Orientation: Terms and Concepts

"The Spectrum of Sexuality" orientation chart image by Jacqui Meaghan,
from her blog "Thoughts and Rambles." 

Coming Out: Letting others (friends, family, peers, members of the public) know your romantic and/or sexual orientation is something other than the presumed default of "straight," or heteroromantic and heterosexual. Coming out is often a gradual and/or continuing process, rather than a one-time statement or event.
 

Romantic Orientation: An individual’s pattern of attraction based on the sex(es) or gender(s) with which they tend to experience romantic attraction or a desire to form romantic relationships. Romantic orientation can be fluid and can vary from sexual orientation.

Sexual Orientation:  An individual’s pattern of attraction based on the sex(es) or gender(s) with which they tend to experience sexual attraction or a desire to form sexual relationships. Sexual orientation can be fluid and can vary from romantic orientation.

 

Aromantic:  Not experiencing romantic attraction or having a desire for romantic relationships

Asexual:  Not experiencing sexual attraction or having a desire for sexual relationships

Biromantic:  Experiencing romantic attraction to people of your same sex or gender, as well as to people of at least one different sex or gender

 

Bisexual:  Experiencing sexual attraction to people of your same sex or gender, as well as to people of at least one different sex or gender

Demiromantic:  Experiencing romantic attraction only occasionally, often after first developing a strong emotional and/or intellectual bond

Demisexual:  Experiencing sexual attraction only occasionally, often after first developing a strong emotional and/or intellectual bond

Gay:  A term for people who are romantically and/or sexually attracted solely or primarily to people of their same sex or gender. Gay is a term more commonly used by or to refer to men and boys, but not exclusively so.

Grayromantic:  Only seldom experiencing romantic attraction, with or without a desire to form romantic relationships

 

Graysexual:  Only seldom experiencing sexual attraction, with or without a desire to form sexual relationships

Heteroromantic:  A person who is romantically attracted solely or primarily to people of a different sex or gender

 

Heterosexual:  A person who is sexually attracted solely or primarily to people of a different sex or gender

Homoromantic:  A person who is romantically attracted solely or primarily to people of their same sex or gender

 

Homosexual:  A person who is sexually attracted solely or primarily to people of their same sex or gender

Lesbian:  A term generally for women and girls who are romantically and/or sexually attracted solely or primarily to people of their same sex or gender
 

Panromantic:  Experiencing romantic attraction to people of multiple or all sexes or genders, or without regard to sex or gender

 

Pansexual:  Experiencing sexual attraction to people of multiple or all sexes or genders, or without regard to sex or gender

Queer:  A label or term to describe romantic, sexual, and/or gender identities other than heteroromantic, heterosexual and/or cisgender, or those that do not conform to the predominant cultural expectations. Although this term is being reclaimed by many members of the LGBTQIA+ community as both a blanket term and form of self-identification, its historical use as a slur must be noted and respected. Do not use this term to refer to others without their consent.

Questioning:  The process of exploring one’s own gender identity, gender expression, and/or romantic or sexual orientation. Some people may also use this term to name their identity within the LGBTQIA+ community.