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Queer 101

LGBTQIA+ Glossary

Here is a non-comprehensive list of LGBTQIA+ terminology that you may come across when interacting with individuals in the community. This list is "non-comprehensive" because language within the community is fluid and often changing.

If you see or hear a term not in the glossary:

  1. Search it - the Internet is our friend!
  2. Ask the individual what that term means for them and their identity - Two people might use the same term (i.e. bisexual), but define it differently (i.e. "I like men and women," v. "I like all people, I just use bisexual because it's more commonly known and I have to explain it less.")

The glossary is divided into sections.

  1. Terms for All Identities: Here you will find terms that can apply to any identity. We have also included basic social justice terminology.
  2. Sex and Gender: Here you will find terms that apply to our understanding of sex and gender.
  3. Sexual Orientation: Here you will find terms that apply to our understanding of sexual orientations (e.g., "Gay").

Each section has subheadings to help you navigate:

  1. General - terms needed to talk about and explain identities.
  2. Identities - descriptions of identities that fall under that section.
  3. Experience-Related Terminology - terms that help explain some aspects of having an identity in that category.

Social Justice Terminology

Discrimination - differential treatment that favors one individual or group over another based on prejudice.

Institutional Oppression - Societial processes and expectations that benefit one group at the expense of another through the use of language, media, education, religion, economics, etc.

Internalized Oppression - The process by which a member of an oppressed group comes to accept and live out the inaccurate stereotypes applied to the oppressed group.

Oppression - the systematic exploitation of social groups by another for its own benefit. It involves institutional control, ideological domination, and the promulgation of the dominant group's culture on the oppressed. Oppression = Prejudice + Power.

Prejudice - A conscious or unconscious negative belief about a whole group of people and its individual members.

Stereotype - A preconceived or oversimplified generalization about an entire group of people without regard for their individual differences. Though often negative, can also be complimentary. Even positive stereotypes can have a negative impact, however, simply because they involve broad generalizations that ignore individual realities.

Experiential Terminology

Ally - a person who supports and honors LGBTQIA+ diversity, acts accordingly to challenge homophobic/transphobic and heterosexist/cisgender centric remarks and behaviors, and is willing to explore and understand these forms of bias within themselves.

Closet - being "in the closet" means keeping your gender identity and/or sexual orientation a secret. Many LGTBQIA+ people remain in the closet because of fear of rejection, harassment, and anti-gay violence. Many LGBTQIA+ people find that being in the closet can be an isolated, confining experience.

Coming Out - the developmental process in which a person acknowledges, accepts, and appreciates their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. Coming out is a lifelong process, starting with coming out to oneself and then to others.

Outing - exposing someone's gender identity and/or sexual orientation to others, usually without their permission.

Partner - gender-inclusive term for someone with whom one is involved, usually in a primary relationship. Avoids assumption of gender identity or sexual orientation. Also, a person's partner in marriage, life, dating. Can be used by all couples regardless of identities.

Passing - a person's ability to be percieved as a dominant gender/sex or sexual orientation that they might not hold (i.e. a trans woman who one would not question being trans)

Queer - 1: an umbrella term to describe individuals who don't identify as straight and/or cisgender. Individuals who identify as queer might or might not begin using a different term at a later date.
2: a slur used to refer to someone who isn't straight and/or cisgender. Due to its historical use as a derogatory term, and how it is still used as a slur many communities, it is not embraced or used by all LGBTQ people.
3: Often be use interchangeably with LGBTQ (e.g., "queer people" instead of "LGBTQ people").

Questioning - The process of exploring one's own gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation. Some folks may also use this term to name their identity within the LGBTQIA community.

General Terminology

Gender - a social construct defining the collection of characteristics that are culturally associated with masculinity or femininity; gender is to "masculine" and "feminine" as sex is to "male" and "female."

Gender Binary - The idea that there are only two genders - male/female or man/woman and that a person must be strictly gendered as either/or. (See also 'Identity Sphere.')

Gender Identity - the internal perception of an one's gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don't align with what they understand their options for gender to be. Often conflated with biological sex, or sex assigned at birth. Research indicates that gender identity is typically established by 3 years of age, however gender identity is fluid and can change throughout someone's lifetime.

Sex / Biological Sex - a medical term referring to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply "sex," "physical sex," "anatomical sex," or specifically as "sex assigned at birth."

