Sexual orientation is who you're sexually attracted to and is a spectrum. This can mean sexual attraction to a different gender, the same gender or little to no sexual attracting at all.


Allosexual

Allosexual refers to people who do not identify as asexual—that is, people who regularly experience sexual attraction, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Asexual

Asexual is the term used to describe people who feel little or no sexual attraction to anyone. This is totally normal and may be more common than you think. Often shortened to "ace."

Bisexual

This is the term used to describe people who are sexually attracted to more than one gender. Sometimes shortened to "bi."

Demisexual

Demisexual describes people who are only sexually attracted to someone when they have an emotional bond with the person. They can be gay, straight, bisexual, or pansexual, and may have any gender identity. Sometimes shortened to "demi."

Gay

This is used to describe people who are exclusively attracted to members of the same gender. Some gay women will prefer to refer to themselves as lesbians.

Graysexual

Graysexual refers to people who experience limited sexual attraction. In other words, they experience sexual attraction very rarely, or with very low intensity.

This is also known as gray-asexuality, gray-A, or gray-ace.

Graysexual people fit somewhere between asexual and allosexual. This stems from the idea that sexuality isn’t black and white — there’s a “gray area” that many people fall into.

Heterosexual

This is the word used to describe someone who is exclusively attracted to people of another gender.

Homosexual

This a word used to describe someone who is exclusively sexually attracted to people of the same gender. Many gay and lesbian people will prefer to simply be referred to as gay or lesbian. 

Lesbian

This is a word used to describe women who are exclusively sexually attracted to other women. Some of these women will prefer to simply describe themselves as gay.

LGBTQIA+

LGBTQIA+ is a commonly used acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex or Asexual. The + sign is to signify other categories of gender and sexual orientation that aren’t accurately described by these terms.

Pansexual

This is used to describe someone who is sexually attracted to people of all genders. Sometimes shortened to "pan."

Queer

Queer is an umbrella term used to describe people who do not fall into a traditional gender role or sexual orientation. Essentially, it can be used to describe anyone who is not heterosexual and/or cisgender. However, it has historically been used as a slur against LGBTQIA+ people, and some will still be offended by it. As such, it’s only ok to use it about another person if that person self-identifies as queer.

Questioning

This is when someone is unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity and are in the process of questioning it. Many people go through phases of questioning in their life, whether they’re straight, gay, bi, lesbian, trans or cis, and this is absolutely fine.

Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation is a term used to describe what gender or genders someone is sexually attracted to, and is a spectrum that includes the asexual spectrum.

Straight

A term used to describe people who are exclusively sexually attracted to members of another gender. It can be used interchangeably with heterosexual.

Support:

You can contact the LGBT Switchboard on 0300 330 0630 or www.switchboard.lgbt or find details of local switchboards and organisations that offer face-to-face counselling at www.turingnetwork.org.uk.