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Safe Zone Terminology  and  Symbols

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Ally - 
Someone who is a friend, advocate, and/or activist for LGBTQQAAIP community. A heterosexual ally is also someone who confronts heterosexism in themselves and others. The term ally is also generally used for any member of a dominant group who is a friend, advocate or activist for people in an oppressed group. 

Androgynous - Term used to describe an individual whose gender expression and/or identity may be neither distinctly “female” nor “male,” usually based on appearance.

Asexual - Asexual orientation is generally characterized by not feeling sexual attraction or a desire for partnered sexuality. Asexuality is distinct from celibacy, which is the deliberate abstention from sexual activity. Some asexual people do have sex. There are many diverse ways of being asexual.

 - is a slang term that refers to members of a subculture in the gay and bisexual male communities. Bears are commonly, but not always heavy-set men and are often characterized as having hairy bodies and facial hair. Bears are almost always gay or bisexual men. Increasingly, transgender men and those who shun labels for gender and sexuality are also included within bear communities.

Biphobia - The fear, hatred, or intolerance of bisexual people.

Bisexual - Refers to persons who are physically, emotionally, sexually, and relationally attracted to either sex.

Cisgender -
 A person whose gender identity and expression matches the gender typically associated with their biological sex. For example: a female who identifies as a woman.

Coming Out - A short version of the phrase “coming out of the closet” which is a metaphor for disclosing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity to others or to one’s self.

Cross Dresser (CD) - The most neutral word to describe a person who dresses, at least partially or part of the time and for any number of reasons, in clothing associated with another gender within a particular society. Carries no implications of “usual” gender appearance, or sexual orientation. Has replaced “transvestite,” which is outdated, problematic, and generally offensive, since it was historically used to diagnose medical/mental health disorders. 

Cub - Men who identify with bear culture, and who are generally smaller or younger than bears. 

Down Low -
 Pop-culture term used to describe men who identify as heterosexual but engage in sexual activity with other men. Often these men are in committed sexual relationships or marriages with a female partner. This term is almost exclusively used to describe men of color.

Drag Queen/Drag King - Used by people who present socially in clothing, name, and/or pronouns that differs from their everyday gender, usually for enjoyment, entertainment, and/or self-expression. Drag queens typically have everyday lives as men. Drag kings typically live as women and/or butches when not performing. Drag shows are popular in some gay, lesbian, and bisexual environments. Unless they are drag performers, most transgender people would be offended by being confused with drag queens or drag kings.

Dyke - A negative term predominantly associated with individuals who identify as Lesbian. The term often refers to an individual who is perceived to be hyper masculine (also referred to as a “Bull-Dyke”). Though the term is predominantly seen as pejorative some groups have co-opted the word as a source of empowerment (e.g. “Dykes on Bikes”).

Faggot -
 A negative term predominantly associated with gay men. The term often refers to an individual who is perceived to be hyper feminine, implying weakness. The term is originally derived from the Latin word meaning “bundle of sticks” which was used to burn witches at the stake. The word has grown in modern vernacular to also mean “stupid, silly, feminine, lame, weird, or different.” It is not uncommon to hear individuals use this term and not specifically use it as a derogatory term for gay men.

Gay -
 Usually refers to men who have romantic and/or sexual feelings, attractions, and/or relationships with other men. Some women may also identify themselves as gay.

Gender Expression - Refers to how an individual expresses their socially constructed gender. This may refer to how an individual dresses, their general appearance, the way they speak, and the way they carry themselves. Gender expression is not always correlated to an individuals’ gender identity or gender role.

Gender Identity - An internalized realization of one’s gender and may not be manifested in their outward appearance (gender expression) or their place in society (gender role). It is important to note that an individual’s gender identity is completely separate from their sexual orientation or sexual preference.  Since gender is a social construct, an individual may have a self-perception of their gender that is different or the same as their biological sex.

Gender Neutral - This term is used to describe facilities that any individual can use regardless of their gender (e.g. gender neutral bathrooms). This term can also be used to describe an individual who does not subscribe to any socially constructed gender (sometimes referred to as “Gender Queer”).

Gender Non-Conforming - A person who is, or is perceived to have gender characteristics that do not conform to traditional or societal expectations.

