NLGJA Stylebook: “Openly Gay/Lesbian”

NLGJA’s Stylebook Supplement on LGBT Terminology is intended to complement the prose stylebooks of individual publications, as well as the Associated Press stylebook, the leading stylebook in U.S. newsrooms.

It reflects the association’s mission of inclusive coverage of LGBT people and includes entries on words and phrases that have become common. The Stylebook Supplement was translated into Spanish in 2005.

Periodically, we’ll be spotlighting some of the major entries.

Here’s our “openly gay/lesbian” entry:

openly gay/lesbian: As a modifier, “openly” is usually not relevant; its use should be restricted to instances in which the public awareness of an individual’s sexual orientation is germane. Examples: Harvey Milk was the first openly gay San Francisco supervisor. “Ellen” was the first sitcom to feature an openly lesbian lead character. “Openly” is preferred over “acknowledged,” “avowed,” “admitted,” “confessed” or “practicing” because of their negative connotations.

We look forward to your comments!


2 Responses

  1. We use the “openly” or “out” modifier in several other cases. For example, “openly-gay congressman Barney Frank,” since there may be many other gay congresspersons who are not out.

  2. I like this entry. ‘Openly gay’ drives me nuts when used with someone who the public is well aware is gay. It smacks of having something to hide. Barney Frank is gay, not ‘openly gay’ and he makes no bones about it. I compare it to the offense Jews would feel to having someone referred to as ‘openly Jewish.’ It’s a relic of a past we need to leave behind. We do not refer publicly to people as gay who are not out, so it really is irrelevant.

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