How to talk about lesbians and gays

Discrimination starts with language. Often wrong words are not even malicious intent. Because the tolerance towards homosexuals has become great in our society.

Legally, gays and lesbians are (almost) equal. But they are still discriminated against. The insults often lie in the way of expression. Sometimes they happen consciously, sometimes unconsciously.

In its brochure “Schöner schreiben über Lesben und Schwule”, the Association of Lesbian and Gay Journalists has compiled the right terms and phrases that are either preferred or desired by homosexuals. NWZonline has selected the most important tips and traps as an example.

I can do that:
gay”, “lesbian”, “homosexual”: this is how the sexual identity of gays and lesbians is described.

LGBT: This abbreviation is used for lesbians, gays (“gay”), bisexuals and transgenders. Critics see this as a general term for transgender, transsexual and transidentities, but many “LGBT” use the term.

“He came out.” Coming-out and outing is not the same. “Coming-out” means that someone informs their environment of their sexual orientation in a self-determined way. So it’s, “He or she came out.” In “Outing”, a stranger makes public that he or she is gay or lesbian. Then you say, “He or she was outed.”

I can’t do that:
Homosexuals and lesbians”: The word “homosexuals” refers to gays and lesbians. But often – and this is wrong – it is only used for gays.

confessing lesbian”, “lesbian”, “convinced lesbian”: one should refrain from these formulations – because homosexuality is not a crime, not a sin and also not a faith to which one confesses. “A convinced lesbian” is an insult to many lesbians. Reason: The term means that their sexual orientation can still be reversed, i.e. they can “convert”. “Lesbian” is often even well-intentioned. However, the term comes from medicine and psychiatry and describes behaviour that deviates from the norm.-

“gay milieu.” With this term gays and lesbians ask themselves where this milieu should be. In Cologne? In Oldenburg? Homosexuals exist in every milieu, in every social space.

Gay Parade”, “Shrill Parade” or similar terms for the demonstrations on Christopher Street Day: “Gay Parade” discriminates against lesbians, transsexuals and transgender people participating in the CSD. “Shrill parade” puts the goal of the CSD, equality, into the background. So it is better to talk about a demonstration.

Who’s what?
Asexuals have no interest or desire for sex. But they can still have romantic relationships.

Bisexuals have heterosexual and homosexual tendencies.

Drag Kings or Drag Queens like to dress up as the opposite sex. Drag Queens appear as fictional figures. But this does not necessarily mean that they feel that they belong to the opposite sex.

Homosexuals are lesbians or gays. They love people of the same sex.

Intersexuals cannot be clearly assigned to the female or male sex. For example, they were born with physical characteristics of both sexes.

LGBTTIQ: Abbreviation for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexuals, Transsexuals, Transgender, Intersexuals, Queer”.

Queer: general term for all sexual orientations and identities that are not heterosexual.

Transgender live as woman or man, but consciously retain the characteristics of the opposite sex. So your social sex is different from biological sex.

Transsexuals don’t identify with the sex of their birth. They let their body change with hormones or operations or at least have the need for them.

Transidentity: In contrast to “transsexuality”, the term places a stronger focus on identity. People with a transidentity feel strange in their biological body.


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