Gender/Sexual Reassignment Surgery – Refers to surgical procedures to transition an individual from one biological sex to another. This is often paired with hormone replacement and gender therapy, although these are not always required. There is no one surgery that a transgender individual undergoes to reach the desired biological sex; some individuals choose not to have surgery at all. Some common surgeries are: vaginoplasty, breast augmentation, and voice feminization surgery for transwomen, and 'top' surgery (mastectomy), or 'bottom' surgery (metoidioplasty or phalloplasty) for transmen. 

Gender Role - A societal expectation of how an individual should act, think, and/or feel based upon an assigned gender based on the current binary biological sex system.

Hate Crime -
 Whoever, willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability of any person (See Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act).

Heterosexual - A person who has romantic and sexual feelings, attractions, and/or relationships with someone considered to be the opposite gender. In our section that discusses gender you will read about how gender is not a binary concept for all people. The majority of people in U.S. culture identifies two genders, men and women and uses the term opposite sex to differentiate them.

Heterosexism - The societal/cultural, institutional, and individual beliefs and practices that privilege heterosexuals and subordinate and denigrate LGBTQ people. The critical element that differentiates heterosexism (or any other ism) from prejudice and discrimination is the use of institutional power and authority to support prejudices and enforce discriminatory behaviors in systematic ways with far reaching outcomes and effects.

Homophobia - The fear, hatred, or intolerance of people who identify or are perceived to be lesbians or gay men, including the fear of being seen as lesbian or gay yourself. Homophobic behavior can range from telling jokes about lesbians and gay men, to verbal abuse, to acts of physical violence.

Intersex - 
People who naturally (that is, without any medical interventions) develop primary and/or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit neatly into society’s definitions of male or female. Many visibly intersex babies/children are surgically altered by doctors to make their sex characteristics conform to societal binary norm expectations. Intersex people are relatively common, although society’s denial of their existence has allowed very little room for intersex issues to be discussed publicly. Has replaced “hermaphrodite,” which is inaccurate, outdated, problematic, and generally offensive, since it means “having both sexes” and this is not necessarily true, as there are at least 16 different ways to be intersex.

In the Life - Often used by communities of color to denote inclusion in the LGBTQ communities.

Kinsey Scale -
 Alfred Kinsey, a renowned sociologist, described a spectrum on a scale of 0-6 to describe the amount of sexual desire within an individual. 0- Completely Heterosexual – 6: Completely Homosexual. In his 1948 work Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. The Kinsey Scale is often used to dissect the bisexual community and describe the differences between sexual orientation and sexual preference.

Lesbian -
 Refers to women who are physically, emotionally, sexually, and relationally attracted to other women. The term Lesbian is derived from the name of the Greek Island of Lesbos, where the poet Sappho ran a school for women in 400 B.C. The Greek mythology surrounding the Isle of Lesbos states that its female inhabitants loved one another and did not have any male lovers.

LGBTQQAAIP - An acronym used to refer to all sexual minorities:  Lesbian, Gay/Gender Neutral/Gender Queer, Bisexual/Bigendered, Transgender/Transvestite/Transsexual, Questioning/Queer, Allies/Androgynous/Asexual/Intersex and Pansexual.

Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act - 
Passed on October 22, 2009, and signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, as a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010. Conceived as a positive response to the murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., authorized the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute certain bias-motivated crimes based on the victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

Men Loving Men (MLM) - Commonly used by communities of color to denote the attraction of men to men.

Men Who Have Sex with Men - The term “men who have sex with men” is used primarily in the health care field to classify men who identify as heterosexual, but engage in sexual activity with other men. The Center for Disease Control primarily uses this term when reporting the number of individuals with HIV/AIDS. Men described to be on the “Down Low” would be an example of this population.

Otter -
 A gay man who is very hairy all over his body, but is smaller in frame and weighs considerably less than a bear. (Urban Dictionary)

Outing - The act of revealing someone’s gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender identity without permission.

Pansexual, Omnisexual, and Pomosexual -
 (postmodern sexuality): Sometimes substitute terms for bisexual that rather than referring to both or ―Bi gender attraction, refer to all or ―Omni gender attraction, and are used mainly by those who wish to express acceptance of all gender possibilities including transgender and intersex people, not just two. 

