The Colors of the Rainbow
By Akira (@pinakatanaka)
Have you ever wondered what the letters in the LGBTQIA+ mean? No, they’re not just random letters put in random order. The LGBTQIA+ community has been fighting for their rights for about a century, and the arrangement of the letters in the LGBTQIA+ is believed to be arranged in the order of the timeline in queer rights. Gays and Lesbians were the first ones to be recognized, followed by Bisexuals, and the recent ones, Transgenders, the term ‘Queer’ was introduced, Intersexes, Asexuals and so much more. This article expands on the different sexualities that have been recognized to this day. If you are struggling with your sexuality, I hope this article could be of help.
Keep in mind that the coming out experience is different for each person, and the act of coming out can be difficult and emotional for a lot of people, so take your time with figuring yourself out. You’ll get there.
The sexualities that are known to this day are as follows (in alphabetical order):
- Anyone who feels sexual attraction for other people is considered allosexual. Allosexual people may have any sexual orientation. The word was coined by the asexual community to help reduce the assumption that allosexuality is “normal” and asexuality is “abnormal.” An allosexual person may feel both romantic and sexual attraction to someone, generally meaning that they want to be in a relationship and perform sexual acts with them.
- Androsexual refers to people who are attracted to masculinity. People who are androsexual may be attracted to anyone with masculine qualities regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
- Asexual is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or a low interest in sexual activity. Some people consider asexuality to be their sexual orientation, and others describe it as an absence of sexual orientation.
- Aromantic people experience little to no romantic attraction. Romantic attraction is about wanting a committed romantic relationship with someone.
The definition of “romantic relationship” can differ from person to person.
Some aromantic people have romantic relationships anyway. They might want a romantic relationship without feeling romantic attraction toward a specific person.
- A person who’s sexually attracted to themselves. Someone’s desire to engage in sexual behavior such as masturbation doesn’t determine whether they’re autosexual.
- A romantic orientation that describes a person who’s romantically attracted to themselves. Those who identify as autoromantic often report experiencing the relationship they have with themselves as romantic.
- Bicurious is the term used for someone who typically has sexual relations with one gender, but is curious about having sex with a different gender. Often, the term is used for people who identify as heterosexual and are curious about exploring a same-sex relationship or sexual experience.
“Heteroflexible” is another term that is similar to bicurious. However, heteroflexible specifically refers to people who identify as heterosexual and may be open to same-sex relationships. Bicurious can refer to that, but can also be used for people who identify as gay and are curious about heterosexual relationships.
Some people believe that the term bicurious is discriminatory because it implies that you have to have sexual experience before you can claim that you are bisexual. However, others believe that bicurious is a useful term for those who are exploring their sexual orientation.
- Bisexual people are attracted to both men and women, and make up more than half of the LGBTQ community. Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior toward both males and females.
- Biromanticism is a term that takes the sexuality out of bisexuality and, instead, places the focus on the emotional aspect. In other words, a biromantic person is capable of feeling a romantic connection with people of both similar and different sex from their own.
- Cupiosexual describes asexual people who don’t experience sexual attraction but still have the desire to engage in sexual behavior or a sexual relationship.
- Demisexuality is a sexual orientation where people only experience sexual attraction to folks that they have close emotional connections with.
In other words, demisexual people only experience sexual attraction after an emotional bond has formed.
- A demiromantic person is someone who only develops romantic feelings for another person when they have a strong emotional connection to them. Demiromantic people can be of any gender identity or sexual orientation.
- A term that describes individuals who experience sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction to people of the same or a similar gender.
Some gay-identified women prefer the term lesbian, while others prefer queer or gay. It’s also best to ask which word or term someone uses to describe themselves.
The fields of medicine and psychology previously referred to this sexual orientation as homosexual. Homosexual is now viewed as an outdated and offensive term and shouldn’t be used to refer to LGBTQIA+ individuals.