Identity Terminology

Bigender/Trigender/Pangender: People who identify as two, three, or all genders. They may shift between these genders or be all of them at the same time.

Cisgender - /"siss-jendur"/ a gender description for when someone's sex assigned at birth and gender identity correspond in the expected way (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth, and identifies as a man). A simple way to think about it is if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender. The word cisgender can also be shortened to "cis."

Drag King or Drag Queen - a woman or a man, respectively, who employ exaggerated gender-marked clothing, makeup, and mannerisms for their own and other people's appreciation or for entertainment.

Gender non-conforming: Not fully aligning to or fulfilling social expectations of gender, whether that be in terms of expression, roles, or performance.

Genderfluid: This term can be used as a specific identity or as a way of articulating the changing nature of one's gender identity or expression. People who are genderfluid may feel that their gender identity or expression is changeable.

Genderqueer - a term used by many trans-youth who do not identify as either male or female and who often seek to blur gender lines.

Intersex - term for a combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals that differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. Many visibly intersex people are given surguries by doctors at birth to make the individual's sex characteristics conform to a certain gender/sex alignment, often without their parents knowledge or consent. Intersex people are relatively common - moreso than redheads. Formerly known as hermaphrodite (or hermaphroditic), but these terms are now outdated and derogatory.

Non-binary: Non-binary people are those who identify as a gender that is neither man nor woman or who are not men or women exclusively. Non-binary can refer to a specific gender identity or it can function as an umbrella term which can include (though not always) people who are genderqueer, agender, bigender, and others. Often combined with "transgender/trans" as an umbrella term: T/NB - trans/nonbinary.

Transgender - Adjective used most often as an umbrella term. Frequently abbreviated to "trans". It describes a wide range of identities and experiences of people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from conventional expectations based on their assigned sex at birth. Not all trans people undergo medical transition (surgery or hormones). Some commonly held definitions: 1. Someone whose behavior or expression does not align their perceived gender, according to society. 2. A gender outside of the man/woman binary. 3. Having no gender or multiple genders. Subterms include:

  • AMAB/MAAB: Assigned Male At Birth / Male Assigned At Birth, respectively. These terms refer to what gender someone was assigned at birth (in this case male, thus you are expected to be a boy/man). Many trans people use these as a way to talk about their gender identity without labeling their current identity.
  • MTF - a male-to-female transgender person, or a trans(gender) woman. Some trans people reject this term, arguing that they have always been female and are only making that identity visible, or that it reinforces a binary view of gender. Often used to describe what gender confirmation surgeries one may have gone through.
  • AFAB/FAAB: Assigned Female At Birth and Female Assigned At Birth respectively. These terms refer to what gender you were assigned at birth (in this case female, thus you are expected to be a girl/woman). Many trans people use these as a way to talk about their gender identity without labeling their current identity.
  • FTM - a female-to-male transgender person, or a trans(gender) man. Some trans people reject this term, arguing that they have always been male and are only making that identity visible, or that it reinforces a binary view of gender. Often used to describe what gender confirmation surgeries one may have gone through.

Two Spirit - an umbrella term traditionally used within someNorth American Native and Indigenous communities to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of multiple genders, and are seen as being 'blessed by the Creator. It is important to note that being two spirit is not the same as being Gay, Lesbian, or Trans.

Experiential Terminology

Cisgender Privilege: The privileges cisgender people have because their gender identities match their assigned gender and because they are considered "normal". For example, cisgender people don't have to worry about violence and institutionalized discrimination simply due to the fact they are cisgender.

Dead name - the birth or given name of someone who has changed it. Often used by trans people who go by their chosen name and do not want to refer to their former identity. It is not appropriate to ask someone what their deadname is. If you need to know if the name you know them as is their legal name, ask "Is "(insert name)" your legal name/the name used on legal documentation?" Also used as a verb when one uses the given name (i.e. "They deadnamed me.").

Doing Drag or Being In Drag - wearing clothing considered appropriate for someone of another gender. Drag also generally includes performing exaggerated aspects of the opposite gender.

Gender Confirmation Surgeries - Medical surgeries used to modify one's body to be more congruent with one's gender identity. Also known as sex-reassignment surguries, though this has fallen out of favor. Note: the plural is used intentionally, as many people ask "Have they had THE surgery," when there are in fact multiple surgeries involved.

Gender Oppression - The societal, institutional, and individual beliefs and practices that privilege cisgender (gender-typical people) and subordinate and disparage transgender people. Also known as "genderism."

Misgender: The act of attributing a person to a gender they do not identify as. (i.e. using an old name or pronouns).

Transition - This term is primarily used to refer to the process a person undergoes when changing their bodily appearance/expression either to be more congruent with the gender/sex they feel themselves to be and/or to be in harmony with their preferred gender expression. Not always a medical process - might simply involve a new name/pronouns/wardrobe, but can include hormone therapy and/or surgeries.

Transmisogyny: Originally coined by the author Julia Serano, this term highlights the intersectionality of misogyny and transphobia and how they are often experienced as a dual form of oppression by trans women and some other AMAB/MAAB/MTF trans people.

Transphobia - the fear and hatred of or discomfort with people who are transgender.

General Terminology

Emotional Attraction - a capacity that evokes the want to engage in emotionally intimate behavior (e.g., sharing, confiding, trusting, inter-depending), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none to intense). Often conflated with sexual attraction or romantic attraction.

Romantic Attraction - a capacity that evokes the want to engage in romantically intimate behavior (e.g., dating, relationships, marriage), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense). Often conflated with sexual attraction or emotional attraction - one can be romantically attracted to two or more identities (biromantic), but only experience sexual attraction for one of them (gay/lesbian or straight).

Sexual Attraction - a capacity that evokes the want to engage in physically intimate behavior (e.g., kissing, touching, intercourse), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense). Often conflated with romantic attraction, emotional attraction, and/or spiritual attraction.

Sexual Behavior - what a person does in terms of sexual acts. Describes actions, not an identity - a man might experiment with a another man, but this does not make him gay.

Sexual Orientation - the type of sexual, romantic, emotional/spiritual attraction one has the capacity to feel for some others, generally labeled based on the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to. Often confused with sexual preference.

Sexual Preference - what a person likes or prefers to do sexually: a conscious recognition or choice not to be confused with sexual orientation. Often comes up in relation to bisexual identities: one might be attracted to men and women, but have a preference for one over the other.

Sexuality - the complex range of components that make us sexual beings: includes emotional, physical, and sexual aspects, as well as self-identification (including sexual orientation and gender), behavioral preferences and practices, fantasies, and feelings of affection and emotional affinity.

Identity Terminology

Aromantic /"ay-ro-man-tic"/ - experiencing little or no romantic attraction to others and/or has a lack of interest in romantic relationships/behavior. Aromanticism exists on a continuum from people who experience no romantic attraction or have any desire for romantic activities, to those who experience low levels, or romantic attraction only under specific conditions. Sometimes abbreviated to "aro" (pronounced like "arrow"). Someone who is aromantic might or might not desire sexual activity.

Asexual /"ay-sexual"/ - A sexual orientation generally characterized by not feeling sexual attraction or a desire for partnered sexuality. Asexuality is distinct from celibacy, which is the deliberate abstention from sexual activity. Some asexual people do have sex. There are many diverse ways of being asexual. Many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels (see demisexual). Someone who is asexual might or might not desire romantic activity.

Bicurious - A curiosity about having sexual relations with a same gender/sex person.

Biromantic /"bi-ro-man-tic"/ - experiencing romantic attraction to multiple other identities. Someone who is biromantic might be sexually attracted to the same identities they are romantically attracted to, or they might not.

Bisexual - A person whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of the same and other genders, or towards people regardless of their gender. Often used as an umbrella term for people who are attracted to more than one gender.

Bisexual Umbrella / Bi/Pan Umbrella - a category of identities that describe people who are attracted to more than one gender. Holds terms like bisexual, polysexual, pansexual, omnisexual, etc.

Demisexual - is a sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond. Most demisexuals feel sexual attraction rarely compared to the general population, and some have little to no interest in sexual activity. Demisexuals are considered to be on the asexual spectrum, meaning they are closely aligned

Gay - was used commonly in previous generations to refer to all people who are LGBTQIA+. It is more commonly used to refer to gay men. This word has been used often as slang to make reference to something negative. The use of this word in this manner may be hurtful to sexual minorities and is not consistent with being an ally.

