People are often confused by the terms lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and the related acronym LGBTQ. The following definitions will help you to understand these terms.
Lesbian A woman whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay (adj.) or as gay women. Avoid identifying lesbians as “homosexuals,” a derogatory term (see Offensive Terms to Avoid).
Gay The adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., gay man, gay people). In contemporary contexts, lesbian (n. or adj.) is often a preferred term for women. Avoid identifying gay people as “homosexuals” an outdated term considered derogatory and offensive to many lesbian and gay people.
Bisexual, Bi An individual who is physically, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to men and women. Bisexuals need not have had sexual experience with both men and women; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual.
Transgender An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.
Queer Traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some LGBT people to describe themselves. However, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting or describing someone who self-identifies that way.
This guide will help you to identify resources with information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer LGBTQ topics and issues. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this field, it would be impossible to include all scholarship and information that is available. This guide serves as a starting point for topics and information to consider. If you have questions or need help with your research, please contact a librarian for assistance.
The Rainbow Flag
A symbol of the the gay and lesbian movement, San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed the first rainbow flag for his city's June 25, 1978, Gay Freedom Day Parade. The orginal flag had eight stripes but was redesigned in 1979. Today, the six colors represent the following:
Today, the rainbow flag is a feature of gay pride celebrations around the world, and many lesbians and gay men fly it at their homes. It has been recognized by the International Congress of Flag Makers.
from Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia