Language and Definitions
When it comes to how we choose to identify ourselves or how we identify other people, the language we use is very important. Sometimes we may come across people who aren’t familiar with certain words, phrases, or ideas. It’s easy to assume that somebody who doesn’t use the right language doesn’t care about LGBTQ+ people or issues, but that person might actually care very much or even consider themselves an ally and just doesn’t have much experience or knowledge.
Think about it this way: if you’ve used an iPhone your whole life, you are probably familiar with how to download apps, use photo filters, and how to text. Imagine an older relative who has never had an iPhone comes to you asking you to help them out because they’ve been having trouble using the iPhone, and you explain to them how to use it, you might find yourself a little frustrated when they don’t know what you’re talking about – after all, you’re just trying to help them out – but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about their iPhone!
In fact, they probably value their iPhone very much, but just don’t have the same knowledge that you have. They might even do things with their iPhone that aren’t really very good for it, like dropping it in water or scratching up the screen, but they would still be very sad if their iPhone wasn’t in their life anymore. If you gave them a little information on how to treat their iPhone better, chances are that they would appreciate the information and be a better iPhone owner in the future. You’d be surprised how much people can change their minds and their actions once they gain a little knowledge.
I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better. — Maya Angelou
Don’t be afraid to speak up if you think that somebody is doing or saying things based on incorrect information or assumptions. You always have the right to explain, educate, and inform others about the things you understand, or about the things that are very important to you. If you are LGBTQ+ yourself or simply consider yourself an ally, people may consider you the “expert” on these issues, so it’s nice to have a good understanding of what certain terms mean. Here are a few that come up very often and will be used in this document: