Thursday, October 21

Celebrate pride with queer Swedish vocabulary

Photo: Pride of Växjö 2019, C. Bowen

June is recognized as Pride Month around the world. With Sweden’s progressive stance on gay rights, it is not surprising that Swedes host more Pride celebrations per capita than any other country in the world. From rainbow-painted park benches and crosswalks in cities like Malmö and Göteborg to the Stockholm Pride Parade attracting half a million spectators, Swedes, for the most part, fully embrace Pride. Therefore, this week’s blog will cover queer vocabulary on sexual orientation, gender identity, and pronouns.

Now before we get started, this blog is by no means a complete list of queer Swedish vocabulary. The idea here is simply to cover a few basics that can help us become more conscious Swedish speakers.

Gay nouns and adjectives

Gay → homosexual → homosexual It is used in Swedish to describe someone who is attracted to someone of the same sex. But, just like in English, this term can get a bit stuffy in everyday use, which is why most people use gay or queer. Remember my blog post about Darin and Princess Victoria winning HBTQ of the year at Gaygalan?

The terms gay and queer mean the same in English as in Swedish. TO gay person is attracted to someone of the same gender. Queer it’s more of a generic term that means you’re breaking the norms on sexual orientation, gender identity, or both! You can go a long way by using both as adjectives in Swedish. For instance:

– Do you know if he’s gay? -Do you know if he’s gay?
-I don’t know but he’s probably a fag. -I don’t know, but he’s probably a fag.

queer also works well as a plural. If you are a gay woman, you are lesbian This adjective can be used as an ett form: lesbians and plural form lesbians In substantive form a floor → floor they are synonyms for lesbian lesbians Secondly, a gay → gay It is used for gay men. Although these terms are totally fine for everyone to use colloquially, gay it is a less loaded term that can be used in any situation.


This is the Swedish equivalent to LGBTQIA +. All of these words are related to their English equivalents, so if you need to brush up on these English terms as well, this is your chance! (Again, VERY basic definitions here).

These first two terms refer to sexual orientation or (sexual orientation = who attracts you!).

homosexuals – Homosexual, we’ve already got you covered, right?
bisexual – bisexual people are attracted to both sexes (in a binary sense)

The next two terms refer to gender identity (gender identity = the gender with which a person relates the most).

transgender people – transgender people, often people whose gender identity differs from the one assigned to them at birth

intersex person – intersex people were born with gender traits that do not match the typical male / female distinction

The “i” in HBTIQA + can also mean non-binary, people who do not identify with any gender

asexuella – asexual people tend to have little or no sexual attraction to others

… and the plus? The advantage is there to always include others who do not feel identified with the previous categories.

And the pronouns?

It’s difficult to identify a person’s gender just by looking at them, so learning your preferred gender pronoun is one way to recognize it accordingly. We know Swedish binary pronouns they have (he and she (her), but what about gender-neutral pronouns? In English, the pronoun “they” is used as a neuter pronoun to describe a person in the singular. In Swedish, the equivalent is hen, or the. These pronouns can be used to refer to trans or gender queer people, but they are also quite useful if you have never met her before or are not sure of her gender. For instance:

-I met a new friend at school. -I met a new friend at school.
-Cold! Ska hen do you also come on sunday? -Fun! Will they also come on Sunday?

It is becoming more and more common to ask someone what pronouns they use or prefer. In Swedish, you can say:

-What pronoun do you want me to use?
-What pronoun do you want me to use?

Researching the pronouns of the Swedish discussions, I came across The Church of Sweden (of the Swedish Church) Tips for including non-binary young people, Give it a read!

That’s all folks! Are you feeling refreshed with your weird terms? Do you want to expand your knowledge? Look down!

Clock: Thank god i’m gay

UMO – Sexual Orientation
RFSL Concept List
The rainbow glossary Flashcards on Quizlet
Rainbow Duck Dictionary
Stockholm Pride

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