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All About the LGBTQ+ Acronym: What is Gay?

The word gay was used to mean happy, and the term wasn't connected to sexuality until the 1600s. Now, gay is a socially acceptable word for homosexual people of any gender. 

The second letter in the LGBTQ+ acronym is “G” for gay. The definition of gay can take on many variations. 

  1. A term used in some cultural settings to represent males who are attracted to males in a romantic, erotic, and/or emotional sense. Not all men who engage in “homosexual behavior” identify as gay, and as such this label should be used with caution. 2. Term used to refer to the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual.

For many years, the word gay was used to mean happy, and the term wasn’t connected to sexuality until the 1600s. Now, gay is a socially acceptable word for homosexual people of any gender. 

What Does Being Gay Mean?

Identifying as ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ means you are emotionally and sexually attracted to people of your own gender. Lesbians refer to themselves as gay, as well as trans folks.

However, the word gay can be used offensively. Like when it refers to being stupid or not desirable. These kinds of remarks have been part of teenagers’ and adults’ vernaculars since the 1990s. While many using it don’t recognize that it’s offensive, its casual usage can lead to harassment.

Reducing and preventing the derogatory way of using the word gay will create a more positive atmosphere for LGBTQ+ people. To be a more tolerant society, it is essential to call out language that promotes prejudice and fear.

I Think I Might Be Gay – How Can I Be Sure?

Since we still live in a heteronormative society, many people think may initially think they’re straight. Then later, they may discover that they are not.

These same-sex feelings can occur during dreams, thoughts, or attraction towards someone of a similar gender for many people. 

On the other hand, those factors may not indicate that you are gay or prove anything about your sexual orientation. Attraction comes in different forms, and you can be attracted to various genders.

In essence, each individual is unique in their attraction and types. You don’t need to abide by any criteria to identify as gay, bisexual, pansexual, or any other orientation. 

However, how you want to identify is ultimately up to you. Coming to terms with your sexual orientation has no set path and looks however you want it to look. 

Allow yourself to feel your feelings and explore. If you ignore them, it can be more challenging to figure out what they are. 

Even in today’s times, there is still a stigma around identifying as gay. As a result, some people may think that they shouldn’t think or act upon these feelings.

Thinking deeper about these feelings or even talking to a trustworthy person about them can get you closer to figuring out if you are gay or any other way you want to identify. 

Identifying as Gay 

It can take some time to see yourself as gay or other sexual identities. Your sexual identity can also be fluid and change over time. Be sure to give yourself time with it, and there’s no need to rush. 

No matter what sexual orientation, many individuals can have crushes on people of the same sex or gender. Or maybe you have had a few sexual experiences and been exploring your sexual identity. These feelings and experiences don’t necessarily mean that you’re gay – you could be bisexual, pansexual, or of another sexual orientation.

Dealing with Discrimination 

Many gay people continue to deal with discrimination, even as society has progressed. However, their behavior and attitudes have nothing to do with you; that is their problem.

If you are being discriminated against or harassed for your sexuality, there is nothing wrong with you. That issue is that specific person who holds ignorant and intolerant views. If you encounter someone abusive and bullying you, you can leave right away and find a safe friend or family member you trust. 

What Do I Do if I’m Struggling With My Sexuality?

If you are struggling with your sexuality and are unsure what to do, there are many support resources. You could talk to another LGBTQ+ person, friend, or family member about your feelings. If you want to talk to someone anonymously, you can call a helpline in your community or get in touch with a support service. 

You Don’t Have to Feel Pressure to Come Out 

If you do think you’re gay, coming out is a choice entirely up to you. You don’t have to come out right away if you’re not ready. Figuring out your sexuality is a process, and you can take as much time as you need.

Since you and your feelings are the most important, you don’t have to share anything that puts others’ needs before yours. The way you want to discuss your sexuality is whatever works best for you. 

According to Twenty10, there is another way to look at coming out. Instead of coming out, inviting in can be a more comfortable option. By choosing “inviting in,” you have the freedom to share your ideas about your sexuality with the people you trust most.  

Instead of announcing your identity, a conversation about your thoughts on your sexuality can be a safer way to communicate.  

Now that you have a sense of what “G” stands for in the LGBTQ+ acronym, you can continue to educate yourself. Whether you are questioning or want to be a good ally, keeping yourself informed is always a significant step towards understanding more about yourself or others. 

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Billie Olsen

AUTHOR: Billie Olsen

Billie Olsen (she/they) is a lifestyle writer, disability justice advocate, and cozy femme located in Kelowna, BC, Canada. Their works have appeared in Metro News, Discorder, Sophomore Magazine, the Post-Feminist Post, DINE Magazine, and NerdReader.