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Glossary

Use this glossary to find out more words used in (and yes, sometimes about) the queer community.

Gay

Being gay means being physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually attracted to the person of the same sex. The word gay”was thought to have originated from the first-ever recorded gay rights action known as the Stonewall riots. The word gay is a shorter version named after a banner “Good As You” during the protest! The term is used for both men and women.

Lesbian

The term “lesbian” is used to describe a woman who is physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually attracted to other women.

Bisexual

The term “bisexual” is use for men and women who are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually attracted to both sexes. Sexuality is a continuum, and how one places themselves on the continuum is unique to each individual.

Transgender

The term transgender is an umbrella term for gender diversity. It encompasses individuals who were born in a physical body of the opposite sex to the feelings, emotions, mental and spiritual state that they are. Some individuals use the terms MTF (male-to-female) and FTM (female-to-male) to describe this. They may go through a transition, deciding to change their physical body to match their inner beings. Gender identity should not be confused with sexual orientation, as anyone of any gender identity may identify as any sexual orientation.

Fa’afafine

A Samoan term which literally means “like a woman”. The term is uses by MTF (male-to-female) transgender women, especially in Pasifika.

Takataapui

A Maori term that translates to: “intimate friends of the same sex”. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, takataapui, fa’afafine and transgender people who are Maori uses the term with pride.

Queer

A reclaimed word that represents sexuality and gender diversity. We use it to encompass lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, fa'afafine, and takataapui identities, as well as everyone in between and not sure. This word is used by many people, but it is also appreciated that it is not the preferred term for everybody.

Drag Queen

Men who dress up as women purely for entertainment purposes. Often accompany by “high-camp” attitudes and outrageous but glamourous dresses, these ladies are no doubt some of the most colourful beings in the queer community.

Drag King

The term is used to describe women who dress up as men purely for entertainment purposes.

Transvestite

A term used to describe behaviour of a straight man who dresses in women’s garments for their personal pleasure. This sometimes involves sexual expression.

Butch

A term used to describe masculine identities, often refering to lesbian women.

Camp

Exaggerated ‘over-the-top’ gestures, styles and emotions.

Closet

Not revealing one's sexual orientation to anyone. “He’s in the closet” = nobody knows he is gay.

Coming-Out

The acts of telling someone (or admitting to yourself) that you are queer. Coming-out is a never-ending process because we are always meeting new people.

Cross-Dressers

A person who dresses in the clothing of the opposite sex. Many people describe themselves as cross-dressers rather than transvestite as they do not derive sexual satisfaction from the dressing. They carry out activity usually to express their femininity.

Dental Dam

A sheath of rubber, which is spread over the vagina / the anus for safe sex.

Family

A queer person. "Is she family?" in this context “Is she queer?”. The queer community as an alternative family.

Femme

A man or woman, acting (more or less) within ‘traditional’ female gender norms. Sometimes used for feminine gay man.

Flaming

Flamboyantly effeminate, busy.

Gay Bashers

People who assault (verbally or physically) others because they are queer. See ‘Homophobia’.

Gaydar

A modification of the word ‘radar’, - the ability to sense that an individual is queer. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Instinct can be a powerful tool, it can also get you in trouble, use with caution!

Gender

A set of cultural interpretations based on the biological differences between male and female.

Heterosexual

A person who is attracted to people of the opposite sex: men who are attracted to women, and women who are attracted to men.

HIV+ (positive)

A person is HIV+ if s/he has been tested for and diagnosed as carrying the HIV disease

HIV- (negative)

A person is HIV- if s/he has been tested for and not diagnosed as carrying the HIV disease

HIV disease

Human Immuno-deficiency Disease. Characterized by a gradual deterioration of immune function. During the course of infection, crucial immune cells called CD4+ T cells are disabled and killed, and their numbers progressively decline. CD4+ T cells play a crucial role in the immune response, preventing and dealing with infections and disease, signaling other cells in the immune system to perform their special functions.

Homophobia

A term used to describe extreme, irrational negative attitudes, feelings, and beliefs about homosexuality. Ranging from uncomfortable feelings towards someone who is queer to outright hatred and violence. The Human Rights Act, 1993 protects queer people and the associates of queer people from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

What we mean when we say queer

A reclaimed word that represents sexuality and gender diversity. We use it to encompass lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, fa'afafine, and takataapui identities, as well as everyone in between and not sure. This word is used by many people, but it is also appreciated that it is not the preferred term for everybody.

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