Difference Between Queer and Gay

By: | Updated: Jun-15, 2022
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When it comes to the way people express their sexualities and orientation, there are many different terms that can be used. A lot of people might not be familiar with the meanings of different terms, especially when they are very similar. Knowing about them is very helpful in discovering your own identity and understanding and accepting yourself better.

Queer and gay might be very similar indeed, but they also have some major differences. These can be very important in how someone expresses themselves and can be important to know of. Whether this concerns you or someone dear to you, here are some main differences as well as similarities between queer and gay.

What each term represents

Difference Between Queer and Gay


More people are familiar with the term gay than they are with the term queer. For the most part, the term gay is used in certain setting to represent men who are romantically, sexually or emotionally attracted to other them. While this term can also describe women who are attracted to other women, many prefer to be called lesbians instead of gay.

When it comes to the term queer, it is used to explain that a person is not exclusively heterosexual and it refers to sexual and gender identities that are different from straight and cisgender. Queer literally means “strange” or “peculiar” in a sense that it represents something different from what society considers the norm.

In the past, the word queer used to be viewed as an offensive term which was linked to feminine men. People used it as a slur, and for a long time people of the community did not want to be associated with the word. Many LGBTQ+ members nowadays embrace the word and use it to express themselves with pride. Their queer identity is offering them the freedom to be who they are without certain boundaries society sets.

Finding a term that is not limiting

One of the main differences between gay and queer is that being queer represents a more wide range of genders and sexualities. This is a much more inclusive term and it can actually mean a lot of different things to different people. For example, it can show an attraction to people of many different genders, without limiting who you can love.

Some people just don’t feel like calling themselves a lesbian, gay or bisexual allows them to explain the full spectrum of how they feel about other people. When none of these feel enough or just right, the word queer allows them to give more space to how they feel and doesn’t limit them to a certain explanation.

This can also allow them to not have to send time explaining to others more things about their sexuality or identity. Queer is an umbrella term for people who do not want to fit into the sharp gender divisions that certain other sexualities require.

For example, actress and activist Cynthia Nixon who came out as queer after falling in love with her wife in 2015 said the following about being queer:

“I could call myself a lesbian, gay, bisexual. But none of them seems really particularly right. – To say ‘queer’ means, ‘I’m over there, I don’t have to go into the nuances of my sexuality with you. – I feel like ‘queer’ is an umbrella term, and it includes my formerly straight self too,”

Gayness focuses a lot on sexuality

When someone expresses themselves as gay, this is focuses a lot on their non-heterosexual relationships and is usually tied to cisgender individuals. A gay person is sexually and romantically attracted to people of the same gender, and this is not related to their gender identity. Being gay is a sexual orientation, which is not tied to a certain gender identity.

On the other hand, queer is a word that shows that sometimes, gender identity and sexuality can be complicated for some people, they might change over time or they might simply not fit into set identities such as gay or lesbian.

When it comes to dating, there are different things a gay and a queer individual will focus on. Online dating apps such as Taimi dating allow for people of different sexualities and gender identities to find love in the way they imagine and this is a very positive thing for the LGBTQ+ community.

Many people find that the word gay focuses a lot on the gender of the people you are sexually attracted to. On the other hand, a queer person doesn’t necessarily focus on genders and they might also not know or care about what their own gender is. Queerness focuses not only on sexuality but also on the gender identity of a person.

This oftentimes gives them the freedom to be open about themselves without having to explain what this means to them. In other words, each individual is able to personalize their expression of the term queer without having to give a set explanation to anyone.

Difference Between Queer and Gay


Finding the word that best suits your identity

When it comes to choosing between different terms to explain parts of yourself, you need to remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation. You are unique and every experience you have is valid and all you have to be is you. Not everyone will understand how you feel or how you see things and that is okay.

The most important thing is for you to live a life where you are comfortable in your own skin and understand yourself and your needs. The different terms that have been used by the LGBTQ+ community aim towards creating more euphoria for people who are struggling with their sexuality and gender identity. Whether you are gay or queer, you are important and enough.

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