Gay Man - a man who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, and relationally attracted to other men

Heterosexual/Straight - a person who is primarily or exclusively emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, and relationally attracted to people of the "opposite" sex

Homosexual - An word used to describe a person who is primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex. The use of this term outside of a clinical setting has fallen out of favor, as it was a medical diagnosis when first introduced, and connotes an uncomfortablity.

Lesbian - a woman who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, and relationally attracted to other women.

Pansexual, Omnisexual - Terms used to describe people who have romantic, sexual or affectional desire for people of all genders and sexes. Often put under the Bisexual Label (Bi-Umbrella or Bi/Pan Umbrella), as more people are familiar with the term "bisexual."

Experiential Terminology

Biphobia - fear/hatred or discrimination against people who are bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, or nonmonosexual. This can present as comments like "When you get married, do you become gay/straight?" These comments may come from genuine curiosity or confusion, but contribute to a lack of understadning about the idenitity. A subset of this is Bi-erasure, or pretending that bisexuality is a "myth." This often comes from within the community as much as outside of it. For example, "One day, you'll realize you're actually just gay."

Double Discrimination - Refers to the prejudicial attitudes toward and discrimination against bisexual individuals from monosexual individuals (i.e., individuals who identify as being attracted to one gender). The term comes from the fact that bisexual individuals can face discrimination from TWO sources: heteronormative society as well as members of the queer community (e.g., lesbian and gay individuals). Closely related to bipohia and bi erasure.

Heterosexual Privilege - the basic civil rights and social privileges that a heterosexual person automatically receives that are systematically denied to gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons simply because of their sexual orientation. The assumption that all people are heterosexual.

Homophobia - the fear and hatred of or discomfort with people who love and sexually desire members of the same sex. Homophobic/transphobic reactions often lead to intolerance, bigotry, and violence against anyone not acting within heterosexual norms.

Heterocentrism - the assumption that everyone is heterosexual unless otherwise indicated. Labels heterosexuality to be a "norm" and all other identities to be outside of this "norm."

Heteronormativity - A set of lifestyle norms, practices, and institutions that promote binary alignment of biological sex, gender identity, and gender roles; assume heterosexuality as a fundamental and natural norm; and privilege monogamous, committed relationships and reproductive sex above all other sexual practices.

Heterosexism - The assumption that all people are or should be heterosexual. Heterosexism excludes the needs, concerns, and life experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer people while it gives advantages to heterosexual people. It is often a subtle form of oppression, which reinforces realities of silence and invisibility.

Straight-Acting - A term usually applied to gay men who readily pass as heterosexual. The term implies that there is a certain way that gay men act that is significantly different from heterosexual men. "Straight-acting" gay men are often looked down upon in the LGBTQ community for seemingly accessing heterosexual privilege.

Why Pronouns Matter

Using pronouns to talk about somebody is the same as using a person's name. While you may not give much thought to your name, many people feel a strong sense of pride in their name. Some people are more comfortable with their first name instead of their middle name (or vice versa), others, a derivation of their name or a nickname. How somebody asks for you to refer to them is how people make space for themselves. Similarly, the pronouns with which someone identifies are how they feel valued and seen. We have been conditioned to assume gender based on what people look like, and that can result in harmful messages. Taking the time to learn and use someone's pronouns is a small gesture that makes a big difference!

Helpful Resource: Why Pronouns Matter for Trans People

Helpful Resource: Pronouns Matter - MyPronouns.org

YES! YES! YES! In fact, this is a practice that we should all become more comfortable with. Asking for someone's pronouns shows that you are being thoughtful about the lived experience of whomever you are interacting with. Many people have never thought about their pronouns, and may not know how to respond when asked; that's OK! This is an opportunity to talk about what pronouns are, why they are important, and why it is important to ask for them! The best way to ask for someone's pronouns is to simply say something like "What pronouns do you use?" or "What are your pronouns?". If you are unsure of someone's pronouns, it is typically OK to use 'They/Them/Theirs'. An even safer way to refer to someone if you don't know their pronouns is by using their name! For example, "As Chris said...", "When I was talking to Heidi...", or "Did you know Alex's favorite band is...?"

