Gay culture is complicated at the best of times. There are so many sayings, acronyms, and terms. It’s part of what makes the community unique. Of course, you’re not expected to know them all, so we’ve put together this dictionary to help guide you through the basics.

Is there a term you’ve heard that isn’t listed, or you think should be included? Drop us a line! We’d love to include it.


Bear: A gay man who is generally larger, bearded, with plenty of body hair, and projects rugged masculinity.

Beard: The girl a gay man dates before coming out of the closet.

Bottom: The guy who is receiving anal penetration during anal sex.

Butch: A gay man who looks and acts masculine.

Drag King: A female who has developed a male character persona for the purposes of gender expression and entertainment.

Drag Queen: A male who has developed a female character persona for the purposes of gender expression and entertainment.

Femme: A male who has feminine mannerisms.

Gay: People who are attracted to the same sex.

Gender expression: Ways of conveying individualism to make a person feel comfortable, including clothing, mannerisms, and social environments. It is not an extension of gender identity.

Gender-fluid: The ability to move or fluctuate between male and female, defying conventional categorization.

Heteronormative: The beliefs of heterosexual men and women roles related to sexuality and relationships.

Heterosexual: Being sexually interested in people of the opposite gender or sex.

Homophobia: The explicit or implied belief of sexual or romantic interest of people of the same gender is abnormal, unhealthy, or wrong.

Homosexual: People who love, have relationships, and sexual experiences with people of the same sex or gender.

Intersex: Being naturally born with physical characteristics, including chromoszmes or genitals, belonging to more than one sex.

Lesbian: Females that have romantic or sexual relationships with other women.

Pansexual: Someone who has romantic or sexual relationships with people of any gender identity, expression, or sex.

Polyamorous: People who practice or are interested in having open romantic and/or intimate relationships with more than one person at a time, with the knowledge and consent of the others involved.

Queer: A term to describe multiple gender expressions or sexualities at once.

Questioning: The period of time when an individual is exploring his or her sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression.

Sexual orientation: The attraction a person has towards a particular gender or sex.

Top: The person who is penetrating during anal sex. Usually plans a dominant role.

Transgender: A person whose gender does not match the one they were assigned at birth.

Transitioning: The process when a person aligns their gender with the one that they most identify with, which may include a name change, how they dress, or undergoing medical procedures.

Transphobia: The belief that transgender people are sick or unwell, and do not deserve the equal rights and freedoms as others.

Versatile: A person who will both top or bottom, willing to assume either a dominate or submissive sexual role.