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.
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.