Originally a synonym for "odd", this word became a derogatory expression for gays in the 20th Century. Even though many people still use "queer" as an anti-gay epithet, a movement emerged in the 1980s that calls itself queer. Used in this way, queer means sexually dissident, but not necessarily gay. Many gays, transsexuals, bisexuals and even heterosexuals whose sexuality doesn't fit into the cultural standard of monogamous heterosexual marriage have adopted the "queer" label.
In the 19th Century, the term that had originally meant mirthful or joyous acquired a new meaning. Female prostitutes were called (derogatorily) "gay women", and men who were considered playboys were called "gay," too. Early in the 20th Century, some American men and women adopted the word as a label for themselves, preferring it to the clinical "homosexual." The word entered broad use in the 1960s and 1970s as the media responded to gays' demands that the word replace "homosexual" in their news reports. The venerable New York Times held out, but even there, "gay" was ultimately accepted in 1989.
Just as African American leaders in the 1960s demanded to be called black, not Negro, American gay liberationists fought to be called gay since "homosexual" was the word psychiatrists used to define gays as mentally ill.
Today many women eschew the term gay, preferring lesbian because it highlights both their gender and their sexual difference. Another group objects to the term because it seems to exclude transsexuals and other non-gay sexual dissidents, and prefer to call themselves queer.
Other Variations for Gay Men: Fag, Bear
Lesbos, a rocky, mountainous island about 138 miles around, rises above the Aegean Sea, between Greece and Turkey. Once, Lesbian referred to the people who lived there, but Sappho, the island's most famous native, gave the term a new meaning. Sappho was born around 630 B.C., though no one knows exactly when, and earned a reputation as a poetess of talents so great that the ancients compared her with Homer, the most renowned poet in Ancient Greece.
Most of Sappho's work has not survived, but the remaining fragments attest to a poetry suffused with sensuality and simple pleasures, and to Sappho's own romances with the young women she admired. At the end of the 19th Century, doctors seized on the term lesbian as a label for women with Sappho's sexual inclinations, and thus introduced the term into popular use.
Other Variations for Lesbians: Dyke, Butch, Fem, Womin, Womyn (women who do not want the word "men" incorporated in to the word "women"). Drag King women who dress like men and wish to be perceived as men or perform in a nightclub.
An individual who can have personal relationships with others regardless of genetalia. In some cases, the bisexual person may be polyamorous and enjoy or prefer multiple relationships with either sex at the same time. In other cases, the bisexual may enter into a monogamous relationship with their gender preference.
Transvestite / Crossdresser
An old German scientific term that identifies a person or behavior that includes dressing in the clothes of the opposite sex. In modern days, the term Cross dresser is used and preferred. Cross dressing may be with limited articles and or in full costume. The activity may also be sparse, intermittent or regular. Those who accept cross dressing as another spectrum of human sexuality, may join cross dressing organizations, adopt a name/persona and get out frequently. Cross dressers include approximately equal participants from either gender.
A person who has chosen to "transition" from one gender to the other. The transition usually includes taking hormones to manifest the physical characteristics of the preferred gender, surgical procedures to enhance or eliminate physical characterists. The transgenderist may live part time or full time in the gender of their choice.
A person who concludes their physical gender of birth does not align with the inner self that is both native and natural. While the medical/insurance community currently uses the term transsexuals for those that have completed genital surgery, those who choose to actually live in the gender opposite their birth consider themselves transsexuals regardless of surgery. For those that need labels, they are simply pre-op, post-op or non-op.
Notes about the use of the word transgender in this document: Transgender is generally considered an umbrella term encompassing that element of the sexuality continuum that lies between male and female. It is commonly used to describe a person who transgresses gender norms or is seen as gender different. A transgender person may, or may not, live full time in a sex different from the sex that they were assigned at birth sometimes referred to as the "opposite sex". Being seen as transgender may, or may not, have anything to do with whether that person has had any sort of "sex reassignment surgery." Individuals who are seen as gender transgressive or gender different may, or may not, personally identify themselves as transgender. By using the word "transgender", we are looking for a common language, community and purpose and is not seeking to label or identify someone as transgender against their will.
An individual born with ambiguous genitals or some of each sex. The variance my external, internal or both. In the 19th century, medical professionals argued that excising the clitoris of any female would stop masturbation, epilepsy and insanity. That theory, which was thoroughly discredited by 1950, was replaced by the notion that children born with "abnormal" clitorises must be "fixed" in order to ensure they would be "normal" heterosexual girls. Today, U.S. surgeons still perform cosmetic surgery on healthy clitorises. On average, five children a day are "conformed" to arbitrary standards of "normal" size and appearance.
