When looking for homosexual slang terms, it is important to know which words are inappropriate or describe people in a derogatory manner and should not be used. Homosexual people may use some of the more playful terms themselves; however, that does not give everyone the right to an otherwise negative or hurtful word.
We're going to go through each of the homosexual slang terms, that way you can see what the consequences are of using each one.
This word is generally used and is appropriate to use if you are describing a homosexual individual. "Gay" in and of itself is not really a derogatory term.
The problem with the word "gay" lies in the fact that people often use it in inappropriate ways. For example, many individuals use "gay" to say that something is stupid or lame. They might say "That TV show was gay last night." In this sense, it is very offensive to use the word gay, because using gay to describe something that is stupid or lame is also referring to homosexual people as stupid or lame.
Neither fag nor faggot is an appropriate word to use. It is a slang term for a homosexual and has historically been used to mock men who act in an effeminate way. Indeed, some homosexual individuals will even use this word to characterize men who they feel are "gayer" than them. But that is often done in a playful manner.
It is best for heterosexuals to avoid using the words fag and faggot, because they, generally, have a very offensive nature.
A lesbian refers to a homosexual woman. The word "lesbian" is not inappropriate to use, since it is the correct name for a woman who dates other women. However, make sure you are not using it in an accusatory or insulting manner.
It's not necessarily always just what you say, but also how you say it. While "lesbo" is to some extent just a shortened version of the word "lesbian," it tends to be used in a mean and derogatory way and it should be avoided.
Lesbian women have often been referred to as dykes by their critics. This word is one that is extremely cruel. While it does seem to be on par with "fag" or "faggot" for men, in some instances, there is something about this word that makes it seem much worse. Perhaps it is the harsh sound of the word "dyke," or perhaps it is the fact that so many times it is a word of insult, injury, and attack.
Like other homosexual slang terms it is being reclaimed by younger lesbians.
The word "queer" has made its way into popular culture, in part thanks to the success of the television shows Queer As Folk and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The word queer has been widely adopted within the gay community as a badge of honor after being a slur for many years. It can also be used as an umbrella term for all non-heterosexual people.
Homo is perhaps the most interesting term that people have used to dub homosexual individuals. It is really just an abbreviation of homosexual, but it has been used in a derogatory way by heterosexual people for many years. Gay people are now reclaiming the word and may use it in a playful way.