Sexuality-based Microaggressions

Examples of microassault, microinsult and microinvalidations


These are explicit derogatory comments or actions, for example:  

  • Hate speech  

  • ‘faggot’, ‘dyke’  

  • Avoidant behaviour  

  • Moving away   

  • Leaving out of group discussions  

  • Laughing and pointing  

  • Negative representations  

  • Gay men are predatory  

  • Queer women are sex objects for heterosexual men  

  • Bisexuals are either invisible or fickle  


Student Quotes:

There’s what I call a ‘weird curiosity’ because of the association with sex, some people feel entitled to ask about really intimate details of relationships that they would never do to heterosexuals.  It’s really offensive.

There’s this thing where it’s sexy to be a lesbian or bi woman, but to be a gay man is disgusting.  I get so fed up of it.



These are a variety of subtle snubs, conveying a hidden insult to the recipient.  There is often an assumption on the part of the heterosexual person that they have an entitlement to facts about private life and relationship details of queer sexualities which underlines the unconscious view of them as abnormal, immoral or weak characters.  

  •  “You don’t sound/look gay”  

  • “It can’t be real sex unless it’s with the ‘opposite’ sex”  

  • “Being bisexual is greedy, you just want the best of both worlds”  

  • “How did you turn gay?”  

  • “Aren’t you making life hard for yourself?”  

  • “Which one of you is the ‘guy’?”  

  • “Oh – do I have to worry about you fancying me now?”  


Student Quotes:

Once I tell people I’m not entirely straight, some of my female friends worry I’m going to fall in love with them.  Just because I’m attracted to my own gender doesn’t mean that I will be attracted to them.

People talk about it as if it’s a self-harming choice when really the harm comes from the outside, from people trying to discourage me, not from myself.



These are characterised by communications that negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of minority sexualities.  They can be spoken from benign intentions but are experienced as invalidating or humiliating.  They often diminish the personhood or gender.  

  • “You’re being oversensitive”  
  • “You’re just confused”, “It’s just a phase”  
  • “You’re not a real man”  
  • “Why are you making things hard for yourself?”  
  • “Why do you have to flaunt it?”  
  • “I'm not homophobic, but...”  
  • “You can do want you want, but I don’t approve of it”  
  • “How can you be queer if you’ve never had sex with a member of the same sex?”  


Student Quote:

“I've experienced idea of denying femininity in women who love women and denying masculinity in men who love men - it's almost like or like you can't be a proper man or proper woman, if you're attracted to the same gender.


You can find more resources to help you support diversity and inclusion in the What Can I Do? section and in Counteracting Microagressions.