosexuals. It can occur anywhere- on personal, social, institutional, and societal levels.
heterosexism the assumption that all people are or should be heterosexual. Heterosexism excludes the needs, concerns, and life experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people while it gives advantages to heterosexual people. It is often a subtle form of oppression which reinforces realities of silence and invisibility for gays and lesbians.
*The terms gay and lesbian refer to socially constructed identities which may or may not be applicable in a new cultural context. There are many cultures in the world that do not equate a social identity to same sex sexual behavior.