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Lesbian Vocabulary Page

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Your Guide to GaySpeak

AC/DC Someone who is bisexual or who "swings both ways."

ALLY  Any heterosexual person who opposes heterosexism and homophobia and supports LGBT individuals and causes.

AUNTIE EM  Queer.

BEARD A person of the opposite sex who helps you to hide your true sexuality.  When you take your cousin to your best friend's wedding as your date, he is acting as your beard.

BISEXUAL A person who is equally attracted, both physically and emotionally, to men and women.

BOSTON MARRIAGE  In the 19th century, this term was used for households where two women lived together, independent of any male support. Whether these were lesbian relationships -- in the sexual sense -- is debatable and debated. The likelihood is that some were, some weren't. Today, the term "Boston marriage" is sometimes used for lesbian relationships -- two women living together -- which are not sexual.

BREEDER A derogatory term sometimes used by gay folk to refer to heterosexuals and sometimes bisexuals. 

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BUTCH 1) (n) a masculine woman, usually a lesbian 2) (adj) masculine, applied to both men and women

BABY BUTCH 1) a young butch 2) a lesbian of any age who acts or looks like a young butch

GLAMOUR BUTCH A very stylish butch woman who likes to wear things like tuxedos and silk shirts.  Think KD Lang.

SOFT BUTCH A butch woman who is less obviously masculine than the stone butch.  Many women today who identify as soft butch actually are more androgynous than butch.

STONE BUTCH A stone butch is usually but not always a very masculine appearing woman who is often mistaken for male. Originally it refers to the fact that the stone butch prefers to pleasure her woman but does not like to be pleasured.  She may also be emotionally stone (not easily expressing emotion) and/or physically stone, meaning she does not like to be touched at all.

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CAMP A form of humor popular among queers of many kinds. Camp is highly satirical, sometimes to the point of meanness.

CHAPSTICK LESBIAN A sporty or outdoorsy lesbian.

CLOSET Gays who are not public about being gay are said to be "in the closet."

CLOSET CASE A gay person who is keeping his or her sexuality a secret.

COMING OUT When a GLBT person makes his/her sexuality known to others.

CUNNILINGUS The art of making love to a woman's genitalia with your mouth and tongue.

DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS A lesbian group launched in 1955 by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. The initial emphasis of was on socialization and community, but it slowly involved itself in law reform and education.  Bilitus was a fictional contemporary of Sappho.  The organization published the newsletter The Ladder.

DILDO An often phallus-shaped device used for sexual gratification. Actually, they come in lots of shapes, from very-realistic penis-shape, to vegetables, to dolphins.

DRAG Usually refers to dressing in clothing of a person of the opposite sex or gender to oneself.

DRAG QUEEN A gay man who dresses as a woman, sometimes for pleasure, sometimes as performance art, or both.

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DYKE A lesbian.  While many may perceive the word dyke as referring to masculine or butch women, this is not the case.  Many femme women proudly refer to themselves as a dyke.  When a straight person calls you a dyke, however, it is not a compliment.

BABY DYKE A lesbian under the age of 25.

DIESEL DYKE A butch woman who may actually be a truck driver or who simply looks like one. 

GRANOLA DYKE A lesbian who is a vegetarian (not to  be confused with VAGitarian.

LEATHER DYKE A lesbian who is a member of the leather/bondage-discipline/S&M community.

PC DYKE A politically correct lesbian.

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FAG/FAGGOT Unflattering term for a gay male.  The word comes from faggot which was the piece of kindling used to light the fire when burning people at the stake.  Not a nice picture.

FAG HAG A straight woman who keeps company with gay males.

FAIRY  An extremely effeminite gay male.

FAMILY A person who is Family is GLB or T.

FEMME A feminine appearing woman, usually referring to lesbian women, or a feminine gay man.

STONE FEMME  An ultra feminine lesbian.  Generally prefers butch women and role playing.  She can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan; but she'll do it wearing Manolo Blahniks and full makeup.  She wants kids, the house with the white picket fence, and the opportunity to be a SAHM.  When she gets married, she'll be in full regalia and Mr. Butch will wear a tux.

FLAGGING Wearing a handkerchief in a specific place on one's body or clothing to indicate what type of sexual activity interests one.

FLAMING Outrageously effeminate or flamboyant.  Usually used with reference to gay men, as in he's flaming or he's a flaming faggot.

FRIEND OF DOROTHY With reference to the Wizard of Oz.  He or she is gay.

FRUIT Gay.

FTM Refers to a transexual.  Stands for Female to Male.

GAY  Codeword for homosexual.  Obviously, it is no longer a secret.

GENDER IDENTITY  How one thinks of one’s own gender. A person may identify as male, female, transgender, or a number of other definitions.

HOMOPHOBIA  Negative feelings, attitudes, actions or behaviors towards anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered, or perceived to be any of the above. Internalized homophobia is a fear of same-sex tendencies within oneself and can lead to repression. Institutionalized homophobia refers to homophobic laws, policies, and positions taken by social and governmental institutions.

IN THE LIFE  A very old expression.  Refers to being gay as in "She's in the life."

