* LGBTIQA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer or Questioning, Asexual or Agender, Plus. The plus represents anyone whose identity is not represented by the previous labels)
For those who are new or living ‘outside’ the LGBTIQA+ community, the labels and language can feel a little confusing or difficult to grasp. It’s no different from anything else that is new in your life. It takes a bit of time to learn, become familiar, comfortable and confident.
Today we’ll explore a little about labels that are used for and by individuals in the LGBTIQA+ community. I was flicking through Instagram recently and I discovered some labels I was not aware of. This is not uncommon for me and I imagine it’s not for you either. I am excited that people are becoming more and more comfortable to use language to express themselves, however, feels comfortable for them. I love the fact that they’re not feeling locked into the historical labels of the four letters, LGBT. Individuals can be creative and find the language that feels right and it’s up to the rest of us to simply learn what that means for them.
Some people will choose to express themselves, their sexuality and their gender identity through the use of labels, however, others will choose not to use labels at all. Labels are not necessary, they are a choice and each individual makes the choice of whether or not it feels right to them. They can be useful sometimes in order to help express or explain something about yourself. I.e. If a person identifies as male and is attracted to men, it might feel easier for them to simply say they are gay, rather than give a full explanation. However, it is also important that everyone is free to express themselves however feels comfortable for them.
For many people, it’s not comfortable to use a label at all. Labels can feel restrictive and controlling. At the end of the day, we are all human beings and we shouldn’t feel like we have to be confined and defined by particular labels. It is also challenging for some people to identify with particular labels, which leads me to the labels I recently learnt.
Gyno sexual – attraction to women or femininity. (gyno comes from the Greek word woman)
Android sexual – attraction to men or masculinity. (android comes from the Greek word man)
For people who want to use a label to express their sexuality, these two labels can be helpful. They allow people who are attracted to females/femininity or males/masculinity to express their sexuality clearly, regardless of their gender identity. It might be helpful for those whose gender identity is outside the binary or those who simply don’t want to express their gender identity, in order to portray their sexuality.
These are just two labels used by individuals within the LGBTIQA+ community and of course, there are many more. If you would like to learn about more you can click HERE to let me know and I can send you my Labels and Terminology list.
I want to reassure you that you absolutely do not need to know all of the labels and their meanings to be a loving, supportive ally. All you need to know is what a person tells you and be open and respectful. Do they identify with a label/labels, or would they prefer not to use labels for themselves? If they do, what label/labels do they prefer? And most importantly, what does that label mean to them? There may be variations for people and given it is a word they are using to describe themselves it is up to them.
If you are unsure, you can ask what this means to them, however, be mindful about the reasons and the circumstances you are asking. For example, is it a personal question? Do you feel it might be better to get clarity from them in a more private setting? Do you actually need clarification? Sometimes we can ask questions simply to satisfy our curiosity, however, this is not always the most respectful approach. Always check yourself, “why do I want to know?”
The moral of this story is always be respectful and open to what a person explains about themselves. If you are unsure, ask. Avoid arguing with people about their identity. Understand that labels and their meanings are a personal preference. And you don’t need to know them all, simply listen with an open mind and gain clarity if you need to.
For more LGBTQA+ information or support click HERE.
To request a copy of my ‘Glossary of Labels & Terms’ click HERE