Helpful Resource: Using and Asking for Pronouns

Absolutely! You might have even reached this page from someone's email signature that included their pronouns, even though they might not be trans/non-binary, or even LGBTQIA+! Sharing your pronouns is a great way to challenge the norm that you can assume someone's pronouns, and to create space for everyone to share their pronouns, especially for trans, queer, and/or non-binary people. There are a variety of ways to do this; you can add pronouns to your email signature, put them on your nametag or door, add them to your profile on social media, and share them out loud when introducing yourself. If you are leading a group discussion, you can also ask that when each person introduces themself, they share their pronouns (as they are comfortable- we don't want to force anyone to out themselves!) We understand that sharing pronouns can be awkward at first, but want to assure you that, once you have done it a few times, it just becomes a part of how you introduce yourself!

Mistakes are bound to happen. We have been taught our whole lives to believe there are only two genders, and that we can tell what someone's gender is based on looking at them. It is OK to feel embarassed, confused, or apologetic for misgendering someone, but the important thing is to acknowledge your mistake and move on. You don't need to feel like you owe the person a tearful explanation of why you made the mistake; rather, a simple "I'm sorry, they..." in the moment will usually suffice. If you realize that you have been misgendering someone for a while, reaching out to them to acknowledge your mistake and apologizing is a great first step. Saying "I wanted to apologize for referring to you by the wrong pronouns. I know you use "she/her" pronouns and I will make sure to not make that mistake again." shows that you understand that you've made a mistake AND that you will actively take steps to correct it. It is important to note that people may respond different ways when they are misgendered. Some people will move on quickly, others may get upset. Whatever the response, being sincere in interacting with that person will help maintain the relationship.

Helpful Resource: What To Do (and Not Do) If You Misgender Someone

YES! Multitudes! Most people are familiar with "He/Him/His" to refer to a man or boy, and "She/Her/Hers" to refer to a woman or girl, but there are so many other pronouns with which people identify! These pronouns have a variety of origins; some are revived from Old English, others have been created by literary works, and still others have been borrowed from other languages. One that people often struggle with is the singular 'They'. We are taught throughout schooling that 'They' can only be used to refer to a group of people, but that is simply not true! An easy way to understand how the singular 'They' is used is to think about a lost item. If you find an umbrella in a crowded room, someone will often stand up and ask "Did anyone lose their umbrella?".

Helpful Resource: Merriam Websiter Announces Singular "They" as 2019 Word of the Year

Helpful Resource: Merriam-Webster Dictionary - Singular 'They'

Helpful Resource: It's OK To Use "They" To Describe One Person: Here's Why

Helpful Resource: What Are Pronouns With Which People Identify?

Academic Style Guides on the Singular Pronoun 'They' (Indiana University Bloomington, Gender Studies)

Glossary of LGBTQ+ Terms (University of California at Davis LGBTQIA Resource Center)

Gender Pronouns (Trans Student Educational Resources)

Neopronouns Explained (UNCG Office of Intercultural Engagement)

NOTE: We have bolded all of the times and all of the ways in which we used the singular 'They' on this page in an effort to show how commonplace our usage actually is. We hope this can serve as a tool to help you show others how often we use the singular 'They'.

Theis page was adapted from The Office of Intercultural Engagement at UNC Greensboro. Used with permission.

LGBTQIA+ Flags and Symbols

Rainbow Flag

The Rainbow Flag first appeared in 1978, when it was flown during the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade. Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco artist, designed the rainbow flag in response to a need for a symbol that could be used year after year. Baker borrowed symbolism from the civil rights and hippie movements, and created a flag that has gained worldwide recognition. The original flag featured 8 colors, each with a distinct meaning assigned by Baker: Hot pink (Sex), Red (Life), Orange (Healing), Yellow (Sunlight), Green (Nature), Turquoise (Magic/Art), Indigo (Serenity), Violet (Spirit).

After the assassination of gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978, demand for the rainbow flag greatly increased. To meet demand, the Paramount Flag Company began selling a version of the flag using stock rainbow fabric with seven stripes using the colors red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, and violet. As Baker ramped up production of his version of the flag, he too dropped the hot pink stripe because of the unavailability of hot-pink fabric. San Francisco-based Paramount Flag Co. also began selling a surplus stock of Rainbow Girls flags from its retail store on the southwest corner of Polk and Post, at which Gilbert Baker was an employee.