Queer -
 Originally used as a pejorative term to refer to gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals. The term implied that these individuals were unnatural, unusual, or freakish. In more recent years the term “queer” has been reclaimed as a source of empowerment and pride. The term is also widely used by individuals who do not wish to use what they call “restrictive labels” such as “Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual.” Therefore the more recent use of the term “queer” is to describe someone who does not subscribe to social norms.

Questioning - The process of considering or exploring one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Sex -
 A medical term referring to genetic, biological, hormonal, and/or physical characteristics (including genitalia) which are used to classify an individual as male, female, or intersex.

Sexual Behavior - Refers to an individual’s sexual activities or actions (what a person does sexually). Though often an individual’s sexual orientation is in line with their sexual behavior, it is not always the case.

Sexual Minority - An all-inclusive, politically-oriented term referring to individuals who identify with a minority sexual orientation or gender expression/gender identity.

Sexual Preference - This term refers to an individual’s choice in regards to attraction. Sexual preference can be based on gender/sex, physical appearance (height, weight, race, ethnicity), or emotional connection. It is important to note that sexual preference denotes a “choice” and has a negative connotation when used to describe the LGBTQ population.

Straight - Pop-culture term used to refer to individuals who identify as a heterosexual, meaning having a sexual, emotional, physical and relational attraction to individuals of the “opposite” gender/sex. The term “straight” often has a negative connotation within the LGBTQQAAI population, because it suggested that non-heterosexual individuals are “crooked” or “unnatural”.

Transgender -
 An umbrella term for individuals who blur the lines of traditional gender expression. Transgender individuals recognize the social construct of their genders and thus do not fit neatly within societally-prescribed gender roles as determined by biological sex.

Transvestite - An historical and now outdated umbrella term which refers to people who wear the clothing of the “opposite” gender. These individuals can be transgender, transsexual, cross-dressers, Drag performers, or individuals who express their gender in a unique way. (Cross Dresser current terminology)

- Any bear that is aggressive toward other men is called a wolf. These are usually hyper masculine men who in social groups are seen as the leader of the pack.

Women Loving Women (WLW) - Commonly used by communities of color to denote the attraction of women to women. 

Ze -
 The most common spelling for gender-neutral pronouns. Zie is subjective (replaces he or she) and Hir is possessive and objective (replaces his or her).

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| AB | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Terminology

Asexual Pride Flag

Asexual Community -
The pride flag of the Asexual community. 

Asexual Symbol
Asexual Symbol - 'Ace' is a common slang term for asexual individuals, therefore the spade symbol was adopted from the playing card ace of sapdes to represent the asexual community.



Bear Community – The pride flag of the Bear community.

Bisexual Pride Flag

Bisexual Community -  The pride flag of the Bisexual community. 

Black triangle

Black Triangle – Also, used by the Nazis in Germany. Used to represent lesbian women as "political deviants" since they didn't acknowledge women loving women.

 blue and pink
Blue and Pink Triangle - Bisexual pride symbol. 


The Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
 - As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC works for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights.



Lambda Symbol - The Greek lambda symbol has been used by the LGBTQQIA community as a symbol of pride.

Pansexual Symbol
Pansexual Symbol - Signifying awareness and support for the pansexual community. 


Pink Triangle - Comes from World War II when thousands of gay men and men perceived to be gay were condemned to Nazi concentration camps and labeled with pink triangles, similar to the way in which Jews were forced to wear the yellow Star of David. Displayed with the point down, the pink triangle has been reclaimed as a symbol of pride and remembrance and can often be found in gay establishments and organizations.



Rainbow Flag - Displayed with the red stripe at the tip, the rainbow flag was designed by Gilbert Baker in San Francisco in 1979 to celebrate the diversity of the lesbian and gay community. It is now recognized by the International Congress of Flag Makers as a symbol of gay and lesbian pride. The rainbow colors have been marketed in many different ways and the rainbow “flag” may be seen in jewelry or other trinkets.


 SafeZone Logo
Safe Zone - Is representing a "safe space" where one can feel free to talk about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc. or question without fear of criticism or hatred.  It is a place where one can feel not only support, but affirm.  It is a place where individuals are not only accepted, but valued.



Transgender Symbol - A symbol signifying transgender awareness and support.

  Trans flag

 Transgender Community - The pride flag of the Transgender community.

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