Greater NW Pride: What Does LGBTQ+ Mean? A Primer


What Does LGBTQ+ Mean? A Primer

Language matters. And naming and labeling matters. One’s “sexual orientation” is a social construct and context dependent, which we all use to identify and self-identify just one part of our life. So, I am a gay, cisgender, white, male, Christian, who prefers the personal pronoun “he/him/his;” I am able bodied and hearing. Our gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, age, ability, hearing, being deaf, disability, socioeconomic class, and religion also matter and influence who and how we understand ourselves. For this blog, the focus is on sexual orientation, though the other parts mentioned above compose the intersectionality of all things that make us who and whose we are.
This week, the focus is on the “alphabet soup” of terms used in the LGBTQ+ community in talking about “us.” This has evolved since the disgraced "clinical" term, "homosexuality" was rejected when the American Psychiatric Association removed it from their Diagnostic Statistics Manual (DSM)l in 1973. Next week, the blog focus will be on ways allies can be, well, allies. The definition or description of the terms below come from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and are offered to help the reader understand not only the LGBTQ+ meaning, but also the A, A, P, and I, along with non-binary, or gender x. I hope this helps us in what we write in our sermons, newsletters, blogs, and websites, as well as daily conversation via text, Facebook, Instagram, or when we talk with one another.https://www.hrc.org/resources/glossary-of-terms
Androgynous: “Identifying and/or presenting as neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine.”
Asexual: “The lack of a sexual attraction or desire for other people.”
Bisexual: “A person emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender, or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree.”
Cisgender: “A term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.”
Gay: “A person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to members of the same sex,” usually used to express emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction between two men."
Gender-expansive: “Conveys a wider, more flexible range of gender identity and/or expression than typically associated with the binary gender system;"
Gender Fluid: “A person who does not identify with a single fixed gender; of or relating to a person having or expressing a fluid or unfixed gender identity;”
Gender Identity: “One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither—how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves.  One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.”
Gender non-conforming:“A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category;”
Genderqueer: Genderqueer people typically reject notions of static categories of gender and embrace a fluidity of gender identity and often, though not always, sexual orientation. People who identify as “genderqueer” may see themselves as being both male and female, neither male nor female or as falling completely outside these categories;"
Intersex: “An umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural bodily variations. In some cases, these traits are visible at birth, and in others, they are not apparent until puberty. Some chromosomal variations of this type may not be physically apparent at all."

Lesbian: “A woman who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other women;"
Non-Binary X:“An adjective describing a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman.  Non-binary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. While many also identify as transgender, not all non-binary people do.”
Pansexual: “Describes someone who has the potential for emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to people of any gender though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree."
Queer: “A term people often use to express fluid identities and orientations. Often used interchangeably with LGBTQ.”
Questioning: “A term used to describe people who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity."
Sex Assigned at Birth:“The sex (male or female) given to a child at birth, most often based on the child’s external anatomy. This is also referred to as ‘assigned at birth.’”
Sexual Orientation: “An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to other people."
Transgender: “An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth.  Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.”

Brett Webb-Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at brett@umoi.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!