How to Talk About LGBTQ Identities
-Talk about them! Many people are unsure about where to start or what terminology is okay to use, and therefore ignore the subject. This is not a good idea, because your silence can make it feel that you are ignoring the person and their experiences as an LGBTQ person.
-Accept that you will mess up and occasionally say things that are hurtful. Own up to your mistakes when they happen. When apologizing for something said, remember to express remorse for saying something hurtful, rather than telling someone you’re sorry they’re offended. Place the blame on yourself, not them.
-Mirror language! When talking about someone’s identity, use the same words that they use to describe themselves. This can get a bit tricky with some terms such as ‘queer’, which are reclaimed from slur usage. Sometimes people will be okay with using a term to describe themselves, but will not be okay with others using that term as a descriptor. When in doubt, ask if it’s okay to use a certain term.
-Remember than language evolves, and certain words that were seen as acceptable while you were growing up are now considered to be hurtful by many people. This is where the next point comes in:
-Educate yourself! It is your responsibility as a leader/an ally to learn about the identities of the people around you. (You’re already doing this by reading this guide! You’re going a great job!)
-On the topic of educating yourself, remember that marginalized people are not obligated to educate you. Emotional labor is real, and expecting to provide it can be tiring. Of course you should talk to people about their experiences, but anything that can be answered by a Google search should be.
-Avoid invasive questions. Although everyone has differing levels of comfort with discussing their experiences and some people are complete open books, there are some topics that are generally considered invasive to inquire about. This includes, but is not limited to, medical history, someone’s birth sex, how someone has sex, and what is in a person’s pants.
-Don’t assume that the person you are talking to is straight and cisgender. For example, when asking about someone’s partner, don’t assume that this person is male just because your friend is female.
-Remember that identities are adjectives, not nouns. Someone is not ‘a transgender’ or ‘a homosexual’; they are a trans person or a gay person.
-There is not a universally accepted term to refer to a person who is not straight or cis. The most common term is LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer), but some people are not comfortable with this initialism because it does not include many identities. The term ‘queer’ is becoming increasingly common, but some people, especially those older than the millennial generation, dislike this term because it was once a slur, and is still sometimes used as one.
-“If a person tells you they are not comfortable with you referring to them as queer, don’t. Always respect individual’s preferences when it comes to identity labels, particularly contentious ones (or ones with troubled histories) like this.” 
-Always use the pronouns someone asks you to refer to them with. This is not optional.