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Encyclopedia of Homosexuality

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History of Gay and Other Queer Words

Queer Terminology: LGBTQ Histories and the Semantics of Sexuality

 

LGBTQ Slang
 

Many slang words and expressions in general usage in the LGBTQ community are derived from the drag subculture, the black gay subculture, the gay bar scene, the gay dating scene, and the online chat texting community.

 

 

--Gold Star Lesbian: Lesbian who has never had sex with a man.

--Platinum Gay: Gay man who has never had sex with a woman.

--Lipstick Lesbian: Lesbian who prefers to wear makeup and looks conventionally feminine.

--Hasbian: Former Lesbian.

--Friend of Dorothy (FOD): Gay man. Reference to Wizard of Oz.

--Beard/Fag Hag/Fruit Fly: Straight woman who hangs out almost exclusively with gay men.

--Fag Stag: Straight man drawn to the company of gay men.

--Stromosexual: Straight acting homosexual male.

--SAG: Straight acting gay.

--Futch: Halfway between femme and butch.

--Kiki: Party. Get together.

--Werk: Kudos. Well done.

--Mary: Nickname for a gay man's real name. Used with affection or familiarity by another gay man.

 

 

--Gaydar: Method of detecting the presence and location of gay and lesbian individuals.

--Gayborhood: Neighborhood with a high concentration of same-sex individuals and couples.

--Pitcher: Giver in a gay relationship. Top.

--Catcher: Receiver in a gay relationship. Bottom.

--Rice Queen: Gay man who has an interest in or attraction to Asian men.

--Salsa Queen: Gay man who has an interest in or attraction to Mexican men.

--Dyke Alike/Double Homo: Gay couple who dress alike or wear each other's clothes.

--LUG: Lesbian Until Graduation. Women who experiment with lesbianism while in college.

--U-Hauling: Moving in after the first date.

--OWL: Older Wiser Lesbian. An elderly lesbian.

--Tea (or T): Hidden truth. Secrets. Gossip.

 

 

--In The Life: Occupied or engaged in some specialized and usually socially despised way of living, such as the homosexual subculture. In black gay circles, the term is used to refer to participants in a gay lifestyle.

 

--Beefcake: Attractive, masculine gay man with well-developed muscles. Compare this term with the older, now outdated, equivalent term for women, “cheesecake.”

 

--Masc: Shorthand for “masculine.” Term used in online chats and personal ads when exchanging one's physical statistics.

 

--Read: To lecture or reprimand someone with mockery or a sharply worded barrage of painful truths about him or herself, especially in front of a crowd or audience.

 

--Shade: Negative or disparaging remarks made to or about someone. Subtle, sneering expression of contempt for or disgust with someone.

 

--On Fleek: On point, complete, flawlessly styled, well groomed, looking great, fashion perfection. Combination of "fly" and "sleek." Usage: “Her outfit was totally on fleek” or “Her eyebrows were on fleek.”

 

--Unicorn: Bisexual woman who wants to be a part of a threesome. The conventional wisdom is that, much like a mythical creature, this person is hard to find or does not exist.

 

--Twink: Attractive, boyish-looking gay young man. Slender with little to no body hair. Blonde bimbo. Not particularly intelligent.

 

Wikipedia: Sexual Orientation Terminology

We Are Family: Glossary of LGBTQ Terms

Video: Old Gays Trying Out New Gay Slang

Wikipedia: LGBTQ Slang

Info: Unicorn

UC Davis: LGBTQ Glossary of Terms

Cheesecake and Beefcake

Friend of Dorothy

Scarleteen: Glossary of Sexual Terms

Gay Slang From the 70s

Big Book of Filth: Slang Phrases and Euphemisms

 

 

Bear Terminology
 

--Bear: Hairy/heavy set gay man
--Grizzly: Hairy/heavy set outdoors type gay man

--Bruin: Hairy/heavy set athletic gay man
--Panda Bear: Hairy/heavy set Asian gay man
--Black Bear: Hairy/heavy set African American gay man
--Brown Bear: Hairy/heavy set Hispanic gay man
--Polar Bear: Hairy/heavy set silver, white or gray haired gay man
--Ginger Bear: Hairy/heavy set red haired gay man
--Berenstein Bear: Hairy/heavy set Jewish gay man

