🏳️‍🌈 Terms of Endearment

The terminology for LGBTQ people can be a bit confusing. That’s because it’s always evolving. Here are some pointers from me.

Gay: Use this as an adjective. “The gay men looked fabulous” is correct. “The gays looked fabulous” is not.

Lesbian: Use as a noun or an adjective. In the past, lesbians might have referred to themselves as gay, but I haven’t seen an example of that in many years. (You might remember Ellen’s “Yep, I’m Gay” cover on Time — that was in the ‘90s.)

Homosexual: Never use, unless you’re directly quoting something. Since this term sounds clinical, anti-LGBTQ forces usually use it to make LGBTQ people sound like they have a medical condition.

Trans or transgender: Use it as an adjective (like “gay”). “Transgender people want equal rights” is correct. “Transgenders want equal rights” is not. Trans sounds better and is more commonly used today. Unless you are given explicit permission, and it’s incredibly relevant, don’t mention a trans person’s deadname (i.e., the name they had before they transitioned).

LGBT, LGBTQ, and LGBTQ+: They’re all good. I used to use LGBT, but now I’m in the LGBTQ camp. Use it as an adjective. “LGBTQ people come in all shapes and sizes” is correct. “LGBTQs come in all shapes and sizes” is not.

Gay marriage: Nope! It’s marriage. Sticking a modifier in front of it makes it sound like it’s not the same as anyone else’s marriage. If you want me to slap you hard — hard enough to leave a mark — say “Dave and Britt got gay married in 2008.”

Pronouns: If you don’t know which ones to use, just ask. Britt and I are both he/his/him.

Sexual orientation: It’s never, never, never “sexual preference,” which implies choice. This is another forbidden phrase that will earn you a slap.

Bisexual: I could go either way (ha ha ha!) on bisexual being a noun, but it’s always acceptable as an adjective. Bi is always an adjective.

What did I forget? Let me know.

Note the sign in the background (behind these two studs).