The ABCs of sexuality
By Brittney Rooney
If you ask your grandparents, they will tell you that kids were either normal or that they were queer.
“Queer” was used as a derogatory term that was offensive to anyone who did not identify as heterosexual or cis-gender.
However, it stretched beyond that to be an insult to any person who was different, specifically if they were males who were feminine or masculine females. On the playground, kids played “smear the queer,” because the last thing any kid wanted to be was queer.
Today, the rainbow community has reclaimed the title queer. It is no longer taken as hurtful, but rather truthful.
It is a word that is not gender or sexual identity specific and unites everyone under one umbrella.
It is so accepted now that it is a part of the traditional acronym. The most recent acceptable acronym is now LGBTQIA.
Now it may look like a jumble of ABCs, all meaning you aren’t straight. But here’s what they really mean.
L is the first letter, standing for lesbian. A lesbian is a person who identifies as a woman and is emotionally and physically attracted to other women.
G, for gay, is similar, but rather gay is the term for a man who is attracted to other men.
B, for bisexuality, is a sexuality that is attracted to both men and women. Because sexual orientation is often thought of as a spectrum, rather than a black and white bilateral, a person who identifies as bisexual is not necessarily attracted to men and women equally.
For this reason, Alfred Kinsey coined the term “Kinsey scale.” It is a scale that stretches from 0, meaning exclusively heterosexual, to 6, meaning exclusively homosexual. Any person who lays between 1 and 5 on the scale may identify as bisexual.
T is the next letter, which stands for transgender. A transgender person is a person who was biologically born a certain sex, but does not feel that is his or her gender.
If you think, “their hearts don’t match their parts,” you’re on the right track. The transgender community has often felt separate from the traditional LGBT community, because it deals with gender and sex rather than sexuality.
A transgender person may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, asexual, bisexual, or anything in-between, but it is completely separate from their transgender identity.
Q stands for queer. Queer is the umbrella term for any person who does not feel he or she fits the traditional heterosexual or cis-gender title.
It also gives room for these individuals to find a label he or she is comfortable with if he or she chooses.
Some however, prefer to never label his or her identity and the term queer is a way for that person to do that.
In some communities, Q also stands for questioning. This is to encompass all those individuals who are not sure where on the spectrum of gender or sexuality he or she lies and to recognize his or her struggles.
I, in the acronym, is for intersex. While this can be a biological condition where a person is born with the biological characteristics of both male and female, it is not always biological.
This term can also be used for those individuals who do not identify themselves as exclusively male or female. Those who identify as intersex often are described as “androgynous,” which recognizes that the individual prefers to live without gender-specific characteristics.
Like a transgender person, intersexuality does not correlate with sexual orientation.
Ally is the most typical explanation to the letter A. An ally is someone who does not identify as anything other than heterosexual and cis-gender, but is fully supportive of those who are.
These individuals typically fight for equal rights in the public sphere and have closer friends or family who do identify as LGBTQI, although this is not always the case.
A can also stand for asexual, which is a person who does not feel any sort of sexual attraction to others. In other words, those who do not have a sexual orientation will identity as asexual.
One term that is often very common among the LGBTQIA is pansexual. Although not in the acronym, pansexuality refers to the potential for attraction to all gender identities and biological sexes.
Often nicknamed “gender blind,” pansexuals reject the notion of the gender binary and chose partners based on personality rather than gender.
Although the acronym may seem as a device to fit each person in the community into one of seven boxes, that is not the intention.
The intention is to show each person who feels drawn to the community that he or she is welcome, with no regard to what that person identifies as.
Brittney Rooney is a copy editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.