--Koala Bear: Hairy/heavy set Australian gay man

--Honey Badger: Hairy blonde gay man, typically not muscular or heavy set

--Otter: Lean and hairy gay man

--Cub: Young hairy gay man

--Chaser: Non hairy man who likes hairy men
--Goldilocks: Heterosexual female in the company of bears (fag hag)

--Ursula: Butch lesbians who participate in the bear culture

--Woof: Greeting used by bears

 

Gay Dictionary

Encyclopedia of Homosexuality

Gay Slang with Mitch and Avi

Info: LGBTQ Symbols

Thought Catalog: Gay Slang Phrases

Wikipedia: Terminology of Homosexuality

Morgan McMichaels Video: Drag Slang on Hollywood Blvd

History of Gay and Other Queer Words

Queer Terminology: LGBTQ Histories and the Semantics of Sexuality

Info: Offensive Language

Why Gay Men Call Each Other "Girl"

 

 

 

Friend of Dorothy

 

In gay slang, a "Friend of Dorothy" (FOD) is a gay man and more broadly, any LGBTQ person. A reference to the Wizard of Oz story, the phrase dates back to at least World War II, when homosexual acts were illegal in the United States. Stating that, or asking if, someone was a Friend of Dorothy was a euphemism used for discussing sexual orientation without others knowing its meaning.

The precise origin of the term is unknown. Some believe that it is derived from The Road to Oz (1909), a sequel to the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The book introduces readers to Polychrome who, upon meeting Dorothy's travelling companions, exclaims, "You have some queer friends, Dorothy", and she replies, "The queerness doesn't matter, so long as they're friends." There are numerous references to LGBTQ characters and relationships, including an innuendo about bisexuality, when Dorothy asks Scarecrow which way to go on the yellowbrick road and he says, "Of course some people go both ways," although it's unknown if these references were intentional.

 


 

More commonly, it is stated that "Friend of Dorothy" refers to the derivative 1939 film The Wizard of Oz because Judy Garland, who starred as the main character Dorothy, is a gay icon. In the film, Dorothy is accepting of those who are different. For example, the "gentle lion" giving the line, "I'm afraid there's no denyin', I'm just a dandy lion." The Wizard of Oz has a "particular resonance in the culture of the queer community." The struggles faced by Dorothy, Toto, and friends, especially against the Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys, can metaphorically mirror the difficulties of coming out. How the group of outcasts worked together likewise mirrors LGBTQ people who create new chosen families. Researchers also note there is an absence of a heteronormative male-female romance, and Dorothy and her friends "do not need to change themselves to become who they want to be." Many see Garland’s portrayal as a "queer journey, an escape from the puritanical, morally rigid, black-and-white small-town life to Technicolor city existence with fabulous friends."



 

Additionally relevant is the classic song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that Dorothy (Judy Garland) sings, which was possibly “the most memorable performance” of Garland’s career, and the song that “contributed to the evolution of the rainbow flag as a gay icon.” The song “served as a cultural catalyst, propelling the eventual embrace of the rainbow symbol by the world's LGBTQ communities.” Time Magazine, in its August 1967 review of Garland's final engagement at New York's Palace Theatre, observed that a disproportionate number of audience members were homosexual.

 

Wikipedia: Sexual Orientation Terminology

We Are Family: Glossary of LGBTQ Terms

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland

Video: Old Gays Trying Out New Gay Slang

Wikipedia: LGBTQ Slang

Info: Unicorn

UC Davis: LGBTQ Glossary of Terms

Cheesecake and Beefcake

Friend of Dorothy

Scarleteen: Glossary of Sexual Terms

Gay Slang From the 70s

Big Book of Filth: Slang Phrases and Euphemisms

 

 

Read

 

"Read" means to tell someone about him or herself. Knowing exactly where another person is “coming from'” and telling the person about it, especially in front of a crowd or audience (RuPaul’s Drag Race). The truth behind what someone is saying. To understand (Do you read me?). An attack on one’s credibility. To lecture someone with mockery or a sharply worded barrage of painful truths about him or herself. Popularized by New York City drag queens in the documentary movie Paris is Burning.

 

"That was a read, honey!"