INTERSEX  A person born with unclear or mixed genitalia.  These persons used to be referred to as hermaphrodites.  For more information, visit the Intersex Society of America web site.

KIKI An older, derogatory term from the bar culture which means a lesbian who cannot decide if she is butch or femme.  Back in the day it was required to choose if you wanted to have a relationship with another woman.

LAVENDAR  The Color of Queerdom.  Lesbians in particular seem to identify with the color lavendar.

LESBIAN  A woman whose sexual orientation is toward women.

LIGHT IN THE LOAFERS A gay male, particularly a very effeminate gay male, is said to be light in the loafers.

LP Lesbian Potential.

MARY  Gay males sometimes refer to each other as Mary.  As in "Oh Mary!"

MATTACHINE SOCIETY  The Mattachine Foundation was organized in Los Angeles in 1950 by Harry Hay and seven other gay men. All these men were either communists or radicals. The group was named after the Mattachines, a medieval troupe of men who went from village to village advocating social justice.

MTF  Male to Female.  A transgendered person who was born male but has become, or is in the process of becoming female.

NELLY  Another term for gay, usually referring to males.  More of a British term.

OUT  Refers to a GLBTI person who does not make a secret of their sexuality/lifestyle.  As in Out of the Closet.  Everyone in their life knows.

OUTTED  When someone else, without your permission, tells others in your life that you are GLBTI, you have been Outted.

PACKING  Some butch women enjoy wearing dildos in their pants when going out on the town.  This is called packing.

PINK TRIANGLE During the time of Nazi Germany, Pink triangles, often larger than triangles for other crimes, were used to identify men convicted of homosexuality (paragraph 175 of the Reich Penal Code), incest or pedophilia (paragraphs 174 and 176).

POOF  A British term for pansy or fairy.  Not complimentary.

PRE-OP A transgendered person who has not yet had surgery.

QUEER  Not heterosexual. Originally used with negative connotations, but is currently being reclaimed by some groups within the LGBT community.

RAINBOW  The colors of the rainbow represent the diversity of the GLBTI community.  See Rainbow Flag.

RAINBOW FLAG  The rainbow flag has become the easily-recognized colors of pride for the gay community. The multicultural symbolism of the rainbow is nothing new -- Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition also embraces the rainbow as a symbol of that political movement. The rainbow also plays a part in many myths and stories related to gender and sexuality issues in Greek, Native American, African, and other cultures.

Use of the rainbow flag by the gay community began in 1978 when it first appeared in the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade. Borrowing symbolism from the hippie movement and black civil rights groups, San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag in response to a need for a symbol that could be used year after year. Baker and thirty volunteers hand-stitched and hand-dyed two huge prototype flags for the parade. The flags had eight stripes, each color representing a component of the community: hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION  How one thinks of oneself in terms of to whom one is sexually and/or romantically attracted. Orientation is dependent NOT upon physical experience, but rather on a person’s feelings and attractions.

STONEWALL  For gay, lesbian and bisexual activists, the word "Stonewall" signifies quite possibly the most important, single landmark in the worldwide struggle for gay rights. Most chroniclers of the homosexual rights movement trace the beginnings of the movement's militant phase to 1969 and New York's lower-Manhattan (largely gay-frequented) Stonewall Bar. There, for the first time on record, homosexual patrons fought back when Stonewall was raided one hot summer night by New York City policemen, who came hoping to arrest gay individuals for engaging in then illegal homosexual acts.

Eyewitnesses claim that the homosexual patrons' counter-riot began when one burly, Stonewall patron hurled a lidded, metal garbage can filled with empty liquor bottles through a police car window.

Ever since that night, Stonewall has been revered as an enduring symbol of the gay militant spark lit that night, which has become a gay/lesbian/bisexual militant conflagration setting America -- and the world -- aflame with gay rights issues and conflicts.

  ~Stonewall Revisited~

SWISHY  Effeminate.  Generally refers to a gay male.

TINKY WINKY The Teletubbie who was outed by Jerry Falwell.

TRANSGENDER  A person who believes that they were born into the wrong body gender-wise.  Research has suggested that there are differences in the brains of men and women which tell us, in part, which sex we are. 

Used both as an umbrella term and as an identity. Broadly it refers to anyone who does not identify with his or her assigned gender. As an identity the term refers to anyone who transgresses the traditional sex and gender characteristics and/or expectations.  (Carleton College)
 
TRANSEXUAL  someone who identifies with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. Some transsexuals choose to use hormones and/or to have operations to change their physical anatomy to be congruent with their self-perception.

TRANSVESTITE  Someone who dresses according to the social norms characteristic of the gender than the one they are assigned. This may be a way of life or a behavior expressed at specific times, and is independent of sexual orientation.

TWINK/TWINKIE  Another derogatory term for a gay male.

U-HAULS  It is an old joke in lesbian culture that after the first date, lesbians have a tendency to rent a U-Haul trailer and load up all of their belongings to move in with the new girlfriend.   There is a kernel of truth in there.

VAGITARIAN  You figure it out...

WOMAN IDENTIFIED WOMAN  A woman whose emotional, social, cultural, political, and psychological life is focused on women rather than on men.  Not all lesbians are woman identified.  Not all heterosexual women are Male Identified.