Homophobia plays a part in the decision to perform these surgeries. A 1994 medical paper advocating genital surgery because "parents will feel reassured when they know that their daughter can develop heterosexually just like other girls."
For the past 50 years, intersex people have been subjected to surgeries, which diminish or destroy their capacity for sexual enjoyment and their ability to express their gender identity. Recently, intersex activists have publicly denounced this practice and called on the medical community to stop performing these mutilating surgeries.
In the 1860's, Karl Maria Kertbeny coined "homosexual" in preference to "pederast," the derogatory term for men who had sex with each other that was in common use in the Germany of his time. According to Kertbeny, many homosexuals are more masculine than ordinary men and are often superior to run of the mill heterosexuals who tend, in his opinion, toward rape and mayhem because they are oversexed. Kertbeny hoped that his new word and his definition of it would help to eliminate Paragraph 175, Germany's oppressive anti-pederasty law, but the strategy didn't work. Instead, Richard von Krafft-Ebing and other doctors adopted it as a diagnosis for mental pathology.
In the 1860s, writer Karl Maria Kertbeny first invented the term homosexual, and later coined heterosexual as its opposite. The term entered the psychiatric lexicon in the 1880s and 1890s thanks to Richard von Krafft-Ebing's adoption of it in Psychopathia Sexualis. One prominent American doctor used the term for patients who would be called bisexual today, and many American laymen continued to use it that way, along with the more euphemistic "ambidextrous," well into the 1920's. In psychiatric circles, though, the term was well established by 1915 when Sigmund Freud used it in a revised edition of his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality as a synonym for "normal" sexuality, sexual desire directed toward members of the opposite sex.
The heterosexual/homosexual/bisexual/transsexual distinctions as they have been used by doctors and sexologists in the 20th Century are beginning to weaken as doctors and sex professionals share a growing awareness of the fluidity of an individual's sexuality.
More rarely, Quean. A derisive term for effeminate male homosexuals that dates to the 19th Century (possibly earlier). Like many derogatory terms, Queen is a nasty insult when used by non-gays, but in some gay circles, the word is used in an affectionate way. Still, many gays dislike being called Queens no matter who does the calling because they resent the implication of effeminacy. Thus, "that Queen" can be an insult or an expression of endearment depending on who says it and about whom it is said.
Like many slang words for homosexuals, "Queen" first acquired a sexual meaning when it was applied to loose women and prostitutes, probably in the 18th Century. As sodomy became more closely associated with effeminacy and prostitution in England, "Queen" gradually came into use for sodomites. By 1900, the word was well established in English slang.
Variation: Drag Queen. A man who dresses in female clothes ("drag") to impersonate a woman. Drag has many variations, some oriented toward the emulation of female beauty (e.g. Julian Eltinge) and others calculated to shock (e.g. Divine). Anatomical males who dress in women's clothes and look like women because they experience their true gender as female are transsexuals, not drag queens.
A slang but endearing term used to call straight women who hang out and socialize with gay men.
Today "fairy" is a nasty epithet used against gay people, but it once had a richer, more specific meaning. In New York City in the early 1900s, some men who liked to have sex with men dressed up in makeup and feminine clothes in hopes of catching a straight man for sex and sometimes worked as male prostitutes. The medical idea that both men involved in a sexual interaction must be homosexual was not as widespread as it is today, so many of the sexual partners of fairies considered themselves straight. Since the fairy played the receptive role in a sexual interaction his straight-identified partner's sense of masculinity and normality remained intact.
The Rainbow Flag, created in 1978 for San Francisco's Gay Freedom Celebration by Gilbert Baker, depicts not the shape of the rainbow, but its colors in horizontal stripes. The Rainbow Flag has been adopted as the Gay and Lesbian flag. It represents the diversity yet unity of Gays and Lesbians universally.
Pink and Black Triangle
Gay men in nazi death camps were required to wear Pink Triangles on their uniforms to identify them for special abuse. Hitler meant it as a mark of shame the LGBT community has turned it into a symbol of pride. The Pink Triangle is now used as a gay identification symbol as well as a reminder of oppression.
The Black Triangle was used to identify "socially unacceptable" women, according to the Nazis. Lesbians were included in this classification. Now, Lesbians have reclaimed the Black Triangle as our symbol in defiance of repression and discrimination.
Black and Blue Flag
Created by Tony DeBlase and first displayed in Chicago, 1989, at the Mr. Leather Contest, the Leather Pride Flag, gained quick, universal recognition as a symbol of those with leather, S|M|B|D, uniform, latex, western and other fetishes.
Gender Education Symbol
The IFGE (International Foundation for Gender Education) Logo, or Transgender Symbol, is the widely recognized symbol for or cross dressers, transvestites, transsexuals and transgenderists.