In 1979, the flag was modified again; the organizers of the 1979 San Francisco parade decided to split the flag into two in order to decorate the two sides of the parade route. To achieve this, they needed an even number of stripes, so the turquoise stripe was dropped, which resulted in a six stripe version of the flag we know today — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

In October 2017, a rainbow LGBT flag was raised at the Stonewall National Monument, the first U.S. National Monument dedicated to LGBT rights and history, situated near the Stonewall Inn. It received its National Monument designation on June 24, 2016. This flag is the first officially maintained LGBT flag at a federal monument.


Person of Color (POC) Rainbow Flag

The Rainbow Flag was used in its 6-stripe design almost exclusively since 1979. Other iterations were created, but none gained as much traction or attention. In June 2017, however, the Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs launched the More Color More Pride campaign, unveiling a new 8-stripe flag to represent inclusion of people of color in the LGBTQ community. The flag retained the 6-stripes that were in common use, and added a black and brown stripe to the top of the flag.

This new flag was created in large part as a response to issues around racism and intersectionality the Philadelphia LGBTQIA+ community had faced in the months and years preceeding its debut. As Eater reported in February 2017, 11 gay bars and nightlife venues were required to take anti-racism training after complaints were made that the bars and clubs were discriminating against nonwhite patrons.

LGBT Pride Flags/POC Rainbow

Lesbian Flags

Labrys Lesbian Flag

The labrys lesbian flag was created in 1999 by graphic designer Sean Campbell, and published in June 2000 in the Palm Springs edition of the Gay and Lesbian Times Pride issue.The design involves a labrys superimposed on the inverted black triangle, set against a violet hue background. The labrys was used as an ancient religious symbol, and for other various purposes. In the 1970s it was adopted as a symbol of empowerment by the lesbian feminist community. Women considered asocial by the Third Reich because they did not conform to the Nazi ideal of a woman, which included homosexual females, were condemned to concentration camps and wore an inverted black triangle badge to identify them. Some lesbians reclaimed this symbol as gay men reclaimed the pink triangle (many lesbians also reclaimed the pink triangle although lesbians were not included in Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code).


Lipstick Lesbian Flag

The "pink" lesbian flag consists of six shades of red and pink colors and a white bar in the center. The original design, known as the "lipstick lesbian" flag, includes a red kiss and was introduced in the weblog This Lesbian Life in 2010. Both the "pink" and "lipstick lesbian" flags represent "homosexual women who have a more feminine gender expression". The original flag has not been widely adopted; however, its non-kiss variant attracted more use.

The term "lipstick lesbian" has been met with controversy. Some authors have commented that the term lipstick lesbian is commonly used broadly to refer to feminine bisexual women or to heterosexual women who temporarily show romantic or sexual interest in other women to impress men; for example, Jodie Brian, Encyclopedia of Gender and Society, Volume 1 (2009), states, "A common depiction of lipstick lesbianism includes conventionally attractive and sexually insatiable women who desire one another but only insofar as their desire is a performance for male onlookers or a precursor to sex with men."

The term has also been used as a derogatory term from within the community. For example, a more masculine identifying/expressing lesbian might call a more feminine identifying/expressing lesbian "not a real lesbian, just a lipstick lesbian," implying that their sexuality is not "complete" because they still adhere to societal expectations of femininity.

LGBT Pride Flags/Lesbian (Lipstick)

New Lesbian Flag(s)

After the lipstick lesbian flag, Tumblr blogger Emily Gwen created a design for a new lesbian flag in 2018. This flag retained the seven stripes from the lipstick flag, but changed the top set to orange shades. The stripes, from top to bottom, represent 'gender non-conformity' (dark orange), 'independence' (orange), 'community' (light orange), 'unique relationships to womanhood' (white) , 'serenity and peace' (pink), 'love and sex' (dusty pink), and 'femininity' (dark rose).

Following the Tumblr post where the 7-stripe design was voted on, a second version with a simplified five color design was introduced.

LGBT Pride Flags Lesbian (New)
LGBT Pride Flags/Lesbian

Bisexual Flag

First unveiled on 5 December 1998, the bisexual pride flag was designed by Michael Page to represent and increase visibility of bisexuals in the LGBT community and society as a whole. This rectangular flag consists of a broad magenta stripe at the top, a broad stripe in blue at the bottom, and a narrower deep lavender band occupying the central fifth.

