Using inclusive language makes a difference. Find helpful tips for keywording LGBTQ+ content with these simple guidelines.

When selecting keywords to describe a community’s identity, it’s important to incorporate inclusive language. But this isn’t always straightforward. In recent years, there have been a lot of conversations revolving around gender identity and the LGBTQ+ community.

While GLAAD Media reported an 8.8% increase in people from the LGBTQ+ community in the media from 2018 to 2019, there is still a need for more representation and growth.


Navigating Inclusive Language

Sometimes those who don’t identify with this community may feel unsure about keywording  photos of LGBTQ+ content. They might be worried they’ll say something wrong, or need a better understanding about why they should or shouldn’t use certain keywords or descriptions. 

Consider the Meaning

The meaning and interpretation of words can have a powerful impact on diversity, inclusion, and equity. It can also affect our feeling of belonging to our communities, workplaces, experiences, and society. 

Keywording Photos Using LGBTQ+ Inclusive Language — Language and Meaning
Image by Rawpixel.com

It’s important to stay current with a community’s vocabulary, and to steer away from using stigmatizing language. When it comes to a person’s gender identity, sexual orientation, race, age, body type, disability, and class, being aware of the content’s tone is integral to making sure the language is inclusive.

See the lists below for examples of what to use and what to avoid.

What to useWhat to avoid
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Asexual, Queer, LGBTQ, LGBTQ+Defamatory language. (GLAAD Media Reference Guide)
Transgender, Transgender People, Transgender Man, Transgender Woman, Trans, Non-binary, Cisgender, Two Spirit, Gender Fluid, Dual-Gender, Bigender, Pangender, Nonconforming, Gender Nonconforming, Gender Identity, Gender Queer, Queer, AndrogynousDefamatory language. Learn more here: 
(Human Rights Campaign)
Gender Transition, Sex ReassignmentSex Change
Gender DysphoriaGender Identity Disorder
IntersexDefamatory language. (GLAAD Media Reference Guide)
Drag Queen and Drag KingFemale Impersonator, Male Impersonator

Visual content can at times be complicit in promoting stereotypes in the media. Likewise, stock art of the LGBTQ+ community can be problematic if the majority of images are limited to a stereotyped perception of the community itself

This includes overly sexualized images of LGBTQ+ people, images that solely focus on the cosmetic appearance of the transgender and non-binary community, or visual depictions that are sexually and gender driven.

The Goal of Using Inclusive Language

Keywording Photos Using LGBTQ+ Inclusive Language — The Goal of Inclusive Language
Image by Africa Studio

When creating diverse content, the goal is to be sensitive with titling and describing the visuals, as well as using appropriate keywords to tag stock art. This allows the content to share the stories of a community with accuracy, integrity, and without causing harm. 

Taking the time to review content for these purposes helps to remove the inaccurate ideas and biases against marginalized communities. It benefits stock seekers and users in finding wonderful content that is welcoming and inclusive, and offers a positive experience for all who are creating and sharing their stories with an audience. 

Image by Dragon Images

We hope that these tools offer empowerment to all creative storytellers and provide a sense of feeling comfortable with using the proper LGBTQ+ terminology.


Top image by Jacob Lund.

For more tips on capturing authentic, diverse content, check these out.