"Don't do it honey, I will read your ass."

“He was upset because I was reading him.”

 

Possible origins:

 

"Read between the lines" – To look for subtle or hidden subtext

"Read the meter" – To make sure everything's alright

"Read him the riot act" - To reprimand or scold someone

“Read him like a book” – To foretell or easily discern or understand someone

 

Wikipedia: Sexual Orientation Terminology

Friend of Dorothy

We Are Family: Glossary of LGBTQ Terms

Info: Archaic Language

Wikipedia: LGBTQ Slang

UC Davis: LGBTQ Glossary of Terms

Scarleteen: Glossary of Sexual Terms

Info: Unicorn

Gay Slang From the 70s

Big Book of Filth: Slang Phrases and Euphemisms

 

 

Throwing Shade

 

You don't have to watch RuPaul's Drag Race to have heard the expression “throw shade,” “throwing shade,” or sometimes just “shade.”

 

“Shade” refers to negative or disparaging remarks made to or about someone. “Shade” is a subtle, sneering expression of contempt for or disgust with someone.

 

The first recorded use of “shade” to refer to an insult is from the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning, which chronicles the drag scene in mid-1980s Manhattan as seen through the eyes of young Latino and black drag queens.

 

According to E. Patrick Johnson, a professor of African-American studies at Northwestern University who has written on insults within the gay and black communities, “shade” is something that has been a part of the American black experience since slavery, when a direct insult could result in death. "African-Americans developed these covert ways of communication, which, over time, have morphed into the traditional ways that they interact with one another."

 

Thanks in part to Paris Is Burning, “shade” began to enter the mainstream in the early 1990s, first appearing in places like the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times. It even appeared in a jokey headline about an eclipse: "Uppity Earth Throws Shade.”

 

Gay Dictionary

Encyclopedia of Homosexuality

Gay Slang with Scott and Mitch

Info: LGBTQ Terminology

Thought Catalog: Gay Slang Phrases

Wikipedia: Terminology of Homosexuality

Morgan McMichaels Video: Drag Slang on Hollywood Blvd

History of Gay and Other Queer Words

Queer Terminology: LGBTQ Histories and the Semantics of Sexuality

 

 

Spilling the Tea

 

Like “shade” and “read,” “tea” originated in drag culture, and specifically black drag culture. It means "to tell your secret" or "to reveal the hidden truth." More informally, it simply means "to gossip."

 

When it was first popularized in general print, it could be spelled “T” or “tea” and it didn't refer to the drink. One of the early print uses of “T” comes from John Berendt's nonfiction best seller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In it, he is interviewing Lady Chablis, a prominent drag performer in Savannah, about her dating life, and she notes that she avoids certain men because they're prone to violence when they "find out her T.”

 

"What’s my T? Yeah, my T. My thing, my business, what's going on in my life."

-Lady Chablis

 

Chablis' interviews in Berendt's book gave the world a peek into the vocabulary of black drag culture. “T” is short for “truth,” and her truth is that she's transgender. (It's worth noting that Chablis herself uses the letter “T” instead of the word “tea” in her 1997 autobiography, and glosses it as "my truth.")

 

It appears that “T,” also rendered as “tea,” has a double-edged meaning in black drag culture. It could refer to a hidden truth, as Chablis uses it, and it could also refer to someone else's hidden truth, that is, gossip.

 

The phrase "spill the tea," used as an encouragement to gossip, has been used in everything from Harlequin romance novels to RuPaul's Drag Race.

 

Comedian Larry Wilmore used "weak tea" regularly on his 2015-16 Comedy Central show in response to people who weren't telling the absolute truth.

 

As drag culture (and particularly black drag culture) gained prominence, so too did this dual meaning use of “tea.” It has spread far beyond black drag culture at this point.

 

Gay Dictionary

Friend of Dorothy

Encyclopedia of Homosexuality

Gay Slang with Scott and Mitch

Info: LGBTQ Terminology

Thought Catalog: Gay Slang Phrases

Wikipedia: Terminology of Homosexuality

Morgan McMichaels Video: Drag Slang on Hollywood Blvd

History of Gay and Other Queer Words

Queer Terminology: LGBTQ Histories and the Semantics of Sexuality

  

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