The Ultimate LGBT Glossary: all your questions answered

Written by JosephNovember 29, 2017

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Like any community, the LGBT world is full of terminology, phrases, slang, acronyms and abbreviations – and it’s not always obvious what something means at first glance. That’s where the PinkNews Ultimate LGBT Glossary comes in. We’ve attempted to gather simple definitions for every essential LGBT+ term right here in one place. So bookmark it […]

Like any community, the LGBT world is full of terminology, phrases, slang, acronyms and abbreviations – and it’s not always obvious what something means at first glance.

That’s where the PinkNews Ultimate LGBT Glossary comes in. We’ve attempted to gather simple definitions for every essential LGBT+ term right here in one place. So bookmark it now. 
In some cases, we’ve offered more in-depth explainers, so if you’re interested, click the terms in pink for a little more.
If there’s something we’ve missed out, pop a note in the comments box and we’ll get that sorted.


A person who doesn’t identify as having any gender – male, female or otherwise.
Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) – a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The AIDS stage of illness is defined either by having a CD4+ T cell count below 200 cells per µL or experiencing specific diseases in association with an HIV infection, like pneumocystis pneumonia, cachexia (“wasting syndrome”) and oesophagal candidiasis.
AIDS crisis or AIDS epidemic
Beginning in 1981, the period of several years over which HIV/AIDS spread rapidly among the gay community. Thousands of gay people lost their lives to AIDS-related illness during the 1980s, at a time when the condition was under-researched and considered untreatable.
A person who has sexual interest directed at people other than themselves, often used in asexual discourse. Not to be confused with the Canadian French allosexuel – which means LGBT, or trans or non-heterosexual.
A person who does not identify with a community or group (such as a subset of the LGBTcommunity) but publicly supports that group.
Anal aka Anal sex
Sexual activity involving the penetration of the anus. Often used to described anal penetration with the penis with partners of any sex.
A person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others. Not to be confused with asexual.
Assigned sex
The sex with which a person is assigned at birth, which usually corresponds to the gender identity you were raised with or assumed to have. Preferred by many in the trans community to terms like “genetic”, “biological” or “birth” gender, which suggest that a trans person’s gender identity is less valid than a cis person’s.
A person who has limited or no sexual feelings or desires.


Baby Gay
A gay, lesbian or bisexual person who has recently come to identify as such, or is newly out.
BattyBatty boy or Batty man
A West Indian slur for a gay man.
Bareback aka BB
Sexual activity, especially sexual penetration, without the use of a condom. Usually referring to anal sex between men.
In gay circles, a man who is hairy and/or has facial hair, and a cuddly body. Contrasted with twink. See also: Grindr Tribes
A person of a different sex who is used by a gay person – usually a man – as a fake heterosexual partner to hide their sexuality.
A person who experiences exactly two genders. These gender identities can be experienced either simultaneously or not. The two identities can be male and female, but could also include non-binary gender identities.
Tight wrapping of the chest with special clothes to minimise the size or appearance of breasts. Bandages, elastic and cloth can also be used, but can be damaging.
Birth gender
Sometimes used by transgender people to refer to their gender prior to transitioning.
A person who is romantically or sexually attracted to people of multiple genders.
Prejudice or discrimination against bisexual people.
Bi erasure
The tendency to ignore the existence of bisexual people or bisexuality itself in society.
Blood ban
A policy implemented in many countries during the AIDS crisis that specifically prevents men who have sex with men from donating blood, due to risk of HIV contamination. Often criticised by campaigners who contend that it does not reflect advances in modern screening technology. Some countries have relaxed the policy in recent years to introduce a deferral period that allows gay men to donate blood if they abstain from sex for a period of time, most commonly one year.
During gay anal sex, the person who “receives” or is penetrated. More broadly it can refer to a more passive partner – either during sex or in reference to a wider relationship. Contrasts with the top.
Bottom surgery
Gender confirmation surgery relating to the bottom of the body, specifically the genitals. Previously called genital reassignment surgery or genital reconstruction surgery.
Bugger or Buggery
Usually meaning anal sex or someone who has anal sex. Sometimes a legal term, used at varying times and in various jurisdictions to mean either anal or oral sex by a man with a man or a woman, or vaginal intercourse by a person with an animal.
Bull Dyke
A sometimes offensive term to describe a masculine lesbian.
A lesbian person whose appearance and behaviour are seen as traditionally masculine.


A term used to describe someone with an eccentric, theatrical and effeminate manner. Often used to describe flamboyant gay men.
Sexual encounters fuelled by drugs, often methamphetamine (speed) or mephedrone (M-CAT). Often referring to group sex, typically in gay or bisexual circles.
Cis aka Cisgender
A person whose gender identity corresponds with their assigned sex. Contrasting with trans.
A person who is both cisgender and heterosexual.
Closet or closeted
A gay or bisexual person who has not yet come out is said to be “in the closet”. Often used offensively.
Coming out
When an LGBT person either identifies or comes to accept their own sexual orientation or gender identity, or the process of telling other people about their orientation or identity. Contrast with outing.
Conversion Therapy
Attempts to change people’s sexual orientation or gender identity in order to make them heterosexual or cisgender. Disavowed and considered an abusive practise by every global medical authority, but still often practised by faith groups and unlicensed therapists.
Gay men engaging in sex acts in a public toilet.
Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994)
The UK Act of Parliament that lowered the age of consent for gay sex from 21 to 18 – still two years older than heterosexual sex.
Wearing clothes typically associated with another sex, for any reason.

Looking for sex partners in public places, typically by gay men.
Read more at: PinkNews.

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