- Gray asexuality or gray-sexuality is the spectrum between asexuality and sexuality. Individuals who identify with gray asexuality are referred to as being gray-A, or a gray ace, and make up what is referred to as the “ace umbrella”.
- Greyromantic or Greyaromantic (also spelled as Grayromantic or Grayaromantic) is a romantic orientation on the aromantic spectrum which describes those who relate with aromanticism, yet feel that there are parts of their experience that aren’t fully described by the word aromantic. Greyromantic can be used as a specific identity, or as an umbrella term for any aro-spec identity that isn’t purely aromantic, including demiromantic and others.
A common reason someone may identify as greyromantic is that they experience romantic attraction but very infrequently. Some greyromantic people may only feel romantic attraction once or twice in their life. Others may experience it more frequently, but still not as frequently as alloromantic people.
- Gynesexual/gynosexual people are individuals who experience sexual attraction toward women, females, and/or femininity, regardless of whether they were assigned female at birth.
- A term that describes people who experience sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction to people of the “opposite” gender (e.g. male vs. female, man vs. woman) or a different gender.
Both cisgender and transgender identified people can be heterosexual. This sexual orientation category is commonly described as straight.
- An outdated term rooted in the fields of medicine and psychology that refers to individuals who experience sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction to people of the same or a similar gender.
- Lesbian usually refers to a woman who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation toward women. Some nonbinary people also identify with this term.
- A term used to describe an asexual person who experiences sexual feelings that are satisfied through self-stimulation or masturbation.
This label acknowledges that, for some people, acting on libido or sexual feelings doesn’t necessarily involve sexual behavior with others.
- Monosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction to members of one sex or gender only. A monosexual person may identify as heterosexual or homosexual.
- Referring to an identity on the asexuality spectrum, a non-libidoist asexual is someone who doesn’t experience any sexual feelings or have an active sex drive.
- Omnisexual is similar to pansexual and can be used to describe individuals whose sexuality isn’t limited to people of a particular gender, sex, or sexual orientation. A term that describes individuals who can experience sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction to any person, regardless of that person’s gender, sex, or sexuality.
- A term that describes individuals who can experience romantic, or emotional (but not sexual) attraction to any person, regardless of that person’s gender, sex, or sexuality.
- A term that describes individuals with a sexual orientation that involves sexual or romantic attraction to people with varying genders. Polysexual orientations include bisexuality, pansexuality, omnisexuality, and queer, among many others.
- Pomosexual, also called Labeln’t, refers to someone who denies or does not fit any labels for a particular kind of attraction. A pomosexual person rejects, has an aversion to, or does not fit any sexual orientations such as gay, straight, bisexual, asexual etc.
- An umbrella term that describes individuals who aren’t exclusively heterosexual. The term queer (the Q in LBGTQIA+), acknowledges that sexuality is a spectrum as opposed to a collection of independent and mutually exclusive categories.
Use of the word queer opens up options beyond lesbian, gay, and bisexual to individuals who don’t fit neatly into these categories or prefer a category that isn’t dependent on sex and gender.
While this term once had negative and derogatory connotations, queer has resurfaced as a common and socially acceptable way for LGBTQIA+ individuals to refer to themselves and their community.
Despite its growing use, some people still have negative associations with the word queer and don’t like to be referred to in this way. Queer, like all terms describing sexuality, should be used sensitively and respectfully.
- Sapiosexuality means that a person is sexually attracted to highly intelligent people, so much so that they consider it to be the most important trait in a partner. It is a relatively new word that has become more popular in recent years. Both LGBTQ+ people and heterosexual people may identify as sapiosexual.
- Sex-averse describes those who are asexual and are averse to or extremely disinterested in sex or sexual behavior.
- On the spectrum of asexuality, sex-favorable is viewed as the “opposite” of sex-repulsed and describes those who are asexual, and in certain situations can have favorable or positive feelings toward sex.
