The following list of lesbian and gay terms has been compiled by The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association:
Cross Dresser: This term itself is not connected to ones sexual orientation. It is the preferred term for a person who wears styles of clothing mostly associated with those of the opposite sex. See transvestite.
Domestic Partner: This refers to married partners who live together. Domestic partners can be couples of the same sex or the opposite sex. In many countries (though not necessarily all states or provinces in each country) partners can register to get similar or even the same benefits offered to married couples. See lesbian/gay relationships.
Drag: To be in drag means you are dressed in the attire of the opposite sex.
Drag Performer: Entertainers who dress and act in styles most commonly associated with the opposite sex. Women who dress as men are called drag kings and men as women are called drag queens. This term is not synonymous with transgender or cross-dressing.
Dyke: This lesbian term began as a pejorative term for a lesbian, though these days it’s being reclaimed by some lesbians. Caution* This is still an extremely offensive word when used as an epithet.
Fag (Faggot): Originally a pejorative term for gay men, this gay term, like the lesbian dyke, is now being reclaimed. Caution* still extremely offensive when used as an epithet.
Gay: Few people say homosexual anymore in favor of gay. This is what people call men who are more attracted to members of the same sex both emotionally and sexually. It should be used as an adjective as opposed to a singular noun. When referring to women, use the word lesbian instead. When talking about both say gay men and lesbians. If you need a smaller word, for titles or headlines for example, it is okay to use the word gays to describe both.
Homo: A pejorative term for homosexual men that should never ever pass the lips of anyone at all.
Homophobia: The fear, hatred and/or dislike of homosexuality in general or bisexuals, gay men and lesbians.
Homosexual: This noun pertains to a person who is attracted to those of the same sex. Generally refers to gay men.
Lesbian: This is the preferred term to be used when referring to women who are sexually and emotionally attracted to other women rather than men. You will most likely find some women who would rather be called gay instead of lesbian. Either way you can simply ask what your friend wants to be referred to as.
LGBT: Acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender.
Lifestyle: A term to be avoided as it is pretty politically charged. Often it is used in a way that implies that gays, lesbians and transgender people are “choosing” to live a gay lifestyle rather than a “straight” one. It is insulting and just plain false.
Partner: This is the acceptable term for a person (man or woman) who is in a committed gay or lesbian relationship.
Pink Triangle: Back during the Nazi era, gay men in the concentration camps were forced to wear a pink triangle on their clothing. It has become a symbol of gay pride. Just a quick side note, lesbians were often forced to wear a black triangle.
Pride (Day and/or march): These days, months and marches are times when the LGBT community comes together and celebrates the freedom to be themselves. These celebrations also often commemorate the Stonewall Inn riots of June 28, 1969. President Obama just recently named June as Gay Pride Month officially. See Stonewall.
Queen: Began as a pejorative term for an effeminate gay man. Not to be used as an epithet. Avoid using this word.
Queer: This too began as a pejorative term for gays, though these days some gay men, lesbians, transgender and bisexual people use it as a self-affirming umbrella term. Never to be used as an epithet, it would deeply insult the person.
Sexual Orientation: This refers to a persons innate sexual attraction. You can use this term in place of “sexual preference” it’s preferred now. See lifestyle.
Stonewall: On June 28, 1969 The Stonewall Inn tavern in New York City’s Greenwich Village was where there was a violent police raid. After that raid there were a few days of protests. This event and the following protests are considered the birth of the modern gay civil rights movement.
Tranny: A word that was used to slag down a transgender person. *Caution: Avoid this term unless you have already established that this is a persons self-identified term.
Transgender (adj.): This has become the umbrella term that refers to people whose physical gender and gender identity do not match one another. This can include preoperative, postoperative or nonoperative transsexuals, female and male cross-dressers, drag queens or kings, female or male impersonators, and intersex individuals. In most cases this it he preferred term but if you know someone who would rather be called a transsexual then go ahead and refer to them in the way they like best. If a person is born a man and lives as a woman they are to referred to as she and visa versa.
Transition: Referrs to the process by which one alters one’s sex. This can include several different things from surgery to hormone therapy and even changes of legal identity.
Transsexual (n.): Men and women who work to acquire the physical characteristics of the opposite sex with which they identify. Individual can be of any sexual orientation, they are not necessarily gay or lesbian, this is unrelated. Refer to them as the sex they identify with and live as.
Transvestite: Never use this term. It is outdated and insulting, it is like calling a black person colored. Not cool. See cross-dresser.