Labeling people can be problematic. Yet people often develop unique (and sometimes confusing) labels and classifications for themselves. In the LGBTQ+ community, there are numerous unique identities and orientations sometimes lumped together under one all-encompassing banner: Gay.
Gender identity and expression are entirely different from sexual orientation: A person’s gender is part of who they are, while a person’s orientation is all about whom they love. Within these two main groupings are dozens of individualities, each with their own distinctive banner.
The rainbow flag was originally meant to represent the full spectrum of Queer identity, and was first flown in the aftermath of the NYC Stonewall Riots in 1969. In recent years, variations on a new Progressive Pride flag have also gained popular use, to embrace the transgender and intersex populations.
Transgender: People whose gender identity and/or expression is different from the sex they were assigned at birth, meaning the Male or Female designation on their birth certificate.
Androgynous: A person whose gender identity or expression incorporates traits of both the masculine and feminine. Think Prince or David Bowie.
Those whose gender identity is beyond the male or female, masculine or feminine. Genderfluid indi-viduals may lean more in one direction for a while — an hour, a day, a week — and then revert to the other, or somewhere in between, with no fixed gender role.
People who eschew or don’t conform to the traditional binary system of male/female gender categories. Nonbinary people may use “they/them” pronouns. Gender nonconforming typically falls under this umbrella, but GNC individuals may use traditional he/him and she/her pronouns.
Gender identity does not necessarily tie to a person’s sexual orientation. A person born male and later transitioned to female is now a woman. But a transgender woman may be sexually attracted to women, irrespective of her gender identity.
This is because sexual orientation is independent of one’s gender, and every person has the absolute freedom — the absolute right — to develop and express their own unique identity, no matter what, even if it doesn’t fit neatly into traditional societal constructs.
For example, there are men who have sex with men, and women who have sex with women, who nevertheless don’t identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Sexual orientation goes far beyond gay (men who are attracted to other men) and lesbian (women who are attracted to other women. For example:
People who are sexually attracted to two genders, usually, but not always, their own and another: men, women, trans, androgynous or fluid.
Similar to bisexuality, pansexuals may be sexually attracted to people of more than one gender. But for pa ns exu a l s , the attraction is to the individual person irrespective of their gender.
Having no sexual desire or attraction at all. This is separate from autosexual , a classification for those who prefer self-stimulation.
And there are many more. There are designations for body types, even dating preferences, like omniromantic.
But what about straight folks — those attracted to the opposite sex? There is a flag for that as well; it’s just not as colorful.