An Essential Guide to LGBTQ+ Inclusive Terminology

Pride Month is here, and as millions of LGBTQ+ people and their allies celebrate around the world, it’s also important to remember that Pride goes beyond parades and events. Pride provides an opportunity for visibility, education, and belonging to a worldwide community. It’s about community and family, about being loved for the very things that make you unique, about self-expression and resilience, and most importantly it’s about being authentic not just in June, but all year long. 

One of the easiest ways to support the LGBTQ+ community is to respect identities and show you are a supportive and safe person in their life. Start by committing to understanding the terms LGBTQ+ people use to identify themselves.  


Terminology: Educate Yourself

  • Bisexual, Bi, Bi+: An adjective used to describe a person who has the potential to be physically, romantically, and/or emotionally attracted to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree. The bi in bisexual refers to genders the same as and different from one's own gender. Bi+ which is intended to be inclusive of those who call themselves bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer and other words which describe people who have the potential to be attracted to more than one gender.
  • Cisgender: Someone who identifies with their assigned gender at birth. 
  • Gay: Often referring to men attracted to other men, but may also be used as an umbrella term for anyone identifying as LGBTQ+.
  • LGBTQ+: Acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning. The plus is used to include other sexualities and identities. 
  • Lesbian: Women who are attracted to other women. 
  • Non-binary: 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. Non-binary can also be used as an umbrella term encompassing identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer or gender-fluid.
  • Queer: A term people often use to express a spectrum of identities and orientations that are counter to the mainstream. Queer is often used as a catch-all to include many people, including those who do not identify as exclusively straight and/or folks who have non-binary or gender-expansive identities. This term was previously used as a slur, but has been reclaimed by many parts of the LGBTQ+ movement.
  • Transgender: Used by individuals whose gender identity and/or presentation differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans can also include people who don’t identify as either male or female and call themselves genderqueer. 


Find additional terms list including best practices in the GLAAD Media Reference Guide.