We present here a few terms that might seem confusing. Actually, however, most words
mean the same thing in gay vocabulary as in non-gay vocabulary. Love means the same to both groups. So do home, friend, and death.
gay man, lesbian woman Refers to people whose sexual and romantic feelings are primarily for the same gender. Gay is sometimes used to refer to all people who are not heterosexual.
bisexual, or bi Refers to people whose sexual and romantic feelings may be toward either the same gender or the opposite gender.
non-gay, straight Refers to people whose sexual and romantic feelings are primarily for the opposite gender.
in the closet Keeping one's lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity a secret.
coming out (of the closet) Telling someone about one's lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity.
outing Making public the lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity of someone else. However, it's perfectly okay to refer to someone as gay or lesbian when they are clearly comfortable about being "out."
gender orientation (sexual orientation) Term to describe anything that goes into why people are attracted to each other. This term is usually preferred to sexual preference because it conveys the fact that many people feel they are gay or non-gay by nature, not simply by choice.
homophobia Society's misunderstanding, ignorance, or fear of gay, lesbian, or bisexual people.
heterosexism The assumption that everyone wants to be part of a couple in which one member is a male and one a female. In fact, some people don't want to be part of a couple. Some people want to be in a couple with someone of the same gender.
homosexual Clinical term for gay or lesbian person.
heterosexual Clinical term for non-gay person.
intersexual Born "in-between" what are known as "normal" sexes. For example, those who appear to be one gender but are medically/biologically of the other gender.
PFLAG Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, an international organization with a chapter in Grand Rapids.
sexual preference See gender orientation.
transgendered person Preoperative or postoperative individual sexually altered to have external body match inner identity and spirits as men or women.
transsexual See transgendered person.