Terms You Should Know About Gay Rights


An individual who is physically, romantically, emotionally and/or spiritually attracted to men and women.

Civil Union

A voluntary union for life (or until divorce) of adult parties of the same sex; "parties to a civil union have all the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law as spouses in a marriage." Of course, civil union is illegal in many parts of the world.


Describes a person who is not open about his or her sexual orientation.

Domestic Partnership

A legal status granted to heterosexual and homosexual couples who reside in the same home, usually with less federal and local benefits than that of marriage.


More formally termed homosexual, the adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attractions are to people of the same sex. In contemporary contexts, lesbian (n.) is often a preferred term for women.


Stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning.

Hate Crimes

Crimes involving bodily injury to any person in which the victim is intentionally selected because of the actual or perceived race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability of the victim.


Sexual attraction to or sex acts between people of the opposite gender.


The attitude that heterosexuality is the only valid sexual orientation. Often takes the form of ignoring lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. For example: a feature on numerous Valentine's Day couples that omit same-sex couples.


Fear of gay men, the lifestyle and culture. Homosexuality: Sexual attraction to or sex acts between people of the same sex.

Ideology Assailants

People who commit hate crimes stem because of their negative beliefs and attitudes about homosexuality that they perceive other people in the community share. They see themselves as enforcing social morals.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender. Term often used to describe the gay community.


Inaccurate term often used by anti-gay extremists to denigrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives. As there is no one heterosexual or straight lifestyle, there is no one lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender lifestyle.


Of or related to being gay.

Openly Gay

Describes people who self-identify as lesbian or gay in their public and/or professional lives.


The act of publicly declaring (sometimes based on rumor and/or speculation) or revealing another person's sexual orientation without his or her consent. Considered inappropriate by the majority of the LGBT community.

Peer-dynamics Assailants

Tend to be adolescents; they commit assaults in an effort to prove their toughness and heterosexuality to friends.

Self-defense Assailants

Typically, people who commit hate crimes because they believe that homosexuals are sexual predators. They often say they were responding to aggressive sexual propositions.

Sexual Orientation

The scientifically accurate term for an individual's enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual orientations.

Sodomy Laws

Historically used to selectively persecute gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, the state laws often referred to as "sodomy laws" were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas (2003). "Sodomy" should never be used to describe gay, lesbian or bisexual relationships, sex or sexuality.


Generally, transgender people are individuals whose gender expression and/or gender identity differs from conventional expectations based on the physical sex they were born into.


Transvestites are men who adopt the identity of women through dress and behavior. Transvestites experience sexual pleasure from assuming the identity of the opposite sex.


Gay Life
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)