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Gay Affirmative Psychotherapy

Gay and Lesbian Terms and Definitions
© 2004 by Joe Kort. All rights reserved

For further information go to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation


A. Fear, hatred, disgust of feelings of love for members of one’s own gender.

B. Prejudice based on personal belief that Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Gays are immoral, sick, sinful or inferior to heterosexuals.

Results in:

- Fear of association with Lesbians, Bisexuals and Gays
- Fear of being perceived as Lesbian, Bisexual, or Gay
- Fear of stepping out of “accepted” gender role behavior

Also known as Homonegative.


A. Assumption  that all people are (or should be) heterosexual.

B. Belief in superiority  of heterosexuality and the inferiority  of homosexuality.

C. Rights and privileges  given to heterosexuals and denied to Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Gays.

-Marriage (Gays and Lesbians cannot marry anywhere in the U.S.)
-Housing (Gays and Lesbians can be evicted from housing just for being Gay and Lesbian)
-Employment (One can be terminated from employment just for being Gay and Lesbian)

Revealed in:

- personal behavior
- institutional policies
- cultural norms


Lesbian:  A woman or young woman who forms her primary loving and sexual relationships with other women; a woman or young woman who has a continuing affectional, emotional, romantic, and/or erotic attraction to someone of the same sex. Some lesbians prefer to call themselves “lesbian” and they use the term “gay” to refer to gay men; others use the term “gay” to refer to both gay males and lesbian females.

Gay Male:  An affirmative word for a man or young man who forms his primary romantic and sexual relationships with other men; a man or young man who has a continuing affectional, emotional, romantic, and/or erotic attraction to someone of the same sex. Women use this word as well (see above). 

Homosexual:  A lesbian or a gay male. Note: Homosexual is a clinical and technical term that is not generally used by lesbians or gay men to refer to themselves or their community. For example, a person refers to themselves as gay, or openly gay not admittedly homosexual or a practicing homosexual. These latter terms have negative stigmatized connotations. This term is also widely used by Reparative Therapists and Religious organizations to reinforce that homosexuality is negative and that “gay” is an affirmative lifestyle.

Bisexual or Bi-Attractional:  A person or young person who has the potential for or forms affectionate, emotional, romantic, and/or erotic attraction with members of either gender.

Heterosexual:  A person or young person who has a continuing affectionate, emotional, romantic, and/or erotic attraction to the opposite gender

LesBiGay : A recent term, formed by combining Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay male, to refer to non-heterosexual people, i.e. lesbians, gay men, or bisexual.

Transgendered : A person who is expanding the societal boundaries of female and male genders. This includes people who are undergoing sex/gender reassignment (transsexuals) and transvestites/cross dressers. Transsexuals and transvestites may be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual.

Homoerotic:  The enjoyment of watching two men or two women being sexual with one another. Or the idea of a man eroticizing sexual contact with another man and a woman eroticizing sexual behavior with another woman.

Hetero-emotional:  A man or woman who is heterosexually emotionally attached and drawn to members of the opposite gender and sexually attracted to members of either same gender and/or opposite gender.

Homo-emotional:  A man or woman who is emotionally attracted and drawn to members of the same gender and sexually attracted to members of one’s own gender and/or opposite gender.

Questioning:  A person who is undecided and/or confused about their sexual and romantic orientation. 

Queer:  A mostly political term to describe gay, lesbian, bi-attractional and transgender persons. It is an umbrella term to refer to the gay community as a while.

Being Out or Out of the Closet:  A term, which means being open or public about being lesbian, gay or bisexual. A closeted  person hides the fact that they are lesbian, gay or bisexual. Some people are “out” in some settings (for example, with friends) and not “out” in other settings (e.g. at work or with family).

Life Partner, Partner, Significant Other and Lover:  Some of the terms that lesbian, gay and bisexual people use to identify those people with whom they have made a commitment in their romantic or sexual relationships.

Fag, Dyke, Faggot, Lezzie, Homo, Queer, Fairy, Fruit, Pansy, and Sissy:  Terms used to insult lesbians, gays and bisexual people.


1. Certain mannerisms or physical characteristics cannot identify Lesbian, gay and bisexual people.  People who are lesbian, gay or bisexuals (Bi-Attractional) come in as many different shapes, colors and sizes as do heterosexuals. In fact, many heterosexuals portray a variety of so-called lesbian and gay mannerisms.

2. Most lesbian, gay and bisexual people are comfortable with being their biological sex: they do not regard themselves as members of the other sex.  Being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not the same thing as being transsexual, where a person feels that they are the wrong biological sex.