- Sex-indifferent describes those who are asexual and feel indifferent or neutral about sex or sexual behavior.
- Similar to sex-averse, sex-repulsed is on the spectrum of asexuality and describes those who are asexual and are repulsed by or extremely disinterested in sex or sexual behavior.
- Skoliosexuality, sometimes spelled scoliosexuality, is the attraction to people who are transgender or nonbinary. People who are transgender identify as a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth. They may identify as a man, a woman, or neither.
- A term that describes people who are sexually or romantically attracted to multiple or varied sexes, genders, and gender identities — but not necessarily all or any.
Other Important Terms:
- Closeted, also referred to as “in the closet,” describes people in the LGBTQIA+ community who don’t publicly or openly share their sexual identity, sexual attraction, sexual behavior, gender expression, or gender identity.
Closeted is often understood as the opposite of “out,” and refers to the metaphorical hidden or private place a LBGTQIA+ person comes from in the process of making decisions about disclosing gender and sexuality.
Some individuals may be out in certain communities but closeted in others, due to fear of discrimination, mistreatment, rejection, or violence.
- This term refers to the fact that sexuality, sexual attraction, and sexual behavior can change over time and be dependent on the situation.
It’s used to describe those who experience shifts in their sexuality, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior in different situations or throughout the course of their lifetime. You may hear someone describe their sexuality as “fluid.”
- The acronym that often describes individuals who don’t identify as exclusively heterosexual or exclusively cisgender.
The letters in the LGBTQIA+ acronym stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual.
The + symbol in LGBTQIA+ refers to the fact that there are many sexual orientations and gender identities that are part of the broader LGBTQIA community, but aren’t included as part of the acronym.
- The process of being curious about or exploring some aspect of sexuality or gender. Questioning can also be used as an adjective to describe someone who’s currently exploring their sexuality or gender.
- The experience of having an emotional response that results in the desire for a romantic, but not necessarily sexual, relationship or interaction with another person or oneself.
Some people experience romantic attraction but don’t experience sexual attraction.
- Romantic orientation is an aspect of self and identity that involves:
- how you identify
- the way you experience romantic desire (if you do)
- the gender(s) or sex(es) of the people who someone engages in romantic relationships with (if any)
- the gender(s) or sex(es) of the people someone is romantically attracted to (if any)
- Sexual attraction refers to experiencing sexual desire or arousal in relation to another person or group of people.
Sexual Orientation or Sexuality
- Sexual orientation or sexuality is an aspect of self that involves:
- how you identify
- the way you experience sexual or romantic desire (if you do)
- the gender(s) or sex(es) of the people who someone engages in sexual or romantic activity with (if any)
- the gender(s) or sex(es) of the people someone is attracted to (if any)
- Sexuality can change over the course of someone’s life and in different situations. It’s understood to be a spectrum instead of a series of mutually exclusive categories.
Coming out is a long and tedious process that people go through. Sometimes, people figure out their sexualities after a week of contemplating and educating themselves, others come to terms with themselves after 5 years, some even longer. Take note that it’s also okay for your label to change over time because we continually progress and discover more about ourselves as we go. Questioning your sexuality after you’ve already come out the first time is totally normal. But then again, labelling yourself is not always necessary. If you prefer to not label yourself a specific sexuality, that’s alright, too. You’re completely valid for that. If you’re unsure or you feel like you’re stuck about your sexuality, that’s okay, too. Take your time.
Also keep in mind that you don’t always have to tell someone if you feel unsafe about your identity. It’s your right to keep it to yourself until you are ready to tell someone. On another important note, never ever out someone without their permission. If someone trusted you enough to tell you about their identity, and asked you to keep it a secret, respect that. They will come out in their own time, and they will figure everything out at their own pace.
Tanaka “Akira” Saeko is a feature writer for Lagablab. He can be contacted at @pinakatanaka on Twitter.
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