Page describes the meaning of the pink, lavender, and blue flag as this: "The pink color represents sexual attraction to the same sex only (gay and lesbian). The blue represents sexual attraction to the opposite sex only (straight) and the resultant overlap color purple represents sexual attraction to both sexes (bi)." He also describes the flag's meaning in deeper terms, stating "The key to understanding the symbolism of the Bisexual pride flag is to know that the purple pixels of color blend unnoticeably into both the pink and blue, just as in the 'real world,' where bi people blend unnoticeably into both the gay/lesbian and straight communities."

LGBT Pride Flags/Bisexual

Pansexual Flag

The pansexual pride flag has been found on various Internet sites since mid-2010. It has three horizontal bars that are pink, yellow and blue. The pink band symbolizes women; the blue, men; and the yellow, those of a non-binary gender, such as agender, bigender or genderfluid.

LGBT Pride Flags/Pansexual

Polysexual Flag

Polysexual (sometimes spelled Polisexual or Plysexual) is a sexuality defined by the attraction to many genders, but not necessarily all. A polysexual person may, for example, be attracted to all genders except for men. Polysexuality should not be confused with polyamory, the capacity to be in a relationship with multiple people at once. The polysexual flag has three stripes, pink representing attraction to women, green representing attraction to non-binary people, and blue representing attraction to men.

LGBT Pride Flags/Polysexual

Asexual Flag

In August 2010, after a period of debate over having an asexual flag and how to set up a system to create one, and contacting as many asexual communities as possible, Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) announced a flag as the asexual pride flag by one of the teams involved. The final flag had been a popular candidate and had previously seen use in online forums outside of AVEN. The final vote was held on a survey system outside of AVEN where the main flag creation efforts were organized. The flag colors have been used in artwork and referenced in articles about asexuality. The flag consists of four horizontal stripes: black, grey, white, and purple from top to bottom. The black stripe represents asexuality, the grey stripe representing the grey-area between sexual and asexual, the white stripe sexuality, and the purple stripe community.


Aromantic Flag

Aromantic (often shortened to aro) means someone who does not experience romantic attraction. Romantic attraction is defined as the desire to be in a romantic relationship and/or do romantic acts with a specific person. The aromantic flag is a five striped flag with dark green and light green representing aro-spec identifies, white representing friendship, and grey and black representing the spectrum of sexual identifies in the aromantic community.

LGBT Pride Flags-Aromantic

Demisexual Flag

A demisexual person does not experience sexual attraction until they have formed a strong emotional connection with a prospective partner. The definition of "emotional bond" varies from person to person. In the demisexual flag, the black chevron represents asexuality, gray represents gray asexuality and demisexuality, white represents sexuality, and purple represents community.

LGBT Pride Flags-Demisexual

Transgender Flag

The Transgender Pride Flag was designed by transgender woman Monica Helms in 1999, which was first shown at a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona, US in 2000. It was flown from a large public flagpole in San Francisco's Castro District beginning November 19, 2012 in commemoration of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The flag represents the transgender community and consists of five horizontal stripes: two light blue, two pink, with a white stripe in the center. Helms described the meaning of the flag as follows:

"The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls. The white stripe is for people that are nonbinary, feel that they don't have a gender." The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.

Philadelphia became the first county government in the U.S. to raise the transgender pride flag in 2015. It was raised at City Hall in honor of Philadelphia's 14th Annual Trans Health Conference, and remained next to the US and City of Philadelphia flags for the entirety of the conference. Then-Mayor Michael Nutter gave a speech in honor of the trans community's acceptance in Philadelphia.


Intersex Flag

Intersex people are those who do not exhibit all the biological characteristics of male or female, or exhibit a combination of characteristics, at birth. Between 0.05% and 1.7% of the population is estimated to have intersex traits.

The intersex flag was created by Morgan Carpenter of Intersex Human Rights Australia in July 2013 to create a flag "that is not derivative, but is yet firmly grounded in meaning". The organization describes the circle as "unbroken and unornamented, symbolising wholeness and completeness, and our potentialities. We are still fighting for bodily autonomy and genital integrity, and this symbolises the right to be who and how we want to be".

LGBT Pride Flags/Intersex

Non-Binary Flag

The non-binary flag was created in 2014 by activist Kye Rowan. Each stripe color represents different types of non-binary identities: Yellow for people who identify outside of the gender binary, white for nonbinary people with multiple genders, purple for those with a mixture of both male and female genders, and black for agender individuals.

