With the upcoming TriPride event in Johnson City, everyone is encouraged to come out and see the parade and participate in the fun-filled activities. For those who want to go, but aren’t sure if they should because they don’t fully understand everything about the LGBTQ community, it’s okay! Just showing support for the community is a positive step in the right direction.
For those who have questions or aren’t sure what the LGBTQ lexicons are, these terms may help understand more about gender identity and sexuality.
Gay: Used to describe homosexuality typically for men but also used to describe women. “Gay” can be used as an umbrella term for someone who is a member of the LGBTQ community without knowing specific sexuality.
Lesbian: Used to describe homosexuality for women. Note: Lesbians can be masculine or feminine, but a lesbian couple does not need to be one masculine partner/one feminine partner. A lesbian couple can be two feminine women or two masculine women.
Bisexual: Used to describe a sexuality when someone likes both men and women.
Pansexual: Used to describe a sexuality that likes men, women, transmen, transwomen and those who identify as non-binary. This sexuality is the most diverse because it includes everyone on the spectrum.
Non-binary: Used as a gender identity. This term can be the most confusing for those who know their gender — male or female — but sometimes others cannot define their gender in binary terms, one or the other, and would rather remain at a neutral gender. Some languages include a neutral gender descriptor, but English does not, so this term is what the LGBTQ community has created for themselves.
Queer: Typically used as an umbrella term, like “gay,” for someone in the LGBTQ community. This term can also be used to describe someone whose sexuality remains unknown or unlabeled. “Queer” can be a positive term, but in certain contexts it can be used as a negative slur. Please avoid the negative connotation in preference for the other terms.
Cis-gender: Someone who identifies with their biological gender and body, meaning never have transitioned to another gender or identified as another gender other than their biological determiner. This term applies to anyone inside or outside the LGBTQ community. Example: cis-man or cis-woman.
Transgender: Someone who has a gender expression differing from their assigned gender, usually the opposite of their biological sex. Note: Transgender people don’t always have to have undergone surgery to identify as transgender. Transitioning genders typically starts with gender pronouns and possibly a name change. Examples: trans-man (from female to male) or trans-woman (from male to female).
There are also slur words used against the LGBTQ community. The primary slur word for the LGBTQ community is the F-word. Though there are some in the LGBTQ community who may use that term themselves, the F-word is similar to the N-word; only those of the community may use it and no one else. “Dyke” is also inappropriate but again may be used by the LGBTQ community. An outdated term some people still use is “transsexual,” but this term is not synonymous with “transgender” and shouldn’t be used to describe a transgender person.
For those outside the LGBTQ community, it can be difficult to understand why it’s so integral to have terms and definitions to identify. For cis-gender, straight men and women, there has never been a question or stigma on heterosexuality. Representation has always existed for heterosexual couples in books, film, art, society and other cultural norms.
Now that the LGBTQ community is stepping out and voicing themselves, a new norm is emerging. The best anyone can do to help, if not advocate, is to love, support and respect the community and allow the LGBTQ community to make its mark as represented equals.