Entertainment Love and Romance Is there a difference in the terms "queer" and "gay/lesbian"? Share PINTEREST Email Print Love and Romance LGBTQ Relationships Sexuality Divorce Teens Friendship By Kathy Belge Syracuse University Kathy Belge is a writer and coauthor of Lipstick & Dipstick’s Essential Guide to Lesbian Relationships and Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter LinkedIn LinkedIn Kathy Belge Updated February 15, 2017 Question: Is there a difference in the terms "queer" and "gay/lesbian"? Vanessa wrote in with this question. "I was wondering if there is a difference in the terms "queer" vs. gay/lesbian?" Answer: The word queer to many is an insult that was said in a hurtful way to gays, lesbians and anyone who was different. Today, many people have reclaimed the word "queer" to be an all-encompassing term for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and genderqueer. While gaining popularity, some still find the word "queer" to be offensive. To be on the safe side, unless you know your audience and know that the word will not offend them, use gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or LGBT for short. For any formal writing or presentations, it is appropriate to spell out lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender in the first usage and shorten it to LGBT thereafter.