The term “queer” is an umbrella term for people who do not identify as heterosexual and/or cisgender. It can also be a term used to challenge society’s binary notions of sexual identity (straight vs gay) and gender identity (man vs woman).
Like so many other contemporary identifiers associated with minorities and marginalized groups (such as the pink triangle), the term “queer” was originally used in a derogatory manner for about 200 hundred years. It wasn’t until the 21st Century that queer folks began to embrace the term “queer” and reclaim it as a source of pride.
A rather large umbrella term, queer is multilayered with endless possibilities to describe the queer identities, emotions, and experiences it serves to unite. Some terms include bisexual, cisgender, demisexual, gender, lesbian, sexual orientation, and transgender, among many others.
This month we will introduce you to 28 queer terms that you should know. Because some of the definitions are complicated and not always easy to understand, No Stunts Magazine has decided to launch a new column that explores queer terms in greater detail every month. This month we provide definitions to basic queer terms you should know, but starting next month we will take one or more terms and write an article about it to give a more in-depth explanation of the term(s) along with examples in popular culture to help us understand the queer term(s) better.
Want to be a part of the conversation? DM us and let us know what terms you want us to write about in next month’s issue. Or just DM us if you want to talk about anything you see below. We’re always here to listen and converse with our readers!
1. Ace: An umbrella term to describe a person and their experiences of romantic and/or sexual attraction, which may range from none to occasional to contextually varying. Folks who identify as ace may also describe the direction of their emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction by also identifying as gay, bi, lesbian, queer, and straight. Ex: an Ace Lesbian or an Ace Bisexual Man
Note: This term may also include folks who identify as asexual, demisexual, and/or gray-sexual.
2. Aromantic: A person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in a romantic relationship. They may or may not experience emotional and/or sexual attractions. Folks who identify as aromantic may also describe the direction of their romantic attraction by also identifying as gay, bi, lesbian, queer, and straight. Ex: an Aromantic Lesbian or a Aromantic Bisexual Man
3. Ally: A non-LGBTQI+ person (typically straight and/or cisgendered) who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, and LGBTQI+ social movements.
Also an LGBTQI+ person who supports other identities within the community. Ex: a gay man can be an ally to the lesbian community.
4. Asexual: A person experiences little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships. They may or may not experience an emotional and/or romantic attraction. Folks who identify as asexual may also describe the direction of their sexual attraction by also identifying as gay, bi, lesbian, queer, and straight. Ex: an Asexual Lesbian or an Asexual Bisexual Man
5. Bisexual: A person who experiences emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to more than one sex, gender, or gender identity. This term refers to an attraction to two (or more) genders on the spectrum. Exs: a bisexual person may be attracted to men and women; a bisexual person may be attracted to women and non-binary folks; a bisexual person may be attracted to men and transwomen. See pansexual for more information on being attracted to more than two genders.
6. Cisgender: A person whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth. Also called not transgender or non-trans. Ex: a person whose gender identity as a woman matches the sex they were assigned at birth (a female).
7. Closeted: A person who is not open to themselves and/or others about their sexual orientation or gender identity. This closeting may be self-inflicted or forced upon by others for political, financial, emotional, legal, and/or religious reasons. This term is not synonymous with internalized homophobia.
8. Dead Name: The legal birth name of a transgender person who has changed their name (socially and/or legally) as part of their gender transition. Ex: Elliot Page’s dead name is Ellen Page, a name he no longer wishes to be referred to or addressed as. Google removed all past references of Elliot’s dead name and re-published all accessible material using his preferred name and pronouns on the date that he came out.
9. Demisexual: An umbrella term to describe a person who experiences emotional, romantic, and/or sexual feelings or attractions to people with whom they have formed an emotional bond with first. Folks who identify as demisexual may also describe the direction of their sexual attraction by also identifying as gay, bi, lesbian, queer, and straight. Ex: a Demisexual Lesbian or a Demisexual Bisexual Man
10. Gay: A male-identfying person who has an emotional, romantic, and/or sexual orientation towards other male-identfying persons.
Note: This term may also be used as a generic umbrella term to describe a person who is emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same or non-binary gender.
11. Gender: Term that refers to the performative characteristics of women, men, girls, boys, and non-binary adults and children that are socially constructed. Unlike biological sex, gender is a product of society. See Gender Expression and Gender Identity for more information.
12. Gender Expression: A term used to describe how a person outwardly shows or presents their gender. An external display of one’s gender through a combination of clothing, appearance, mannerisms, and other factors that may or may not reflect their gender identity or sexual orientation. A person’s chosen name and pronoun(s) are also ways to express gender.
13. Gender Identity: A person’s internal and individual experience of their own gender – whether male, female, non-binary, genderqueer, two-spirit, or something else – which may or may not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth. It’s a person’s sense of being a man, woman, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum.
14. Heterosexual: A male-identfying person who has an emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to a female-identifying person or a female-identifying person who has an emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to a male-identifying person.
15. Homosexual: An outdated clinical term, often considered derogatory and offensive, used to describe someone who is emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same or non-binary sex or gender.
16. Internalized Homophobia: A term used to describe when a person is unable or unwilling to acknowledge their own queerness, be it their sexual orientation or gender identity. Internalized homophobia can impact queer and straight people alike because they have internalized, consciously or unconsciously, the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that queerness is wrong or sinful, and that homophobia prevents the person from exploring, understanding, and accepting their own queerness.
17. Lesbian: A female-identifying person who has an emotional, romantic, and/or sexual orientation towards other female-identifying persons. Some non-binary and genderqueer folks may also identify with this term.
18. Non-binary: An umbrella term to describe a person who does not feel their gender identity can be defined within the margins of the gender binary (man/woman) and/or feel their gender identity does not sit comfortably within ‘man’ or ‘woman.’ Non-binary identities and experiences with gender are on a spectrum and can only be defined by the person living within those identities and experiences.
19. Outed: When a queer person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is disclosed to someone else without their consent.
20. Pansexual: A person who has emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction towards another person regardless of their sex or gender. A person who is attracted to all genders. This term is not synonymous with the term bisexual (“bi” meaning “two” attractions). A pansexual person finds another person’s sex and/or gender irrelevant to the attraction they feel towards that person.
21. Pronouns: Words used to refer to a person’s gender in conversation. Examples include he/him, she/her, they/them, ze/zir. Pronouns are not inanimate objects, feelings, or living animals or trees. They are definitely not middle fingers pointing up in the air attached to usually white, cisgendered folks. Pronouns are not a concept invented by the woke left or the Millennial snowflake meant to indoctrinate your children or invite the devil into your home. No. They are terms whose usage trace back to around 700 (DCC) CE/AD (Gregorian or Julian) used to refer to a person’s gender. Pronouns are taught to children in elementary or primary school, and even earlier than that in the home.
22. Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC, formerly just QPOC): A term used to describe the intersecting experiences queer and trans folks of color that are different from what their white queer and trans friendfolks face. These intersecting experiences refer to a QTPOC’s marginalized experiences at the hands of racism, ethnocentrism, nationalism, and/or xenophobia.
23. Sex: Assigned to a person at birth on the basis of primary sex characteristics (genitalia) and reproductive functions. Often described as SAAB (“sex assigned at birth”) or DSAB (“designated sex at birth”).
24. Sexual Orientation: A person’s emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction (or lack thereof) to other people.
25. Transgender: An umbrella term to describe a person who is challenging, questioning, or actively changing their gender from that assigned at birth. Or, people whose gender is not the same as or does not sit comfortably with the sex they were assigned at birth. See trans man and trans woman for more information.
26. Trans Man: A person whose assigned sex at birth was female but identifies and lives as a male. Ex: Elliot Page
27. Trans Woman: A person whose assigned sex at birth was male but identifies and lives as a woman. Ex: Laverne Cox
28. Two-Spirit: A term used within some indigenous communities (often American Indian and Alaska Native) that reflects the multi-layered and/or complex Indigenous understandings of gender roles, spirituality,and sexuality within their indigenous culture.