Allosexual, Demisexual, Bicurious — & Other Sexualities You Need To Know

When we think about sexual orientation, what probably comes to mind for most people are the three listed in the well-known acronym: LGBTQ+. Those five letters stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. (Keep in mind that transgender is a gender identity, not a sexual orientation. Someone can be both transgender and straight, or transgender and bisexual, for example.)

The "+" encompasses those who aren't straight but aren't covered by those five letters, either — for example, asexual, pansexual, or questioning. If you're a little confused by this, it's understandable. LGBTQ+ representation in the media is hardly stellar, and when it's there, it's often limited to cisgender gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters. According to GLAAD, in 2017, only 12.8% of major studio movies showed any LGBTQ characters. Of the few that did, 64% showed gay men, 36% showed lesbian women, and 14% showed bisexual women or men — and these characters were all cisgender. Zero major studio releases showed any transgender characters.

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There are so many ways someone can identify their sexual orientation — and it's time that we start talking about them, too. Ahead, we've compiled definitions for some of these terms. Keep in mind that this isn't a be-all-end-all list, and we'll be regularly updating this story with new definitions. After all, language around sexual orientation is always evolving.

Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Sexual Orientation/Sexuality



Describes a person's enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender people may be straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer. For example, a transgender woman who is attracted solely to men would typically identify as a straight woman.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Gay



The adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attractions are to people of the same gender (e.g., gay man, gay people). Sometimes lesbian is the preferred term for women. Avoid identifying gay people as "homosexuals," an outdated term considered derogatory and offensive to many lesbian and gay people.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Lesbian



A woman whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay or as gay women. Avoid identifying lesbians as "homosexuals," a derogatory term.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Bisexual, Bi



A person who has the capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attractions to those of the same gender or to those of another gender. People may experience this attraction in differing ways and degrees over their lifetime. Bisexual people need not have had specific sexual experiences to be bisexual; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual.
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Pansexual, Pan



A person who has the capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, or emotional attractions to any person, regardless of gender identity. Pansexual people need not have had specific sexual experiences to be pansexual; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as pansexual.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Queer



An adjective used by some people, particularly younger people, whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual (e.g. queer person, queer woman). Sometimes, for those who only identify as queer, the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations they feel don't apply to them. But many people identify as both queer and another sexual orientation (e.g. queer and a lesbian). Once considered a pejorative term, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBTQ+ people to describe themselves; however, it is not a universally accepted term, even within the LGBTQ+ community.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

LGBTQ+



Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as others who do not identify as straight. Sometimes, when the Q is seen at the end of LGBT, it can also mean questioning. LGBT and/or GLBT are also often used, as are LGBTI and LGBTQIA (with the I standing for intersex and the A for asexual).
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Asexual



An adjective used to describe people who do not experience sexual attraction (e.g., asexual person).

Allosexual



An adjective used to describe people who do experience sexual attraction and are not asexual (e.g., allosexual person).
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Aromantic



An adjective used to describe people who do not experience romantic attraction (e.g., aromantic person).
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Heterosexual



An adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attraction is to people of the opposite gender. Also straight.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Homosexual



An outdated clinical term considered derogatory and offensive.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Coming out



A lifelong process of self-acceptance. People forge a LGBTQ+ identity first to themselves, and then they may reveal it to others. Publicly sharing one's identity may or may not be part of coming out.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Out



A person who self-identifies as LGBTQ+ in their personal, public, and/or professional lives. Preferred to openly gay.
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Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Closeted



Describes a person who is not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. It's better to simply refer to someone as "not out" about being LGBTQ+. Some individuals may be out to some people in their life, but not out to others due to fear of rejection, harassment, violence, losing one's job, or other concerns.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Androsexual/Androphilic



Being primarily sexually, aesthetically, and/or romantically attracted to masculinity.

Bicurious



Similar to questioning, people might say they're bicurious if they're exploring whether or not they’re attracted to people of the same gender as well as people of another gender.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Demiromantic



People who do not experience romantic attraction until a strong emotional or sexual connection is formed with a partner.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Demisexual



People on the asexual spectrum who do experience some sexual attraction, but only in certain situations, like after they’ve formed a strong emotional or romantic connection with a partner.
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Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Dyke



Formerly and sometimes still considered a derogatory word to describe queer women. Some women have taken back the word, however, and use it for themselves. Do not call someone a dyke unless you know that they have reclaimed the word.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Faggot



Formerly and sometimes still considered a derogatory word to describe queer men. Some men have reclaimed the word, but it should never be used to describe someone unless you know they’ve taken it back for themself.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Gynesexual/gynephilic



Being primarily sexually, aesthetically, and/or romantically attracted to femininity.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Polyamorous



Describes people who have consensual relationships that involve multiple partners. Polyamorous people talk openly with their partners about having or having the desire to have sexual and/or emotional relationships with multiple people and often set ground rules for their relationships. Polyamorous people can be in relationships with monogamous people.
Designed by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.

Skoliosexual



Being primarily sexually, romantically, and/or aesthetically attracted to genderqueer, transgender, and/or non-binary people.
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