Under the non-binary umbrella are all those who identify off the gender binary. There are many different identities within this category including androgyny, genderqueerness (which includes agender, ceterosexual, gender fluid, intergender), third gender, and transgender.


Genderqueer Flag

A person who is genderqueer identitfies outside of the a cisgender identity or the gender binary. A term that came into being before "nonbinary;" the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. A way to understand this term is that "queer" is often used as an umbrella term for someone/anyone whose sexual orientation identifies outside of heterosexuality, so this term adds "gender" to signify they identify outside of cisgender/gender binary structures. This flag was created in 2011, but its creator is unknown. The stripes on the flag have the following meanings: lavender for a combination of masculinity and femininity, white for a questioning of gender or a neutral gender, green for genders which are defined outside of masculinity and femininity.

LGBT Pride Flags-Genderqueer

Genderfluid Flag

Under the transgender umbrella, genderfluid is a subgroup of the genderqueer community. The genderfluid flag consists of five stripes. This flag represents the fluctuations and flexibility of gender in gender fluid people. The first stripe is pink which represents femininity or feeling female. The second stripe is white, representing the lack of gender. The third stripe is purple and represents a combination of masculinity and femininity including various degrees of androgyny. The fourth stripe is black and represents all other gender, third genders, and pangender. The final stripe is blue and represents masculinity or feeling male. Various social media users are attributed with creating this flag.

LGBT Pride Flags/Genderfluid

Agender Flag

Originally created in 2014 by an artist named Salem, the agender flag represents those who do not identify as having a gender. The agender flag consists of a mirrored design of seven stripes. From top to bottom they are: black, grey, white, light green, white, grey, and black. The stripes have the following meanings: black to represent a complete absence of gender, white to also represent this absence, grey to include people who have a partial absence of gender, and green as the inverse of purple. Purple is often used to represent a combination of genders—so inverting it represents a negation of that concept. Agender people can lean towards identifying as male or female as part of their agender identity. This has leant itself to a few variations on the agender flag: for example, the agender boy (replacing the grey stripes with light blue) and agender girl (replacing the grey stripes with light pink) flags.

LGBT Pride Flags-Agender

Black Triangle

The black triangle was originally used in Nazi concentration camps to primarily markpeople who were deemed asocial elements and work-shy, including the following:

  • Roma and Sinti - Female Romani were still deemed asocials as they were stereotyped as petty criminals (prostitutes, kidnappers and fortune tellers).
  • Mentally ill and mentally disabled
  • Alcoholics and drug addicts
  • Vagrants and beggars
  • Pacifists and conscription resisters
  • Prostitutes
  • Lesbians

This is an example of how individuals who are LGBTQIA+ have been connected to criminal acts, mental illness, sex work, and addiction.

Similar to the pink triangle, the black triangle was originally used to identify women in the Nazis concentration camps who were deemed homosexual and has now been reclaimed by the Lesbian community as a symbol of Pride.


In 1970, a lowercase lambda was chosen by Tom Doerr as the symbol of the New York chapter of the Gay Activists Alliance. The lambda symbol became associated with Gay Liberation and recognized as an LGBT symbol for some time afterwards, being used as such by the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh, the gay rights organization Lambda Legal, and the Lambda Literary Foundation, among others. Because of its official adoption by the GAA, the lower case Greek letter lambda became a way for the gay community to identify each other. The reasoning was that the lambda would easily be mistaken for a college fraternity symbol and ignored by most people.

Pink Triangle

The pink triangle was originally used in Nazi concentration camps to primarily mark homosexual men and those identified as such (e.g., bisexual men and trans women), as well as sexual offenders including rapists, pedophiles and zoophiles. This is an example of how the individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ have been connected to these criminal acts. The pink triangle is used by individuals in the community as a reclamation of a oppressive symbol, and now serves for some as a a gay pride and gay rights symbol.

Human Rights Campaign

As America's largest gay and lesbian organization, the Human Rights Campaign provides a national voice on gay and lesbian issues. The Human Rights Campaign effectively lobbies Congress; mobilizes grassroots action in diverse communities; invests strategically to elect a fair-minded Congress; and increases public understanding through innovative education and communication strategies.

HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity, to ensure that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

Transgender Icon

Depicts a circle with an arrow projecting from the top-right, as per the male symbol, a cross projecting from the bottom, as per the female symbol, and with an additional striked arrow (combining the female cross and male arrow) projecting from the top-left.

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