3. The majority of child molesters are heterosexual men, not lesbian, gay or bisexual women and men.  Over 90% of child molestation is committed by heterosexual men against young girls. The overwhelming majority of lesbians and gay men have no interest in sexual activity with children.

4. Sexual experiences as a child are not necessarily indicative of one’s sexual orientation as an adult.  There is a huge difference between sexual activity and sexual attraction.

5. Many, and perhaps most, lesbian, gay and bisexual people have early heterosexual experiences , but are still lesbian, gay or bisexual; many avowed heterosexuals have had sexual contact including orgasm, with members of their own sex, but are still heterosexual. 

6. Some lesbian, gay and bisexual people know at an early age -- sometimes as soon as 7 or 8 years old -- that they are attracted to their own sex. Some people learn much later in life, in their 60’s or 70’s.  Some research indicates that sexual orientation is determined between birth and age 3. And, having said all that, no one knows what causes sexual orientation.

7. It is impossible to convert heterosexuals to being homosexual.  Based on what is known about sexual attraction, this is simply not possible, nor is it possible to convert homosexuals to being heterosexual.

8. Although homosexual “seduction” does occur, it is far less common than heterosexual “seduction”, and, in fact, it may be even less common due to the fact that heterosexuals may react with hostility to sexual advances from members of their own sex.  This misinformation, together with the misinformation about molestation, is the basis for attempts to keep lesbians and gay men from working with children. 

9. Homosexuality is not a type of mental illness and cannot be “cured” by psychotherapy. Although homosexuality was once thought to be a mental illness, the American Psychiatric and American Psychological Associations no longer consider homosexuality to be a mental illness. some people believe that it is the prejudice against homosexuality that needs to be cured.

10. Most psychiatric and psychological attempts to “cure” lesbian women and gay men have failed to change the sexual attraction of the patient, and instead, have resulted in creating emotional trauma.  Many lesbians and gay men have known heterosexuals who tried to convert them to being heterosexual, without success.

11. Lesbian, gay and bisexual people have the same range of sexual activity -- from none to a lot -- as heterosexuals do.  some lesbian, gay and bisexual people are celibate, some have been in monogamous relationships for decades, some have had several lovers across a lifetime, and some have many sexual partners in a given period of time.

12. If you think about all the heterosexuals you know, they, too, fall across a spectrum of sexual activity and types of relationships.  What is different is that we have gotten more information about the sexuality of lesbian, gay and bisexual people and little information about the diversity or depth of their relationships. 

13. For example, the only “homosexual” stories generally covered by the mainstream media are sensational ones  -- a gay man accused of molesting school boys, or only photographing unusual dress at Gay Parades -- while the everyday lives of most lesbian, gay and bisexual people are effectively kept secret or never discussed in a matter-of-fact way.

14. Many people accuse lesbian, gay and bisexual people of “flaunting” their sexuality when they talk about their partner, hold hands or briefly kiss one another in public.  And yet these are activities that heterosexual couples do all the time -- in fact, some heterosexual couples do much more than this in public. Who’s flaunting their sexuality?

15. There is no single “gay lifestyle” . In fact, there is no standard heterosexual lifestyle. Think of all the heterosexuals you know. How many have similar “lifestyles”? for example, although some people might like to think that a “normal” adult lifestyle is a heterosexual marriage with 2 children, less than 7% of all family units in the United States consist of a mother, father, and two children living together.

16. Although there are many widely held stereotypes about people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual , the most accurate generalization might be this: lesbian, gay and bisexual people are different from one another in the same way that heterosexual people are different from one another.

17. People who are lesbian, gay and bisexual work in all types of jobs and they live in all types of situations.  They belong to all ethnic and racial groups. they are members of all religious, spiritual, and faith communities. They have different mental and physical abilities. They are young, middle-aged, and old.

18. Whatever is generally true about heterosexual people , is probably true about lesbian, gay and bisexual people, with two important exceptions: their sexual attraction is different and lesbian, gay and bisexual people are affected by homophobia and heterosexism in powerful and unique ways.

19. Each day, lesbian, gay and bisexual people must face prejudice, discrimination, and oppression because of their sexual attraction.  This affects decisions about jobs, family, friends and housing...virtually all aspects of what most people would consider “everyday” living.

20. Sometimes the oppression escalates into acts of verbal and physical violence.  The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force received reports of 7,248 incidents of anti-gay violence and victimization in the United States; actual levels are presumed to be much higher. In surveys of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, 52% to 87% have been verbally harassed, 21% to 27% have been pelted with objects, 13% to 38% have been chased or followed, and 9% to 24% have been physically assaulted.

21. Despite all of this, many lesbian, gay and bisexual people live proud, fulfilled lives.  Many are committed to educating others about homophobia as well as caring for themselves and other members of their communities. 


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